From highland to hoop dancing, from hip-hop to dance hall, from Balkan, Brazilian, Jewish, and flamenco teams to multimedia mashups by international recording stars, this is the City of Bhangra Festival 2015! To keep you on track, here’s cheat sheet of what we’re all about! Join us in the heart of two cities—Vancouver and Surrey, from May 28-June 6 for days of dance, music, and multimedia celebrating life, love, and community.
Bhangra is a style of folk dance and rhythm that originated in the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. Over time, bhangra has come to represent a variety of folk dances set to a spectrum of musical beats. Driven by the dhol drum, the music of bhangra truly became a phenomenon during the 70s and 80s when the bhangra band movement was born in the United Kingdom.
Bhangra was often performed in small rural towns by young Punjabi labourers, as a way to cut through racial tensions and connect with their communities. In the Punjabi and larger South Asian diaspora, bhangra is used by new generations of dancers and musicians to continue to find new ways of expressing themselves, crafting their identities and connecting with their cultural heritage.
For VIBC, bhangra is about bringing together dance, music and community to celebrate life, love and inclusion. Although it's not a part of the official definition, for us bhangra is a movement. A movement needed to help to build bridges across cultures and strengthen the community through shared experiences. A great example of the power of bhangra to unite communities was Bhangra.me, a 2011-12 exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver, of which and VIBC is proud to have been a driving force! (http://www.museumofvancouver.ca/exhibitions/exhibit/bhangrame-vancouvers-bhangra-story).
We love that our Festival takes place in the heart of two cities, and that Vancouver and Surrey provide such fertile ground for the development of bhangra. With the second largest population of Punjabi people outside of South Asia, Metro Vancouver offers acres of talent and cultural knowledge you just can’t find anywhere else. We’re also lucky to have strong local policies in place, embracing social inclusion and encouraging all forms of artistic expression—ensuring the arts of the region continue to grow and thrive. VIBC’s tagline for City of Bhangra Festival 2015 is #BhangraLove, and we hope you’ll share in that spirit from May 28–June 6 this year!
Blog by Jennifer Webb
Photo by Nas Hajami