Awakening! An Urban Musical Story


AWAKENING!

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.

ABOUT THE STORY:

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.

ABOUT THE SHOW:

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.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

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.

ABOUT THE COMPANY:

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: info@k6e.ca

www.awakeningshow.weebly.com

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

Sway and AMÕI Expand the Media Landscape

By Ashante Infantry

The recent debut of two glossy mags catering to African Canadians is great news for both readers and advertisers. Sway and AMÖI are a welcome sight for the eyes, given that mainstream titles like Toronto Life and Chatelaine rarely carry stories about blacks, unless the focus is crime, sports or music. You’d be hard pressed to find our images illustrating articles on generic topics such as motherhood and entrepreneurship. And American titles like Essence and Ebony just don’t have us northerners on their radar. Toronto weeklies Share, Pride, Caribbean Camera and Canada News Extra are reliable sources of information, but their plethora of “back home” news and archaic layouts don’t appeal to younger readers.

And while Word Magazine has more pizzaz, it’s hard to find and slim on content for older readers. For obvious reasons — freelance work, staff jobs !! — African Canadian journalists in particular have reason to welcome Sway and AMÖI to the media landscape. Those of us with innate knowledge of black culture in Canada should have an edge in landing assignments for the new quarterlies. Sway is in its second year of publishing, while AMÖI is two issues into its first year. Both recently came out with seasonal issues. Here’s how they stack up: AMOI Major props to the single-name publisher, Chioma, for the original vision and savvy to partner with publishing giant Metroland (owned by Torstar Corp.) to get Sway off the ground in 2005. And when that relationship soured, it’s equally impressive that she had the fortitude to round up backers and launch under a new banner before Sway’s new minds got their act together. AMÖI’s second issue is a healthy 122 pages with A-list advertisers and press-shy Michael Lee-Chin, the Burlington billionaire from Jamaica, on the cover to coincide with the opening of the Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Less savoury is Chioma’s liberal use of the $4.50 mag to promote Chioma: the Lee-Chin story has her byline and she turns up in photos throughout. A rags-to-riches war orphan from Nigeria who migrated to Toronto via Europe and Nova Scotia, Chioma may envision herself a Canuck Oprah Winfrey, but that media icon was a former reporter/news anchor with a long running talk show when she put herself on the cover of O Magazine. As a featured journalist, Chioma’s line of questioning is adequate, but she doesn’t have the star power, or writing chops to bundle herself into the main story in every issue. A more burning concern, however, is AMÖI’s blurred line between advertising and editorial. It’s a blow to the publication’s credibility that so many of the ads are twinned to nearby editorial that read like press releases and that some advertisers get to write columns about their wares. SWAY Distributed free, its 74-page summer issue showcases a vibrant, timely cover about Caribana’s 40th anniversary.

It’s great to see experienced contributors like Saada Branker and Global Television’s Terese Sears on the masthead and the magazine impresses with stellar photography and an intriguing array of stories, from the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, to a “whatever happened to” piece on singer Fefe Dobson (at the ripe age of 22) and an update on the Regent Park makeover. But there’s a lack of foresight and continuity. In the opening pages of news digests, a paragraph on Quebec’s first black cabinet minister, the 29-year-old lawyer Yolanda James, begs for a larger piece; and “In Memoriam” photos of slain Toronto high schooler Jordan Manners and Yolanda King, daughter of the civil rights martyr, need text to explain who they were. Next, incongruously, come no less than 15 pages of beauty, fitness and fashion. Very Essence-like, but a turnoff for male readers who will dismiss Sway as a women’s magazine.

While I appreciate publisher Cheryl Phillips’s Bajan background and — given the scant ad count — the much-needed revenue from the 11-page Barbados supplement, I just hope Jamaica isn’t next. Talk about travel destinations most African Canadians don’t need tips on! The demographic that Sway needs to stay afloat would be better stimulated by insight on affordable holidays in Europe, Africa, South America and the non-English-speaking Caribbean. And my guess is most Sway browsers didn’t think much of “The Black Man’s Pickup” in which a female writer makes the scurrilous claim (replete with “talk to the hand” photo and without an examination of culture or class) that “a loud, lewd and disgusting animal call” is the standard opening gambit for “many” black men.

Criticisms aside, we all have a vested interest in the survival of AMÖI and Sway. So, here are a couple of modest suggestions: Better layout, editorial plan and proofreading. AMÖI’s tendency to run text over photos makes many stories difficult to read, and getting Lee-Chin’s Jamaican hometown right (Port Antonio) and wrong (Port Antoine) paragraphs apart is embarrassingly sloppy. Sway needs to set up some features better and its four “People With Sway” profiles don’t identify the interviewers. Both magazines need to streamline their table of contents and delineate advertising more clearly from editorial. Did the Sway writer actually go to Barbados? If so, who paid for it? Be current. Be Canadian. Be smart. Anticipate and react quickly to shifts in current affairs. Pinpoint the topics and people around us arousing curiosity.

That means no reviews of two-year-old books, no wasted pages of Hollywood movie briefs, no easy stereotypical assertions like “black men are often aggressive and unwilling to take no for an answer.” Employ credible, experienced journalists. A biased view to express on the CABJ website, yes, but one guaranteed to enhance these magazines with more original reporting and first-rate writing. Reputable bylines work to a higher standard than churning out disguised advertorial, or rewriting publicity releases. However, enlisting such scribes implies paying more than the 20 cents a word being bandied about by both publications. The tendency is often to scrimp on writing fees — but readers won’t stick around if the content is limp, and advertisers will be next out the door. Ashante Infantry is a Pop & Jazz Critic at the Toronto Star. She has written for Sway.

Is a Biopic next for Spider Jones?

By Clinton Hosannah

Outspoken and colourful media personality Charles “Spider” Jones was one of only a few black reporters when he started in the business in 1983. He faced adversity – he was jailed more than once as a young person – but the energetic 58-year-old always overcame those challenges and has a list of accomplishments that would make any mother proud. The voice behind the popular CFRB radio program Spider’s Web, has next on his list a movie about his life based on his book, “Out of the Darkness. “If it’s going to be a movie, it’s not about the money,” says Jones. “The message is it’s not where you come from it’s where you’re going that counts.”

Richard Krupka, a screenwriter and director from Toronto, and his brother Edward have written for television in Canada and L.A. for shows like Seinfeld, Frasier and NYPD Blue. The brothers felt Jones’ book would make a great movie and pitched the idea to Spider last summer. He agreed, but only if he could have some significant creative input.

“It has been an amazing, exasperating and enlightening experience working with Spider,” says Richard Krupka. As it stands the script is almost completed and some Hollywood notables have expressed interest in signing on to the project. “There is a certain amount of interest from several studios, I can’t say much until things are finalized,” adds Krupka, but Jones says Shamar Moore might be playing him. In addition to the movie, Jones has just finished writing another book called “How to K.O. Low Self Esteem and Bring Your Dreams Into Reality,” available for purchase in February 2008. He wrote the book because people were always asking him how he remained so positive throughout his life, and how he managed to maintain so much confidence. The book deals with what he calls a psychological predator; low self esteem. The book, dedicated to anyone who has or has had esteem issues, is intended to give readers strategies for defeating the problem.

“Why can’t ordinary people do extraordinary things,” Jones asks rhetorically. In early February he is also releasing the first volume in a collection of cds called, ‘The Spider Jones Family Trivia CD Collection.’ Anyone who knows Spider knows he loves trivia. Jones’ hit radio show The Spider’s Web, on CFRB 1010 airs every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. He’s been doing this show for the last seven years, but has been in radio for over 15 when he joined CHWO on the Rock & Soul Review Show.

His first gig was co-hosting a coast-to-coast TV show called, Famous Knock-Outs, with boxing legend George Chuvalo, in 1983. This experience earned the former boxer and Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame inductee the distinction of being one of the first black men in Canadian media to be broadcast across the country.”When I broke into reporting on sports in this business the only thing black, was the puck,” says Jones.

When asked about the future of journalism, as far as up and coming black journalists are concerned, Jones simply replies: “We need more black journalists for their perspective. We need to show them up front, shining like a beacon of light, but (being) objective, well read and articulate,” says Jones earnestly. That’s the message he brought as keynote speaker to the recent CABJ event “Breakin’ into the Biz.” “Let people see you as successful so you can spread hope. Some lose hope because they don’t see a lot of us out there,” he says.