Tibetan elder Bhalu Bhaloo and Chaksampa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company will collaborate to preserve the previously undocumented and at-risk performing heritage of the Kongpo region of Tibet, produce an authentic Kongpo Losar Festival, and honor Kongpo elders. The Festival will feature musical performances, an archery competition, and a forum on Kongpo history and culture. Prior to the Festival, Bhaloo will teach Kongpo songs and dances to 12 Chaksampa master artists. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Festival performances were delayed until December 2021.
Bhaloo is the only Kongpo elder in the diaspora who can sing the Kongpo songs, which have never been written down and are transmitted orally. She grew up in Kongpo, hearing both the region’s indigenous folk music and the more formal Ache Lhamo. Blessed with an ear and voice for music and a prodigious memory, she carried the music with her when she and thousands of other Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. There she lived in a refugee settlement until moving to the United States in 2001 with nine other master artists. Only five of those elders are still alive.
Chaksampa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company was founded in 1989 in San Francisco by a small group of performers trained at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala, India. His Holiness the Dalai Lama established TIPA to preserve and promote Tibet’s unique performing arts traditions, and Chaksampa carries out that mission in the United States. In 2011, Chaksampa produced Ache Lhamo, directed by Tsering Wangmo, the first full-scale Tibetan opera performed in the United States. The company has toured extensively.