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Tibet Discovered in the Prairies: The St. Norbert Arts Centre announces a major residency for 30 senior Tibetan artists from Tibet-in-exile for a Tibetan festival July 14-31, 2000

June 12, 2000

Winnipeg, MB - What better location could there possibly be for a Tibetan festival than within the ruined walls of a monastic chapel?

Plans are confirmed for a Tibetan Sacred Arts in the Ruins Fesitval, a Tibetan Art and Cultural Residency, July 14-31, 2000 at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. The Ruins of the monastery will be transformed into a Tibetan Buddhist temple for 2 weeks of spiritual and cultural exchange between the visiting artists and the citizens and arts community of Winnipeg and the surrounding urban centres.

"We are thrilled to be able to present a project of this scale, complexity, and resonance," Says Louise W. May, Artistic Director of the St. Norbert Arts Centre. "It is a beautiful example of excellence rooted in traditional art practices which date back to the 14th Century."

The residency will culminate with a first-ever North American full-cast production of the entire Tibetan opera 'Sukyi Nyima', a mythical tale of passion and renewal. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (Dharamsala, India) and Chaksam-pa, the Tibetan Dance and Opera Company (North America and Europe), will meet in an unprecedented reunion of senior Tibetan artists.

Five months after H.H. the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 other Tibetans fled into exile, the Dalai Lama created the Tibetan Institute of Performing arts on August 11, 1959 in Kalimpong. TIPA thus became the first institution formed in the exile Tibetan community in India. This fact indicates that H.H. the Dalai Lama recognized the importance of preserving and promoting the Tibetan performing arts within the Tibetan community to sustain Tibetan identity and culture. In its forty-year history, TIPA has maintained a standard of excellence in preserving and promoting the traditional Tibetan performing arts, toured throughout Tibetan communities in India and the world, and trained teachers and professional artists. TIPA's former students have appeared in major Hollywood films and on major world concert stages. The production of 'Sukyi Nyima' at the St. Norbert Arts Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada will feature the first professional reunion of TIPA's current artists with TIPA graduates who are striving to preserve and promote the Tibetan performing arts, visual arts, and literary art in the West. This reunion marks a milestone in the history of Tibet-in-exile as it salutes the continuing dedication of TIPA artists to follow the Dalai Lama's directive and the impact TIPA has made on the world at large.

"In the last 15 years, I have been performing with Chaksam-pa, alongside many performers in various fundraisers for Tibetan political causes," says Sonam Tashi, co-founder of Chaksam-pa, the Tibetan Dance and Opera Company. "Never have I performed in a festival dedicated solely to Tibetan Art and performed exclusively by Tibetan Artists. It has always been a dream of mine."

The Venerable Lobsang Samten, formerly from the Dalai Lama's monastery (Namgyal) and the first Tibetan monk to build a sand mandala in the West, will be present for the Festival. His presence and mandala building in the Ruins will add a spiritual focus and dialogue throughout the residency. Jamyang Norbu, a senior scholar and writer on Tibetan art and culture will provide lunchtime and evening lectures for the public. His book, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, is currently a bestseller in India. Another artist, Kalsang Dawa, a Thangka painter originally from Lhasa, will also be participating His responsibility as a Thangka painter is to carry on the ancient and sacred art form while bringing forth creativity to further develop the vibrancy and originality of this living tradition.

Workshops and lectures for the general public will be held daily in the Ruins. Topics include dance, chanting, music, storytelling, mask-making, thangka painting, meditation, and cooking. Master classes for local performing artists will also be available each afternoon.

This major residency is unique in the history of Tibet-in-exile because it is reuniting the leading exponents of the Tibetan performing arts (TIPA and Chaksam-pa), visual arts (Lobsang Samten), and literary arts (Jamyang Norbu), who have all been part of TIPA. A documentary film of the two-week residency is planned that will be available to Tibetan schools and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.

Contact: Sonam Tashi, Event Organizer & CTC Regina President at (306) 789-8177

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