Awakening! An Urban Musical Story


An Urban Musical story of a Dancer

Artistic Direction by Tamla Matthews and Lennox Glasgow

Toronto – ON, After 15 years of staging Afro-Caribbean dance productions, Tamla Matthews shows us her heart. And who better to tell her own story, than the woman herself. Producing and starring in her true life story of shame, regret and triumph, The Caribbean Dance Theatre presents Tamla Matthews in, Awakening: An Urban Musical Story of a Dancer. Thursday June 17th – 18th 2010.


Awakening opens with Tamla’s fondest childhood memory, dancing in the living room with her six siblings for an audience of one. “My mother would just love to see us all dancing together, nothing made her happier.” But when Tamla starts to take her African dance classes seriously, she quickly learns there’s a price to pay. “I can remember when I was ten years old, coming to school with my African dance outfit. That long multi patterned billowy skirt, with the equally colourful head wrap. At a time when hip hop was gaining global hype, what I was doing just was not cool. I got laughed at. For a long time, I was ashamed of it. ”

The audience will dance with Tamla as she explores ballet and modern forms searching for her identity as a dancer. “I never could feel the soul from other forms that I felt from African dance. And it was a struggle to stay committed because I never saw myself reflected anywhere. The only black dancers I saw were in FAME and in music videos.”

Tamla has to make a tough choice when a life altering opportunity comes knocking. She must decide whether to give up on her tradition in exchange for fame or to give back to the art form that has given her so much.


Awakening brings back traditional African dance form and fuses it with modern Caribbean dance technique. Live musical and spoken word accompaniment intricately reveals a world of diverse dance styles from gospel to reggae. The dancers range in age from 3 to 35, with black women of all different shapes and shades. Their common thread is a deep pride for their art form rooted in Afro-Caribbean heritage. Something Tamla says is her mission in life. “The importance of it is really reflected in my 3 year old daughter. After one performance, she stood holding my hand still dressed in her long colourful skirt and tiny head wrap. Other little girls came over and were gushing, saying, “You look so pretty, just like a princess.” That was emotional for me, because I remember how I used to be ashamed of my dance clothes, and how I longed to be a princess. But she can stand there and be admired and be proud. And maybe now, finally, a little black girl can be a princess too.”


Tamla Matthews has been an active member of the Toronto dance community for over 22 years. An accomplished Artistic Director, Choreographer and dance artist of local and international acclaim, Tamla is a certified fitness instructor and creator of Reggaerobics. She is a mainstay judge at the annual York Region District School Board Dance competition and the Director of Caribbean Dance Theatre. She will be playing herself in this production, and her 3 year old daughter Egypt will be playing “young Tamla”.

Lennox Glasgow is a dancer and dance instructor from Trinidad and Tobago. A well versed educator, Lennox was the Artistic Director of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy competition in Trinidad for 12 years. He has been summoned to places like Japan, Germany and Africa to perform. Calypso enthusiasts may recognize Lennox as the famous Calypsonian Hit Man who performed in the Trinidad calypso circuit in the 1990s.


This production marks the 15th anniversary of the Caribbean Dance Theatre (CDT). Specializing in Contemporary Caribbean based dance styles that celebrate the Caribbean contribution to the Canadian cultural mosaic; Caribbean Dance Theatre’s signature style honours the cultural root, celebrates the present and inspires possibilities for the future of dance in Canada.

Awakening: An Urban Musical Story of a Dancer

Thursday June 17th – 18th 2010 at 8pm

Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge Street)

Tickets range from $25 – $40.

For media inquiries contact:

Roger R. Dundas – Marketing Consultant

Kingston 6 Entertainment –

Call: 416-918-9045 or Email:

Journalist’s doc explores black beauty

The Colour of BeautyThis week the National Film Board of Canada launched "The Colour of Beauty", a provocative short documentary that examines racism and lack of diversity in the fashion industry through the eyes of a young, ambitious Black model living in New York city.

Renee Thompson has got the looks, the walk and the drive. But she’s a Black model in a world where White women represent the standard of beauty. In interviews with industry insiders we hear that agencies seldom hire Black models, and when they do, they want them to look "like White girls dipped in chocolate."

Is a Black Model less attractive to designers, casting directors and consumers? What is the colour of beauty? Canadian fashion icons like Jeanne Beker, host of CTV's Fashion Television and Lisa Tant, Editor-In-Chief of Flare Magazine offer their insights.

Since its online launch this week, “The Colour of Beauty” has gone “viral” on the internet and sparked heated debate on influential sites like The documentary has also been featured on CTV News Channel, Canada AM, Fashion Television,, CBC French radio, Le Téléjournal Montreal and La Presse.

Director of the short documentary The Colour of Beauty, Elizabeth St. Philip is also a full-time news producer. Watch Journalist vs Doc Filmmaker where she describes what she considers to be the differences and similarities between making a documentary and producing TV news in bringing vital and compelling stories to an audience.

To watch The Colour of Beauty click here.

As Canwest Global Dies Shaw Media is Born

Shaw Communications has completed its $2 billion purchase of the bankrupt Canwest Global's TV assets


TORONTO -- It's dead, the white line is drawn round Canwest Global Communications Corp. and now the question is what's next for the fallen Canadian media giant after a leaner player has received a new lease on life as Shaw Media.

"The Asper family built a broadcasting organization which served our country well," JR Shaw, executive chairman of Shaw Communications, the western Canadian cable giant, completed its $2 billion purchase of the bankrupt Canwest Global's TV assets and re-named them Shaw Media on Wednesday.

Over 30 years, the Asper family of Winnipeg built a Canadian-based broadcast empire on debt, with Canwest Global represented in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Northern Ireland.

But after Canwest Global pacted with Goldman Sachs & Co. to acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications Corp. in 2007 -- which included a 50% stake in the lucrative CSI franchise -- the Canadian broadcaster started to buckle under $4 billion in debt to fuel an acquisition binge pursued in better times.

To salvage the company, the Aspers started shopping and eventually selling its international broadcast assets at mostly fire-sale prices.

But by then, the Canadian media group's debt load had ballooned, and the family-controlled empire was in deep peril.

Canwest Global late last year tipped its TV and newspaper assets into separate court-directed bankruptcy proceedings.

That's when Calgary's Shaw family, already broadcasters through their Corus Entertainment TV division, pounced on a floundering Canwest Global empire.

Shaw last February first proposed to secure a controlling stake in Canwest Global to help recapitalize the media group, but opted for an outright acquisition after it faced a knock-down legal battle with Goldman Sachs.

On Wednesday, Canwest Global issued a statement in which it confirmed that it "has ceased to carry on business" after Shaw completed its deal to acquire its TV assets.

Having earlier sold off its newspaper and digital assets, Canwest Global added that its directors and officers have resigned and a court-appointed representative will "commence bankruptcy proceedings."

For Shaw, the strategy is now to rebrand Canada's Global Television network and 19 cable channels to supply the western Canadian cable giant with content that its TV, Internet and digital phone subscribers might pay for, but which would distinguish media group and its varied content offerings from Apple TV, Google TV and other pending competitors in the Canadian market.

"This acquisition brings together outstanding content and distribution capabilities and a team of talented and experienced industry leaders," Paul Robertson, the newly installed president of Shaw Media, said Wednesday.

"Together, we will change the competitive landscape and create a new Canadian broadcasting model that delivers quality content when, where and how our customers want to receive it," he added, eyeing subscribers in the wider Shaw Communications group.

Besides impressing cable subscribers with more video content, Shaw Media is also pledged to launch new morning TV news shows in major Canadian markets, pour new money into homegrown drama production, and help drive Canada's upcoming analog-to-digital transition.

Robertson comes to Shaw Media after serving as the long-time president of the Shaw-controlled Corus Entertainment.

And Global Television will continue to play catch-up with Canada's top-rated conventional TV network, CTV, which itself is subject to a pending $3.2 billion takeover by domestic phone giant BCE Inc.

CTV, which has monster hits like CBS' Big Bang Theory and ABC's Amazing Race, is on a tear after all eight rookie series it debuted this fall received full-season orders.

These include CBS' Blue Bloods, which has secured an total average audience of 1.93 million Canadians for CTV on Fridays, and 1.9 million viewers for CBS' S#*! My Dad Says on Thursdays, and 1.84 million viewers for ABC's No Ordinary Family on Tuesdays.

Source: Etan Vlessing, Hollywood Reporter


The Cultural Desirability of Canadian Broadcasting

In 1984, the newly elected Mulroney government was making noises about cutting CBC’s funding. Fearing for the public broadcaster’s survival, a few supporters gathered in the offices of the Canadian Association for Adult Education to create an organization called, quaintly, Friends of Public Broadcasting. Among its founders were Pierre Berton, Dalton Camp, Chaviva Hosek, Peter Herrndorf, Peter Newman, Ian Morrison (the executive director of the CAAE, who emerged later as the group’s spokesperson), and I. In time, Friends of Public Broadcasting would become Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, concerned with the quality and quantity of Canadian radio and television as a whole, but in the beginning our cause was the beleaguered CBC.

There are two ways to look at the Crown corporation’s $1.1 billion annual parliamentary appropriation: it is both a lot of money, and not nearly enough. In its current configuration — two services, English and French, broadcasting news and entertainment, regionally and nationally, in three formats (television, radio, and the Internet) — CBC needs, not $1.1 billion, but $1.5 billion. The corporation generates the difference by selling advertising, competing with the country’s private broadcasters, and, in the process and by slow degrees, remaking itself in their image. To wit: it now offers its English-speaking audience the popular American game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. More people watch such programs than, say, The Fifth Estate or The Nature of Things, so they attract more advertising. The end is thought to justify the means.

The Canadian broadcasting industry is bewilderingly complex, but as one of the Friends I came to understand that the job of the country’s public broadcaster is to provide culturally desirable programming that private broadcasters cannot or will not provide. The hard part, of course, is defining the words “culturally desirable.” Obviously, the country would be no poorer for the lack of Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. But what about Dragons’ Den or Battle of the Blades? A tougher call, although they are the types of nutrient-free entertainments to which private broadcasters are predisposed. But there are no pat answers here — only the obligation, because the CBC is mostly publicly funded, to ask the question: is this a program, unavailable elsewhere, that enriches the culture? The debates are never ending, and they should be.

Until recently, for instance, it was possible to argue that CBC was performing a public service by televising NHL hockey games. Hockey is a staple to which all Canadians should have access, and in remote regions CBC’s was once the only available signal. But no more. In the digital age, private networks have as much reach as the public broadcaster, and just as much interest in cashing in on the public’s appetite for the game — TSN already owns the rights to many weekday games and some playoff series. Still, CBC TV continues to devote an enormous piece of its prime-time schedule to Hockey Night in Canada, not because private broadcasters are unable or unwilling to do so, but because hockey is money. As with Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, the tail wags the dog.

During the recent, brief tenure of Richard Stursberg as head of English Radio and Television — the subject of Trevor Cole’s article (“Dragon Done”) in this issue — CBC’s pursuit of ratings was motivated by ideology as well as money. Stursberg — and he is not alone — believes the public broadcaster is failing Canadian taxpayers if it caters only to the country’s elites. But chasing mass audiences leads inevitably to a type of programming — the broadcasting equivalent of fast food — that makes CBC increasingly indistinguishable from private broadcasters. Which invites the question: why bother? Surely the point of having a public broadcaster is to provide alternatives to the private broadcasters’ burgers and fries — less popular but more nutritious programs that otherwise would not be on offer.

Canada, as our politicians constantly remind us, is a wonderful country. Too few of them appreciate the role CBC has played in the construction of this kinder, gentler place. If they did, we would not rank near the bottom of Western industrialized societies in our support for public broadcasting. And the likelihood of this changing any time soon is remote, because Brian Mulroney’s was neither the first nor the last Canadian government to look upon CBC with deep mistrust, mistaking its independence for hostility. So the story continues. On its website, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting recently posted a chart showing the decline in government funding for CBC, from 1990 to 2010, indexed by prime minister (Mulroney, Chrétien, Martin, Harper) and expressed in 2010 dollars. To read it is to understand that twenty-five years after the founding of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting the public broadcaster is still beleaguered, and its survival still in doubt.

By John Macfarlane © The Walrus

Media Strategist, CTV Creative Agency, Toronto – 1 year contract

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