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Lake Placid couple to share Tibetan, Indian culture in Saranac Lake

Jhola Techung and Sisa Salgado (Photo provided)

Lake Placid residents Jhola Techung and Sisa Salgado are having their first concert in the Tri-Lakes area, inviting people to share in and learn about Tibetan music and Indian dance.

The couple will host the event, “Echoes of the Himalayas,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Inner Quest Yoga & Wellness Center in Saranac Lake.

Techung, a folk singer and songwriter of Tibetan descent, will perform traditional songs about respecting nature and the elders. He will play Tibetan instruments including a lute and a Piwang, a Tibetan fiddle, singing in his native language and sharing one or two of his own compositions.

“I became an artist learning from my elders,” he said. “I came to America and realized, interacting with other artists, how each individual artist can keep some sense of our culture and also share it. Music is a very humanly expressive way to be alive, to share with other people and to enjoy other people’s culture, you know, exchange and learn.

“I think we are all so connected, human beings, we can all feel the music.”

Salgado is an Ecuadorian actress and anthropologist who studied dance from Indian masters. She will perform Bharatanatyam, a South Indian style of dance, related to the Hindu gods, traditions and ceremonies.

“I had this interest in researching the traditional dances for our communities, and then that’s what I’ve been doing in Asia as well,” Salgado said. “The Indian classical dance is part of the traditional repertoire. They tell stories about the gods, humans and traditional texts and they are transforming. The traditional art is important because its a transmission of culture.”

Salgado has performed in South America, Asia, Europe and the U.S., and since 2012 she has worked on a project called “The Dance Road,” in which she traveled to countries in Asia to learn from the elder artists and teach workshops to adults and children to preserve and promote traditional Asian dances.

Techung grew up in Dharamshala, India, after his family and thousands of other Tibetans took refuge in the country after the Tibetan uprising in 1959 against the People’s Republic of China.

“As I was growing up in India as a refugee and being immersed in India culture, the communist China had taken over in Tibet and our culture was purposefully diluted to change into communist ways,” Techung said. “In exile, we were all very fascinated with Indian culture and Western culture, but in between, we were all sort of losing our own traditional music and dance. It was very obvious the transition.”

He was enrolled in the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts at the age of 9, where he began studying aspects of all the arts, including folk, dance, and opera, through the oral teaching tradition used by venerated elders.

“For me, each performance is a way of bringing out my music, my situation and my country, which has been in a struggle from the communist oppression for almost 50 years, and the media doesn’t cover too much,” Techung said. “I just want to keep the awareness of our struggle alive with my music to free Tibet.”

Techung has recorded over 15 albums, provided original scores for films, collaborated with musicians such as Phillip Glass and Keb Mo and has performed at benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City. He has also opened several public talks for the Dalai Lama.

He has been working on a lifelong project called “Tibetan Music Preservation” for the last seven years, Salgado said, which will include a catalogue of song recordings as well as live performances and events.

The couple also runs the Visions of Tibet shop in the Alpine Mall in Lake Placid.

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