Bhangra Across Cultures: Experience the Sights and Sounds of TransFusion


Preparations for the City of Bhangra Festival 2014 are fully underway. As the clock counts down and we get closer to the opening, I want to take a deeper look into the many exciting events the Celebration has to offer.

The opening event of the Festival is TransFusion, showcasing a myriad of culturally diverse forms of art and dance. To me, the title “TransFusion” signifies the “transgression” and “fusion” of cultural and artistic boundaries, which opens up a space for different cultures to not only coexist, but to collaborate, unite, and evolve. Indeed, First Nations, Jewish, Hip-Hop, and Garba dancers will be incorporating their own customary dance styles with the movements and music of bhangra, creating exciting and unique intercultural mash-ups. The event will feature both popular contemporary art forms as well as indigenous folk traditions. The dancers will be accompanied by the dhol, the double-headed drum responsible for the pulsing rhythms of bhangra music.

Hip-Hop and beatboxing are relatively new to the cultural scene, but have grown immensely in scope and artistry. Hip-Hop dance is a form of street dance performed to Hip-Hop music, and encompasses a wide range of different styles, including breaking, popping, and locking. Beatboxing emerged from Hip-Hop culture as well. It is a type of vocal percussion that simulates the instrumentation and sounds of Hip-Hop music.

First Nations Hoop dancing will also be featured. Hoop dance is form of storytelling dance in which a solo dancer uses one or multiple hoops to create and represent various narrative symbols. Symbols often include animal figures iconic to First Nations histories, such as the coyote, the eagle, and the snake. The stories that the dancer narrates often suggest interconnectivity and transience of all life, and the hoop itself symbolizes the “never-ending circle of life.”

Garba dancers will also be taking the stage. Garba dance is a traditional dance originating from the Gujarat state of India, and is a joyful celebration of femininity and fertility. Sweeping, side-to-side movements characterize the movement of Garba dance. Dancers move in circular formations around a sacred object, typically an image of a mother Goddess or a clay pot or water-filled vessel, symbolizing her creative energy.

Join us at TransFusion and the City of Bhangra Opening Reception at SFU Woodwards on Thursday May 29, at 6:30 pm. It’s sure to be a spectacular show!

Blog by Vanessa Power

Photo Courtesy Native Thunder Productions

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