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Highlights- things Tibet, Paul Thorn, Tony Furtado, Houston Ballet

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Houston Ballet
The Houston Ballet will visit the Walton Arts Center for performances today, Friday and Saturday. At 7 p.m today and 8 p.m. Friday, the company will present Madame Butterfly. Saturday night the company will present a repertory night performing the emotional piece Divergence. Tickets are $19 to $42.

About Tibet
While the world watches as the situation in Tibet spins out of control, it is difficult for us here in Arkansas to connect with the strife. However on Monday night at 7, two Tibetan Buddhist monks, Geshe Thupten Dorjee and Rinzin Dorjee, will teach the first of a six-week class on the making of a sacred sand mandala, which is an active meditation class. The classes will be at Unity of Fayetteville. The classes will also be an opportunity for dialogue and inspiration.

A sand mandala is a two, or sometimes three-dimensional, geometric pattern that is first laid-out with compasses, chalk lines and straight edges, and then filled in with colored sand. Mandalas are by no means unique to Tibetan culture, although the Tibetan monks have taken them to a visionary and aesthetic level that has rightly distinguished them on the international stage.

It was not until 1988, when the Dalai Lama first decreed that these mandalas could be constructed in public, that anyone in the West was able to view one as it was being assembled. The construction of a mandala is essentially a very powerful meditation, and they have traditionally been done within sacred environments and only around a very select audience of monks and other clerics.

Class participants will learn this form of active meditation as they become familiar with the mechanics of constructing a sacred mandala. Depending on interest, the class may be expanded to include the making of other items such as traditional Tibetan sculptures and prayer flags.

Passang Gelek, who is currently with the Dalai Lama in Tibet may be returning to Northwest Arkansas to also teach the class. There is a $5 donation requested for each class. For information call 442-0680.

There is also another option to learn more about Tibet. The University of Arkansas Tibetan Film Series opens Wednesday at Giffels Auditorium in Old Main on the UA campus. The four-film series will also feature films on Nov. 14, Feb. 20 and Mar. 27. This Wednesday’s film will be Cry of the Snow Lion, which tells the story of the struggle and suffering in modern Tibet, with beautiful footage of the countryside.  The award-winning documentary was 10 years in the making. Prior to the film Geshe Thupten Dorjee and Rinzin Dorjee will do a Tibetan polyphonic chant. After the film they will answer questions about the film, the current status of Tibet and their lives in exile. The films are free. For information call 575-2509.

Paul Thorn and Tony Furtado at George’s

It’s been awhile since one of our favorite singer, songwriters, Paul Thorn, has dropped by the Natural State, so we’re pretty excited that the Tupelo, Miss. native is finding time for a show at George’s Wednesday night.

The inveterate storyteller credits his gift of gab to being the son of a Pentecostal preacher. We always like to remind folks that this is they guy who met Roberto Duran in the ring on national television in 1988 and is a good art brut artist, whose work brings to mind the art of Howard Finster.

Thorn’s live shows are like being in his living room. Expect a comfortable, laidback night, but with some pretty raucous southern fried roots rock such as the Mission Temple Fireworks Stand—a real hand clapper.

Thorn has opened for Sting and toured with the likes of Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Robert Cray, Marianne Faithful and John Prine.

Kris Kristofferson called the songs written by Thorn and co-writer Billy Maddox, “absolutely Southern, absolutely original, full of heart and humor and surprises and street-wise details of trailer parks and turnip greens and love and lust that have the unmistakable ring of truth….”Angel Too Soon” is either the saddest pretty song or the prettiest sad song I ever heard.”

Thursday night, banjo wizard Tony Furtado will play George’s. The instrumentalist and singer is not your run of the mill banjo man. Furtado takes twangy instruments and makes music that stirs up thoughts of Tom Waits and John Mellencamp. The music is a blend of rock and bluegrass with occasional ripples of pop and country. On his new album, Thirteen, Furtado does covers of The Who, Elton John, and John Fogerty along with his own originals. Be ready to be impressed. Furtado is one of the best banjo players working today.

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