The Peaceful Struggle by Tenzin Haines-Wangda

Below is a guest post by Tenzin Haines-Wangda from Ottawa, Canada, on how she’s been able to teach Tibet through the art of dance.

I attended an arts high school in Ottawa, Ontario in the field of Dance. The Dance Program taught me many things about myself and about the power of communication through art. Our final task before graduating from the program was to choreograph a piece. We had just over three weeks to put a finished product together. We had to pick our dancers, find music, get costumes, choose the lighting, but most importantly we needed to pick a theme that we could translate into dance. I chose to do my piece on the Tibetan Freedom Movement.

Before the dancers took the stage, I made my speech explaining the piece. The speech I read in front of an auditorium full of my peers and teachers read;

I want you all to imagine living comfortably in your home country. Where all your morals, religious beliefs, cultural heritage, and freedom were common among the rest of society. Whether you were getting up to cook and clean, go to school, head out to the fields to work or pray – it was all done in the language, religion and culture you started learning ever since you were born. Now imagine all those basic rights begin taken away from you in a span of 10 years filled with violence and torture.

My piece is a re-enactment of a country’s occupation. I got my inspiration from the Tibetan Freedom Movement, a cause that is very close to my heart. Tibet is located in Asia, its neighbouring countries are Nepal and China. Tibet was recognized as a free and independent nation by the international community. Tibet had its own passports, currency, treaties, religion, culture, and government; until 1959 when Tibet’s autonomy was unjustly and brutally taken away from them by the Chinese communist government.

Even after 52 years, the Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet are peacefully protesting and taking a stand against the communist rule over their homeland. The violence used against the Tibetans has continued to grow, and their living conditions have become unbearable. My piece demonstrates the struggle to use peaceful tactics against violent tactics. Tibetans are still struggling to live peacefully alongside their Chinese neighbours as they did centuries ago.

I went on to thank my dancers, give credit to the music composer and those who have helped me through the process, people who have inspired me and guided me through my life.

I chose to do my piece on the Tibetan struggle because it would expose those who have no knowledge of the issue to this escalating movement. Educating people can go beyond textbooks and pamphlets. It is possible to reach out to people through art and I am very happy I chose to take action this way.

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