Saturday 6 August 2011

Dalai Lama Montreal bound

As reported in my Suburban Newspaper column a few months ago, the Canada Tibet Committee (CTB) has confirmed that it will host a public talk by the Dalai Lama on September 7 at Montreal's Uniprix Stadium. He will speak on "Global Citizenship through Universal Responsibility," a theme chosen to honour last year's decision by the Canadian government to welcome 1,000 displaced-Tibetans living in Arunachal Pradesh, India to Canada over the next five years.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on July 6, 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

Tickets for the Public Talk go on sale on Friday, August 5 at or by calling 1.800.361.4595. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and the Public Talk will start at 1:00 p.m. Simultaneous interpretation into French will be available. According to Dermod Travis who heads the CTC, ticket prices are being kept to an absolute minimum ranging from $30 to $85 as per the wishes of the Dalai Lama.

Proceeds from the talk will be donated to Project Tibet Society, which is overseeing the implementation of the immigration program to help resettle Tibetans living in Arunachal Pradesh to Canada. To facilitate security at the Talk, the CTC is asking that attendees refrain from bringing shopping bags or knapsacks. Click here for more details.


Sunday 31 July 2011

Why Cesar Corrales left Billy Elliot The Musical

In my Wednesday Suburban Newspaper column July 25 (see page 4), I told readers about Cesar Corrales, who gave up his lead role in Billy Elliot the Musical in Toronto in May and returned to Montreal to continue his ballet training.

While my earlier attempts to interview Cesar were unsuccessful, after my column appeared I was contacted by his mother Taina Morales. She told me that both she and her husband Jesus decided to pull Cesar from the show so he could focus his full attention on classical ballet.

Prior to Toronto, he spent eight months as part of the Chicago tour as one of four boys rotating in the role of Billy. The family now lives in Côte des Neiges. Taina works for Les Grands Ballet Canadien. Her husband Jesus Corrales, is a former principal dancer from Cuba RWB and Les Grands Ballets. The couple have been home schooling Cesar, 14.

“There is a reason why I had Cesar stop the show,” Taina said. “Cesar performing this role was an amazing surprise when I brought him to audition. I really did not expect he would get the part. It was a dream. Like most boys mention in their interview, it was a beautiful and amazing and as parents we couldn’t be more proud to see how far Cesar went, so I can’t ever thank the producers enough for giving Cesar this opportunity.

“We always belived that Cesar could have a career as a ballet dancer,and we had the obligation to be careful about the time he would perform in a musical so we had to make a decision for him to stop the show and to return to a serious classical ballet training. Cesar understood and that is why he delivered 100 percent in every show ,because he knew he would not be in Billy Elliot for long.”

Taina said the decision to pull Cesar came six months after the show premiered in Chicago. “But the producers wanted to keep him and we felt that after all of the training they provided the boys it would be kind of selfish to leave. To be fair we arranged for Cesar to continue with the show in Toronto until April as he had been invited to a competition in Havana, Cuba where we are from. Once again the show asked us to stay longer because some of the other boys needed more time. So we stayed until the beginning of May.”

Billy Elliot the Musical continues in Toronto until September 3. I recently saw the show and it was absolutely superb. Go to for ticket information.