Over 400 people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders gathered together at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre on May 30 to kick off of the City of Bhangra Festival’s tenth-year anniversary. The inaugural event, TransFusion, was a fantastic way to usher in ten days of big beats, beautiful costumes, and mesmerizing dance moves that characterize the spirit and excitement of bhangra!
After a traditional welcome by a representative of local First Nations territories, the show opened up with an introduction by VIBC Board Members Kiran Mander and Vishal Hiralal. Mander expressed her gratitude towards the VIBC and the City of Bhangra Festival for “helping to elevate bhangra and give it the recognition as an art form it deserves.”
As the lights dimmed and the steady beat of the dhol began to pound, MC Rup Sidhu's voice rang out in the dark: “Bhangra weaves a web of hope to link us across religion, race, sexuality, and gender,” he narrated.
Native Thunder Productions took the stage first, and wowed the audience with an impossibly intricate, visually stunning hoop dance routine. The hoop dancers moved in sweeping, circular movements, and created dynamic shapes with multiple hoops by weaving them around their bodies.
The Now or Never Crew gave an energetic, crowd-pleasing performance with their bhangra-infused hip-hop and break dance routine. They were followed by the Leela Dance Crew, performing a beautiful Garba dance with crisp, synchronized movements. The JCC Shalom dancers excited the audience with a flowing Jewish dance routine.
The night ended with a spectacular performance by the Royal Academy of Bhangra, whose traditional, fast-paced routine incited the crowd to cheer, clap, and move. The dhol’s universal beat united the entire audience and dancers alike as they all came back on stage to perform together in an inspiring, multi-cultural encore of movement, music, and harmony.
TransFusion was a truly memorable spectacle, and certainly drew us all in to the inclusive embrace of #BhangraLove!
Blog by Vanessa Power
Photo by Chandra Bodalia