Monk-y Business

Despite the fact that Tibetan freedom has become a popular celebrity cause in recent years, the Dalai Lama and his peeps remain helplessly tucked away in the snowy Himalayan mountains while the Chinese continue to occupy his country. China's Communist government has replaced the official language from Tibetan to Chinese, instituted programs to "re-educate" Tibetan children about their culture, and wiped out many resource-rich areas, replacing them with roads and Chinese colonies. In return, have the Tibetans done what most people do when their country is invaded? Meaning, have they ordered some AK-47s and started bulldozing Chinese ass? Quite the contrary, my friend. The Tibetan style is to work for sovereignty and the restoration of human rights not with violence but through peaceful protest and constant prayer.

One of the celebrities calling most loudly for Tibetan freedom has been Buddhist movie star Richard Gere. Who better (Beastie Boys notwithstanding) than the star of Pretty Woman to introduce a culture unknown to most? This week, Mr. Gere's production company brings peace-loving "monk artists" from the Drepung Loseling Monastery to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) to perform "Sacred Music, Sacred Dance for World Healing." The monks' performance melds the spiritual with the hypnotic, as multiphonic singers perform traditional song and dance. By expressing the purity and sophistication of the sacred Tibetan arts, the Drepung Loseling collective hopes to promote global healing and unity to repair today's war-torn global landscape.

"Sacred Music, Sacred Dance" consists of ten pieces believed to generate energies conducive to world peace. It features the unique Tibetan vocal gift of overtone singing, in which the main chant masters intone three notes in unison, thereby creating a complete chord. Take that, Three Tenors! Of course, the musical accompaniment is no less significant, as the monks, robed in splendid costumes, use cymbals, bells, long horn trumpets, and high horns to create ethereal melodies. Members of the dance troupe, hidden behind masks, perform pieces including the Dance of Celestial Travelers, the Dance of Sacred Snow Lion, the Skeleton Dance, and the Dance of the Black Hat Masters.

As an added treat, in the days leading up to the one-night-only performance, the monks will create a mandala sand painting, believed to summon distinct energies that promote the aforementioned global healing. To create the sand painting, the monks painstakingly place grains of colored sand into a pattern on a flat platform. Once finished, the sand painting will be swept up and poured into the New River, thereby carrying the painting's healing energies to the rest of the world.