Grooving to the Bhangra Beats
Story by: Brandon Chia
Photos by: Yaar Panj-aab Phangra
Gorgeous clothing. Extravagant decorations. Electrifying entertainment. These are the three most prominent features that we commonly associate with weddings from many Indian cultures.
Most of the time the attention would be on the lovely couple, but not everyone thinks about the people who liven up the celebration.
Three dancers in their late teens to early twenties, Almast, Arvin and Ishwar, share with us more on their involvement in Yaar Panj-aab Phangra, which is a dance troupe specializing in this dance.
Both Arvin’s and Ishwar’s interest in Bhangra started early after being exposed to it through events and weddings.
“When I saw the dancers, I became very interested in the dance because it was so energetic that it made me want to join them,” said Ishwar with a smile.
If you thought Bhangra dance was just moving your feet to a beat, you are wrong. Arvin was captured by not only their rhythm and colourful costumes, but also the dangerous stunts that they bravely enact.
“Stunts include jumping on another dancer’s neck or jumping onto their waist. There is even one where three people are swinging at the same time,” exclaimed Arvin.
The three of them shared with me that their group performs at least once during the weekends, mostly for private events.
However, Yaar Panj-aab Phangra has performed on much larger stages. Most recently, they performed on an Indian reality programme called “The Unexpected” on one of Singapore’s local television channel Vasantham.
The Unexpected is a talk show that is currently their fifth season, airing at 9 PM on Monday night.
“This is not our first time performing on that show too. We have performed on every season they have had from the second season,” said Arvin.
Moving past the local scene, Yaar Panj-aab Phangra has gone international within the Asia continent.
Besides performing at weddings in Indonesia, the group has recently ventured to Japan to participate in an arts festival.
“It is a very good experience because you get to mingle with people from other cultures and cultural dancers. You also get to find out more about them and at the same time, share more about yourself,” said Arvin excitedly.
The three dancers are either schooling or waiting for school to begin. However, the question is how do they cope with both their daily lives and dancing?
Thankfully, most of the dance trainings and performances are held on the weekends. As such their schedules are not too heavily interrupted.
“I have to plan out when to study and when I can dance. So with this, I will know when to tell my seniors that I would not be able to attend practices,” said Almast.
Arvin is a Punjabi and treats Bhangra dance as a representation of who he truly is. Through this dance, he wants to shed more light onto his culture in order for it to get its due recognition from the masses.
“With Bhangra, we get to come together and stand up together to show everyone who we really are,” said Arvin.
It is great to see how ardent the youth of today are towards something we might take for granted. If you feel the same way as them, you are in luck because Yaar Panj-aab Phangra is always recruiting new members.
A great plus is that they are very accepting of anyone from any race, gender or religion.
To find out how you can join them as a dancer or as an audience member, check out their social media pages for more information.