If you’ve ever seen Geneseo Bhangra perform, you know how exciting and difficult the performances are. I can attest to this firsthand after attending a Bhangra workshop on Monday Sept. 14 at the Knight Spot. Team member junior Varna Nair explained that her favorite part of being in Bhangra is that “we’re just basically a huge family.” I could tell that the team was very close from the start. They all chatted and laughed comfortably with one another.
We introduced ourselves while stretching then jumped right into learning a routine. The Bhangra captains showed us a couple of the basic moves to start. As I struggled these “easier” moves, I knew this was going to be even harder than I thought.
One move that the Bhangra captains taught us is called “pataka.” They nicknamed this step “the firecracker” because it’s powerful and most often used in explosive parts of routines.
Another move we learned is called “faslan.” This is one of the only moves in Bhangra that allows for arms to flow in a more fluid manner—the majority of Bhangra steps are clearly defined and sharp.
As a former dancer, I enjoyed the fast-pace nature of Bhangra––the captains taught us a whole routine in just a half hour. Prior dance experience didn’t help me with Bhangra, however; it’s such a unique form of dancing with which I was entirely unfamiliar. I certainly didn’t have the routine down pat, but I was exposed to a lot of fun new moves.
The music of Bhangra is also appealing and entertaining—the songs all utilized beats that made me want to get up and dance. The way the team members used modern songs with an added Indian twist seamlessly blended the traditional Bhangra culture with contemporary culture.
Though this music is less conventional for a Bhangra dance, Nair explained that the clothing they wear during a performance is indeed traditional garb. “Bhangra is from the state of Punjab in India … the outfits that we wear are from back in the day, [and they] represent the different colors and how the state itself is very colorful,” she said. Dynamic dancing in vibrant colors certainly attracts a large audience.
Nair explained that the team captains will teach a combination during their upcoming audition dates on Sunday Sept. 20 and Monday Sept. 21 from 3-5 p.m. After that, those auditioning will have a chance to work on the routine with help from team members.
Bhangra is undoubtedly a highly energetic activity and it was much more fun than I expected. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do any of the moves, but once I got into the rhythm, it was a lot easier to grasp the choreography. Bhangra dancing is just as entertaining to participate in as it is to watch.