We've assembled a few dance clips with the assistance of Vicki Virk of Dholrhythms for you, dear readers, to get a better understanding of what Bhangra is all about. Striking is not only the amount of choreography and staging in each clip, but the joy of the dancers!
Route to Bhangra
Bangin by Lehmber Hussainpuri
Balle Balle by Sukshinder Shinda
Bobby Friction and Nihal Present
Ground Shaker by Feroz Khan
Jashan 2005 by Amrinder Gill
Dance Connection 3 by Bally Sagoo Return of Blackout by Jazzy B
Ultimate Bhangra 8
left to right: Sukshinder Shinda, Jazzy Bains, Amrinder Gil, Lehmber Hussainpuri
Make no mistake from the poor image quality, this is a recent video broadcast on Spanish television. Note the compas guide at the bottom of the screen as the video begins. A beautiful and stunning performance!
I was going to post about Beyonce's new video a few days ago but just didn't get around to it. Imagine my surprise to read in today's papers that her fans are requesting a 'do-over'. They want her to re-shoot it claiming
Now, I don't own one Beyoncé or Destiny's Child album but I will give her much credit in that not only can she sing, but Beyoncé can move. The video really doesn't give the audience anything new in terms of creative direction, but towards the middle, she does a dance that is purely African influenced choreography.
What I find alarming is that anyone who knows these dances would get really excited to see such an international star devoting the climax of her video to these movements, and yet its a bad sign that a majority of her fans (and there are millions of them) have no clue this is what she was doing.
Instead, they ask for a do-over. Lets hope Beyoncé keeps her video like it is and brings more African dance into her act!
International Exposure to Root's Global Dance and Music Scene
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Categories: Classroom, Performance, Community, Travel, Best Overall
Root Magazine is now accepting entries for its First Annual Photo Contest. The contest is open to all interested parties and the entry is FREE. Regardless
of whether you are a professional or an amateur, a digital shooter or a
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pose, you can enter the contest.
"We're launching this photo contest to bring in ethnic dance photography from all over the world, to share the essence of Root
and its mission to bring together the best in global dance and music,
and more importantly, to showcase our visitors and their talents."
Marcy Mendelson, Root Publisher
Images will be judged on overall photographic and artistic quality. 1st and 2nd place winners will be chosen in each category and there will be a BEST OVERALL winner. This contest is FREE! There are absolutely no entry fees... so enter today!
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Contest winners will be notified by Sept. 25th and announced by October 1, 2006. All winners will be posted online. Photo Essays may be part of the prize, so send in your photos today for a broader chance of being discovered.
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July's Xtra Dance of the Month is Bhangra.... we bring you this essay written by Vicki Virk, founder and dancer/teacher of DholRhythms in California. All photos courtesy of DholRhythms.
Spirit of Bhangra
Bhangra is a beautiful and spirited form of expression that will engulf you
in its spirit of celebration as soon as you experience it. It’s a celebration
of life and is done with zest, enthusiasm, and energy. It is perhaps the most
vigorous form of South Asian Dances. Bhangra originated in the fertile land of Punjab, India.
Punjab means land
of five waters (rivers); it is a Northwest region of the Indian Subcontinent,
currently spread amongst Indian states of Punjab, Jammu
& Kashmir, and parts of Himachal, Hariyana and Pakistani Punjab.
If you ever attend an Indian wedding reception, most often the music that
people end up dancing to is Bhangra. It’s
an energetic and free spirited dance that once you hear the music, you can’t
help but move your feet to the beat. When listening to Bhangra, you will find genuine expressions of
happiness and joy being shared among those dancing. You will often find people
dancing in circles with anyone and everyone around them. The music is so
vibrant and has almost an intoxicating effect on those listening as if some
chemical gets released in their bodies when the dhol(drum) beats kick in. You
will find people smiling, shrugging their shoulders, looking up at the sky as
if thanking heavens for that moment. It’s truly a beautiful thing to watch as
it brings out the free spirit and inhibited emotions and allows people to move
their bodies freely in a way that brings release.
Though Bhangra may have existed longer, its history can be traced as far back
as 500 years. Bhangra was created among farmers while they worked in fields.
Traditionally performed to celebrate the harvest, bhangra reflected the
enthusiasm and appreciation shared among rural folk as they witness their hard labor
bear fruit. Bhangra season concludes with Baisakhi, a festival that marks the
arrival of the harvesting season. Baisakhi
always falls on April 14th, and marks the beginning of the solar
year and is therefore also celebrated as the New Year among Punjabi’s.
The basic movements in Bhangra
relate to farming activities like ploughing, sowing, and, harvesting. The main
instrument played during bhangra is a barrel size drum called the Dhol. Its
strong bass beats are so contagious and can lure even the most dedicated of
wallflowers onto the dance floor. Other instruments played during bhangra are a
instrument called the tumbi, and a multi layered string instrument,
somewhat similar to the violin called, sarangi. Some other small instruments
used to add more sound, are sapera, supp, and chimta (clamps) and
smaller drums such as the damru and dholki. Though traditional performances
most often include many of these instruments, Dhol is still the most important
and most common instrument used in Bhangra.
Unlike devotional invocations and prayers attached with other classical Indian
dances, Bhangra is closer to nature, and down-to-earth. Its sprit and energy
celebrate nature and all its glory and its expression represent a genuine and
humble appreciation for all that the universe bestows on us. Bhangra is truly one of the most joyous and
celebratory forms of dancing. It is no longer done just among farmers and can
be seen at any happy/festive occasions and celebrations especially weddings.
Many popular movies such as Monsoon Wedding and Bend it like Beckham show Bhangra
being performed as part of family celebration.
Bhangra tracks are a combination of 4 on 4 drumbeats played
on a dhol. Now, dhol beats are also often fused with other instruments such as
flutes, tablas (a smaller Indian drum), and synthetic sounds. Oftentimes
hip-hop or Latin grooves are also mixed in. If you've heard Missy Elliott's
"Get Ur Freak On", you've heard Bhangra bass.
Over the last 40 to 50 years, Bhangra has really grown in
popularity. With a large number of
people having migrated from Punjab to England, Canada, and America, the contemporary Bhangra has become a synergistic blend of its
traditional origins and contemporary musical styles ranging from Reggae, Techno
and Hip-Hop. Bhangra has evolved into a global sound and can now be heard in
the mainstream media throughout the world. The sound is very popular and well known in
the UK as that is where the largest number of Indians migrated. It’s now gaining more recognition and
attention in North America as the younger generation of South Asians as they take their Indian
heritage and fuse it with their American identities and share the sound with a
global audience. In spite of the fact that Bhangra still remains undefined, the
form continues to reach a wider and global audience and is truly emerging as a
popular sound played in night clubs and parties by well known DJ’s and producers and entices the
young and old alike.
To get a taste of Bhangra, you can check out San Francisco’s very own NonStop Bhangra
Dedicated to sharing the spirit of Bhangra, and teaching and promoting
this beautiful art form, NonStop Bhangra happens every month at the Rickshaw
Stop and gets 3-400 of the most diverse audience coming together to revel in
its spirit of celebration. It combines
lessons, performances, drummers, musicians, DJ’s, dancers, all dedicated
raising awareness about this vibrant dance form. NSB is hosted by Dholrhythms,
which also offers classes, workshops and performances all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
A new documentary is now in theaters in the US called Favela Rising. Illustrating the power of music and dance through revolutionary social movements, the synopsis reads:
FAVELA RISING documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian
squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many
of his friends, Anderson Sá is a former drug-trafficker who turns social
revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum. Through hip-hop music,
the rhythms of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance he rallies his community
to counteract the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained
by corrupt police.
At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is overcoming all odds and
Anderson’s grassroots Afro Reggae movement is at the height of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.
Winner of numerous awards, this feature is on its way to the Oscars for sure.
View the trailer and find out where its playing in your town: Favela Rising
From one our readers comes this brilliant article about the film, Vengo by Tony Gatlif. It is an exploration of the director's use of thematic codes and symbolism.
Vengo explores the continuity and multi-faceted influence of the Roma and North African cultures in Andalusia through a narrative structure that employs similar patterns of continuity and duality. Gatlif's multi-layered exploration of regions and cultures marked by the sirocco is guided by a brilliantly coded series of symbols and alter-narratives that are woven together by recurring symbols such as wind, water, music, circle dance and light, among several others. Thus the film's most prominent symbols are the very elements/features that link the seemingly separate lands and traditions of Spain, North Africa and India.