CAST & CREW

NGAWANG TENZIN

DIRECTOR/ MILAREPA

Ngawang studied advanced arts at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala, India (1996-2012). After graduating, he was appointed Assistant Artistic Director at TIPA (2013-2017), and was additionally employed as a Music & Dance instructor. He started TIPA’s audio & music recording, which the institute has since used to record numerous musical and performing arts productions. He has toured internationally as a performing musician, including to Paris, London, Sydney, Singapore, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and the United States of America.

In addition to his musical career, Ngawang is a sought-after film actor. He appeared in the lead role in the films Stupa (2009), Unpredictable Life (2011, directed by Om Amchok), and Drimed Kunden (2014), and in a supporting role in the feature film Kema (2011). In addition, he served as location scout for the documentary Hidden City (2014), which was produced by Barking Deer Films and directed by Nikhil. He has appeared onstage in a wide variety of roles in numerous operas and plays, including Chögyal Norsang, Drowa Sangmo, Milarepa, Kyipa, Nyichö Sangpo, and 100 Locks with One Key.

TENZIN NORBU

MUSIC DIRECTOR/ MILA’S UNCLE

Tenzin Norbu was born in Lhasa in 1982, the younger of two children. He moved to India when he was ten years old and enrolled in a Tibetan school in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India, from which he graduated in 2002. He nurtured a fascination with Tibetan music during his school years, and, though he participated in many extra-curricular activities, he always prioritized Tibetan music. During his school years, music was his greatest passion and most beloved hobby. Because of his interest in Tibetan music, dance, and songs, Norbu decided to complete a year of training to prepare for his audition to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). In 2004, he was accepted into TIPA, where he was immersed in the artistic culture of Tibet. He focused on Tibetan music, learning instruments such as dranyen (lute), lingbu (flute), and yangchin (hammered dulcimer), and he specialized in piwang (two-stringed fiddle). During his days at TIPA, he performed in major cities in India, including New Delhi, Ladakh, and Darjeeling, and he also toured abroad in Germany, the United States, Taiwan, and Bhutan.

Norbu moved to New York in 2014, where he teaches Tibetan music to children. He believes that Tibetan music and culture can improve and progress, depending on every Tibetan’s individual investment in their artistic interests. He believes that it is important for Tibetan culture to progress with the modern world, and to incorporate modern theories of music, while simultaneously promoting traditional arts around the world. Norbu is enthusiastic about his teaching. His work with Tibetan youth is very meaningful to the Tibetan community, because his dance and music classes serve as an important medium with which to engage the second-generation Himalayan-American children in promoting their own traditional culture.

DAWA BHUTI

CHOREOGRAPHER/ DAGMEMA

Dawa Bhuti is a Tibetan actress, singer, and dancer. She was born in Hunsur, South India. While at school, she was intrigued by traditional songs and dances. After completing her tenth grade in 2004, she enrolled at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), where she studied Tibetan song and dance for 11 years. During her tenure at TIPA, she performed in many cities in India, such as New Delhi, Ladakh, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Kalimpong, Mundgod, and Bodhgaya, and she toured major cities in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Bhutan.

Dawa plays dranyen (lute), lingbu (flute), and yangchin (hammered dulcimer), and she has performed in many Tibetan operas. In addition, she acquired experience in modern theatrical practice when she worked on the Tibetan film Unpredictable Life (2010), in which she played the protagonist. Her film credits also include the Bhutanese film Choegyal Drimed Kuenden (2014), which is based on the biography of the Bodhisattva Prince Drimed Kuenden. In this film too, she portrayed the lead female character.

Dawa currently works at the New York Tibetan Service Center (NYTSC), where she teaches Tibetan music to the Tibetan youth of New York City and also teaches at East Rutherford Tibetan Sunday School in New Jersey. In this way, she hopes to pay forward the kindness and generosity that she received from her teachers, friends, and colleagues at TIPA. She is looking forward to working in more films, giving more solo performances, and performing in more Tibetan operas in the future.

TASHI TSERING

SHERAB GYALTSEN (MILA’S FATHER)/ TSAPHU

Tashi nurtured a fascination with Tibetan music since he was in elementary school in Mundgod, India. In 1996, he enrolled in the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), where he completed an intensive three-year teacher training course in which he studied Tibetan music, dance, singing, opera, and other forms of stage performance. After gaining his teaching certification, he worked at SOS TCV, Bylakuppe as a performing arts teacher for eight years, teaching Tibetan songs to hundreds of students. During this time, he toured India, performing in various concerts. Tashi is also a distinguished composer. He has released three albums: Ame Lapcha (2001), Shide Rawang (2003) and Nganyi (2005). In 2008, Tashi moved to the United States. Since moving here, he has produced a short film Tainted Freedom(2014) and has released a number of original albums, including Tibet Is Burning, Golden Teardrop, and Gyachu Luyang. In addition, Tashi is a co-founder and member of Taktser Roltsok (Taktser Band), a New York-based band. Taktser Roltsok has performed concerts across North America, at events such as the Canada Tibet Music Festival, and a screening of the recent film The Last Dalai Lama? (2017) at the School of Visual Arts.  He has also appeared at events hosted by the Rubin Museum, Columbia University, Tibet House, and Staten Island Museum, among others. Tashi’s YouTube channel has been viewed more than 50,000 times.

Tashi teaches at Lonyamship Sunday School, at the Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey (TCNYNJ) during the weekend. Tashi emphasizes and aspires to fulfill his responsibility to hand his knowledge of Tibetan culture down to the younger generation. He believes the future of Tibetan culture depends on every one of us and that if we don’t act in time, our beautiful classical music is at the risk of vanishing.

DADON

KARGYEN (MILAREPA’S MOTHER)

Dadon was born and raised in Lhoka, Tibet, and later moved to Lhasa, where she opened a mini-market. As both cities are well-known for their beautiful and distinctive gorshey (Tibetan circle dance), Dadon nurtured a keen interest in gorshey since her childhood. In 1989, she immigrated to Kathmandu, Nepal, where she spent more than ten years running a Tibetan furniture-painting business. In 2000, Dadon moved to New York City, and in 2008 she served as the vice president of Lhoka Kyidug (Lhoka Regional Association). In this position, she directed cultural performances and worked with the president in organizing various public events, always ready to assist the wider community alongside the organization Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey (TCNYNJ). In 2011, she served as president of the regional Tibetan Women’s Association, where she organized many political, religious, and environmental events. In 2014, she served as a public coordinator of Sakya Tsechen Assocation. Currently, Dadon is employed as the Director of the Cultural Program of TCNYJ.

About our production, she says, “Milarepa’s tale is one of the oldest stories in Tibetan history, and it is highly connected to our culture and our daily practices. I feel proud and lucky to be a part of this opera, and to be able to help make sure that this important and captivating tale does not vanish from the earth.”

DEKYI CHOEDON

MILAREPA’S AUNT

Dekyi was born in the Lhoka, Tibet, where she dreamt of becoming a singer. After moving to New York City, she served as Treasurer and Secretary of the North American Lhoka Association (NALA) from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, she sang during her first stage performance in New York, for an audience of more than 800. She released her album Ngo Tsar Kyi Yarlung in 2013. In 2014, she collaborated with many other Tibetan artists (including  Kalsang, Chodrak, Tsering Gyurme, Sokhon Dargye, and Lobsang Delek) on the album Detö Zumdang De Tre Dzum Dang. She has performed in the US, Canada, and India, at many events organized by Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey (TCNYNJ), Lhasa Kyidug (Lhasa Assocation), Chöshi Gangdruk, and others. She also served as secretary of the Tibetan Women’s Association from 2014 to 2016.

About our performance, she says, “I am interested in the Milarepa opera, as Milarepa’s story is very important for our people. I have performed on stage many times as a singer, but I have never had the opportunity to play a role in a stage production such as this. So this will be a new experience for me! I am excited to learn a lot, and to do my best.”

LHAKPA CHOEDON (CHOEYANG)

PETA (MILA’S SISTER)

Choeyang grew up in Kathmandu, where she completed her primary and secondary studies at Namgyal Middle School and Namgyal Higher Secondary School. She has cultivated a fascination with Tibetan songs, dances and dramas since her childhood. As a student, she participated in many inter-school performing arts competitions, and she was an active artist at the Nepal Tibet Lhamo Association for five years, where she portrayed the key role of Nangsa in the Tibetan opera. She performed at many Tibetan cultural events in Nepal, including the birthday celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Tibetan New Year festivals. She also performed in various cities in India, including Dharamsala, as part of the Shotön Opera festival. Later, she moved to New York City, where she joined the performing arts organizations Choesum Doegar and Lhamo Tsokpa. As a member of these groups, she has had the opportunity to perform in multiple events organized by the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) and other associations. About our performance, she states, “I am interested in Milarepa, as this is my first time performing in a theatrical play. I am also excited to get to know more Tibetan artists in exile.”

TENZIN CHOEDON

DZESE (MILA’S GIRLFRIEND)

Tenzin Choedon was born in Dharamasala, Himachal Pradesh, India, where she studied at Upper Tibetan Children’s Village until Grade 12. During her time there, she sang and danced in many cultural performances. In sixth grade, she played the role of the Buddha’s mother in a children’s show that told the story of the Buddha’s life. During her school years, she loved to attend performances of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, and her passion for Tibetan music and dance grew. Mr. Tsering Lodoe (portraying Milarepa in our performance) was someone whose work she admired during her childhood. After 12th grade, she enrolled in a college in Chandigarh to pursue an Arts major, and she performed Tibetan songs and dances in Chandigarh, New Delhi, and Dharamsala. In 2015, she moved to New York City. She feels very proud to participate in this production.

TSETEN DORJEE

LAMA YOUGTON

Tseten Dorjee is a freelance video and photographer based in New York. He was born and raised in Tibet, and migrated to India in 2006. In India, he contribute so much in creation of the Tibet Hope Center with aim to serve both Tibetans, local Indians, and people from Himalayan regions by engaging in various constructive social activities. Later he initiated the Hope Photo Gallery where many captured photo tells a story. He was also the cofounder of Tibet Theatre based in Dharamsala promoting traditional culture and values through theatrical play and he toured all over India, sharing his work in cities like Bylakuppe, Mundgod, and Shimla.

TENZIN DECHEN

LAMA MARPA

Tenzin Dechen was born in Lhasa, Tibet, but has been in exile since 1992. He studied at TCV School and after graduating he immigrated to New York. Tenzin has been fascinated with Milarepa’s story since his childhood years in Tibet. He is very much honored to play Marpa in this auspicious play.

JAMPA YOUDEN

LAMA NGOKPA

Jampa was born to a nomadic family in Ngari, Tibet. His grandfather, a great lu singer, introduced Jampa to traditional Tibetan music, and taught him the proper way to sing lu. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Jampa and his family fled to Mustang, Nepal. Later, Jampa immigrated to the United States. Today he resides in New York with his wife and children.


Jampa has performed in many diverse venues for various events, including at the American Museum of Natural History, Asian American Arts Centre, Arizona Jewelry Fair, New Jersey Karma Thegsum Choling (association that organizes the Karmapa’s visits to the US), Newark Museum, Ngari Chithun Association of Canada, St. Vincent’s College in Pennsylvania, Tibetan Association of Boston, Connecticut Tibetan Festival, and various Tibetan associations in New York. He has also appeared on the television shows Marco Polo and Ugly Betty. Currently he serves as Vice President and Cultural Coordinator of Ngari Chithun Association of New York and New Jersey. Additionally, Jampa recently released his first and second albums, Eastern Jewel Hill and Gangjong Drenyang (“Nostalgic Voice of Tibet”). Through his music, he hopes to preserve Tibetan vocal arts, educate others about Tibetan traditional music, and fulfill his listeners’ yearnings, just has his yearnings are fulfilled when he sings. He wishes to stress the urgent importance of preserving and advocating for Tibetan culture. He also plays an important role in leading traditional Tibetan weddings by carefully following the Tibetan weddings rituals and beliefs – he has led numerous weddings so far in the East and Midwest regions.

(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy56Tu-_DV23hEnL2Usrfrw)


NAMGYAL NORBU

TSAPHU’S GIRLFRIEND

Namgyal’s fascination with Tibetan performing arts began in childhood. She grew up in a Tibetan refugee settlement in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India, attended Central School for Tibetans, and later enrolled at Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies at Varanasi. After many years of study in Varanasi, she immigrated to New York City, where she taught Tibetan language at weekend schools throughout all five boroughs. While teaching, she realized the immense importance of preserving and promoting Tibetan culture in the diaspora. As a result, she began participating in, and eventually became the leader of, the cultural program Cholsum Dögar under the non-profit organization Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey (TCNYNJ). In this program, she performs many Tibetan songs and dances. Currently, she serves as a board member of TCNYNJ. She feels proud to be a part of this production, and is excited to have the opportunity to perform in a modern theater for a diverse audience.

Support Actors
Names Roles
Tsering Wangchuk Dzesal father
Rinzin Lhundup Kargyen brother
Jordan Ghongpa Mila (child)
Gawa Ghongpa Peda (child)
Ghangkar Lhamo Dzesal (child)
Tsering Norzom Bride
Tsering Namgyal Groom
Kunsang Lama Bride maid
Rigden Ghongpa Son of Marpa
Tenzing Lama Son of Lama Yongon
Rinzin Drongpa Dancer/Merchant
Tsering Yougyal Dancer
Lobsang Yeshi Dancer/Merchant
Ghuru Lhamo Dancer
Tenzin Wangmo Dancer/farmer
Dawa Bhuti Dancer/farmer
TenzinTsering Dancer
Namtso Kyi Dancer
Dhundup Lhakpa Dancer
Tenzing Lhamo Dancer
Sherap Tenzin Dancer
Chonga Gyatso Dancer
Namgyal Paldon Wedding Guests
Tsering Norgay Wedding Guests
Sherap Dongshi Wedding Guests
Sonam Pema Wedding Guests