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Bhangra is Bangin'

  • The W&M Bhangra Dance Team
    The W&M Bhangra Dance Team
    Members of the Bhangra Dance Team perform at the International Music and Dance Showcase.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

Bhangra is the perfect cultural mash-up. This traditional dance from the Punjab region of India is the kind of high-energy, beat-driven, wildly colorful phenomenon that seamlessly absorbs musical influences—dancehall, hip-hop—without losing its roots.

It also draws in dancers from all cultures and backgrounds. Just look at the William & Mary Bhangra team, a squad that’s become a campus sensation.

“We have people of African heritage. We’ve got a Korean guy on the team. We have people from all over,” says Anoop Kochar, former team co-captain. “We’ve had people who grew up in Virginia and had no idea about Indian or Punjabi culture at all.”

Check out a W&M Bhangra show and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. These guys and gals can move. Every year the choreography becomes more complex, the outfits more elaborate, the routines inflected with more funky influences and the beats even more infectious.

Now it seems like everyone wants to Bhangra. At the “Born 2 Bhangra” show, team members brought people onstage to teach them some moves. So many people have shown up to tryout that the captains formed a five-person JV squad.

The varsity team has 16 members (8 men and 8 women), 12 of whom travel to competitions and shows with other college squads.  Competitive Bhangra has become huge in the past few years. There are at least 10 college teams in the Virginia/D.C. area and each one is out to be the best. We happen to be partial about our guys…

If you want to join the fun, keep an eye out for tryouts in the fall. But you might want to step up your aerobics routine first. Tryouts last a week.