For William Lau, the key to playing a woman is all about balance.
An expert in Beijing opera, the China-trained dancer performed in Ottawa this week as Wu San-niang, a legendary warrior forced to defend her village after she learns of an impending attack.
"Imagine if you're a woman [playing the role]. No matter how strong your movements are, whatever you do, naturally they will believe you — you are a woman with martial arts skills," Lau told CBC News.
"Whereas me, if I go too strong, then where's the feminine? Where's the female part? If I don't do too strong, where's the warrior? So [it's about] how to balance that."
Before his performance Tuesday night at Arts Court, Lau spoke to the CBC's Andrew Lee about the intricacies of the historic art form.
Before performing in Ottawa this week, William Lau, dancer and expert in Beijing opera, spoke to CBC News about the intricacies of the historic art form. 3:28