Imagine 2600+ people jam-packed in a frenzied campus venue, cheering on animated dancers following a perfectly-rehearsed script of song and dance under the bright lights and stadium sounds of Barton Hall, experiencing THE biggest show on campus!
Cornell’s Bhangra team hosted Pao Bhangra VIII this past weekend, considered the largest bhangra exhibition in all of North America. Teams from NYU, George Washington University, and the University of South California were also in attendance along with Cornell’s own men’s, women’s, mixed, and alumni teams.
“Bhangra” is a traditional, high-energy folk dance originating in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan that has entered mainstream culture by fusing hip-hop, reggae, and house influences with centuries-old South Asian dance routines. College campus teams have remixed original bhangra scores with heavy bass lines and techno beats in a novel East meets West synthesis.
Jay-Z’s featuring of Panjabi MC on his chart-busting track “Beware of the Boys” a few years back indicated that Bhangra beats were here to stay in the West:
This must-see event featured 8 dance acts that showcased complex choreography, show-stopping stunts, vibrantly colored costumes, and thumping Punjabi beats. Many of the teams mixed hip-hop dance moves or breakdance sections into their overall synchronized dance routines, incorporating modern styles with time-honored sequences. Particular crowd favorites involved numerous daring stunts in which team members climbed on top of one another or performed various flips and spins.
As part of Cornell Raas, another Indian dance team on campus, we had the opportunity to guest perform for the show. “Raas” is another traditional Indian dance that hails from the province of Gujarat. In Dandiya Raas men and women dance in two circles, with sticks or “dandiyas” in both hands. It was an amazing experience to dance for such an enthusiastic and responsive crowd!
Such a mass celebration of South Asian culture on Cornell’s biggest stage is reason enough to “Watch dancers fly through the air at a Bhangra show,” listed as #56 on the hallowed “161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do.”
Post By: Deepti Mathur ’10