Thrice every week through the faculty 12 months, desi power overtakes campus as Stanford Bhangra practices for its upcoming competitions. In vibrant kurtas and turbans, with necklaces glowing and phuman pom-poms waving, college students carry out sleek choreography to the rousing dhol drum beat and energetic melodies of Punjabi music.
The scholar dance group has weathered the pandemic — with veterans proudly bearing the identify ZoomBs — and continues to compete nationally, along with performances on and round campus, as they’ve since their inception in 1996.
The dance type traces its origins to a a lot earlier time, originating within the Punjab area of modern-day India and Pakistan as a approach for farmers to have fun through the competition of Vaisakhi through the late 1800s. The vacation marks the beginning of the harvest season and the Sikh New Yr.
“Since then, Bhangra [has] modified and unfold lots. There’s a Bhangra diaspora within the U.S., Canada, the U.Ok., India and Australia,” stated Josh Singh ’24, a staff captain for the previous two faculty years.
Singh defined that each member of the group, or “Bhangra Tree,” is anticipated to remain educated on present occasions in Punjab and their repercussions around the globe. Typically, the group has discussions about how finest to indicate respect to those that created the dance type, together with through the Punjab farmers’ protests in New Delhi in 2022.
“For non-South Asian members, it’s a very good alternative to study,” Rebecca Spencer ‘24, a captain for the 2022-23 faculty 12 months, stated. “I really feel so fortunate that I’m surrounded by a group the place everybody’s prepared to study and desires to show on the similar time. We don’t detach dance from tradition. We’re making an attempt to show little bits of Punjabi to all of the individuals on the staff, encourage individuals to take Punjabi language courses or go to the Gurdwara after they have time.”
Cultural training is only one factor that bonds members of Stanford Bhangra collectively. At its core, the group is a aggressive dance staff, and the chance to compete in nationwide competitions gives a serious supply of bonding and delight.
The season kicks off throughout winter quarter when potential Bhangra Bushes put together their audition movies of the choreography chosen by Bhangra’s artistic administrators and captains. Winter can be when the staff actually grows shut, each out and in of follow. Each quarter, staff members attend a retreat off-campus the place new and returning members mingle.
Throughout prolonged practices, the staff turns into like “siblings,” as Singh described it.
“These are individuals you dance with, sweat with, bleed with and are bonded to,” Spencer added.
The staff then launches into follow for the competitions at which it have been chosen to carry out. Stanford Bhangra participates in as much as three competitions in a 12 months.
“Some competitions need longer units or shorter units, and others give additional factors for gimmicks or props,” stated Ankush Dhawan ‘24, a Bhangra captain.
Many groups rent dhol drum gamers from outdoors Stanford to reinforce their performances or use props like kainchiyaan (white picket accordion-like percussion devices) or phulkari and khundi sticks. A very powerful half, although, remains to be the dance. Dancing even easy Bhangra units might be bodily taxing due to the number of footwork and jumps.
The vast majority of Stanford Bhangra members have by no means danced Bhangra — or danced in any respect — earlier than faculty. They’re typically introduced in by mates or siblings or just after seeing college students carry out throughout admit weekend.
This often occurs on the membership’s “convey your buddy to Bhangra” days. In response to Spencer, over 80 individuals got here to the final open Bhangra follow.
Nathan Hu ’24, a captain, stated his favourite a part of the Stanford Bhangra expertise was performing and being part of the group.
“It’s so cool to be part of the completed product,” he stated. “We really feel so related. Dancing is much less about our place within the competitors and extra about having the ability to watch the video afterward and suppose, ‘Rattling, we did that.’”
The artwork type continues to develop its presence at Stanford because the group provides members every year, past its present 30 who make up their group. “The core of Stanford is group, and Bhangra is group — it’s household,” stated Spencer.