Hip Hop Kung Fu Open Rehearsal

Tue, Aug 02, 2011, 7:00 pm - 11:59 pm

Jong Hoan "Ra" Choi

Free, but reservations are recommended.
RSVP to info@casita.us.

Through a juxtaposition of the martial arts disciplines Shaolin Wushu Kung Fu and Tai Chi and hip-hop dance styles such as krumping, vogueing, waacking, locking and freestyle, this interdisciplinary work explores the reciprocal influences of Asian culture—and particularly martial arts—on hip-hop, and of hip-hop on Asian culture.

The show boasts an international ensemble of dancers, drummers and martial artists who were handpicked by the show’s choreographer and director, Buddha Stretch. For the last 20-plus years, Stretch has served as an international ambassador of sorts for hip-hop dance, having traveled to Asia many times to teach and disseminate his moves. And this dancefloor diplomacy is working. What Americans may not know, he says, is that there are now "more hip-hop dance studios in Japan, per capita, than anywhere else in the world. The Japanese have built their own hip-hop subculture. This is their version of rebellious rock and rock [youth] culture."

But the influence works both ways. Stretch, who started dancing in 1982, says that "1960s and 70s kung fu flicks and [Chinese-American martial artist and actor] Bruce Lee played a big part in the beginning of hip-hop and its growth in our culture. Hip-hop dancing shares themes with martial arts movies: you have hero versus villain and fighting staged to music," both of which became tropes in hip-hop dance. These themes are also prevalent in other aspects of hip-hop culture, such as the music of the Staten Island-bred Wu-Tang Clan (who refer to their home borough as “Shaolin”) and in NYC-based films like Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), starring Forest Whitaker, which borrows heavily from the “Wild West” aesthetic of martial arts movies.

Tuesday’s event is a free, open dress rehearsal and conversation with the artists at Casita Maria in the Bronx. Wednesday’s event, also free, is the world premiere performance, plus a question-and-answer session after the show, at Asia Society in Manhattan.

Artistic Director: Adesola Osakalumi
Director and Choreographer: Emilio “Buddha Stretch” Austin Jr.
Co-Director & Assistant Choreographer: Michele Byrd McPhee
Assistant Choreographer: Valerie “Ms. Vee” Ho

Hip Hop Kung Fu is co-presented by Dancing in the Streets, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, and the Asia Society as part of HIP HOP GENERATION NEXT: From the South Bronx to East Asia, a citywide series that explores the trajectory of hip hop culture from its South Bronx origins to Korea and Japan.

Casita Maria

928 Simpson Street

(at East 163rd Street)

Bronx, NY 10459

(718) 589-2230


Subway: 6 to Hunts Point Avenue