drwex (drwex) wrote,

We saw Boston Bhangra 2015 and it was a stompin' good time

If you have no idea what bhangra is then you likely aren't a regular reader of my music entries. Start here: https://soundcloud.com/search?q=bhangra

I'm amused that the fourth result on that search is Kay V Singh from Boston Bhangra 2015. We didn't stay for the afterparty to see Mr Singh in person but his music was used by many of the teams that competed. That is, Boston Bhangra is a team dance competition. Teams of 12 or 16 dancers did their routines to a mix of both traditional bhangra and much-updated bhangra that incorporates riffs from goa, from EDM in general, and even from rap/hip-hop (check out https://soundcloud.com/jhakaas-ent/non-stop-bhangra-mixtape-2014).

The dance routines were extremely energetic - even the kids' teams - and frequently gymnastic. Like a lot of traditional folk practices that have survived, bhangra dance has evolved and incorporated modern elements. Some of it is pure showmanship - fireworks, puppetry - and some is more intense individual performances including solo singing, drumming, and outright gymnastic moves such as splits, flips, and partner lifts.

Talking about dance is kind of fail, so watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFBOfGbHDPU
This video, showing Bhangra Empire doing an exhibition routine, gives you a good flavor of how the choreography is synchronized, how gymnastics fits in, and also how the dancers continue a routine across fairly radical changes of the music. It's just a ton of fun to watch and makes me wish I was younger and in better shape. (The youngest competitor was announced as 12 years old and none seemed to be over 30.)

The teams at BB'15 were mostly collegiate - MIT, BU, and Cornell all had teams - and some were regional. There was one from Toronto, one from North Carolina, and a couple more out-of-towners I don't remember. sweetmmeblue and I weren't precisely the only round-eyes in the audience but pretty close. Most of the audience seemed to be family members and friends of the various performers, as well as members of their troupes who traveled along but didn't go on-stage for this performance. It was colorful and fun and the food from Shalimar wasn't bad either.

I have to admit I was kind of out of my comfort zone thinking about doing this but I'm super-glad I did. It was a blast and I will try to see the competition again next year. The sponsoring organization puts on a different show in February which I also plan to check out.
Tags: music, review
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