THE City of Bhangra has for years pushed the edges, presenting experimental mash-ups of bhangra with tap dancers, African rhythms, highland dancers and more. Each one has been full of delightful surprises, and cross-woven grooves.
TransFusion opens this year’s festival, ably led by MC and beatboxer Rup Sidhu and choreographed by Hardeep Sahota, with performances by Native Thunder Productions, JCC Shalom Dancers, Now or Never Crew, Leela Dance, and the Royal Academy of Bhangra, all accompanied by Karn Bhuller on Dhol.
Native Thunder’s Alex Wells is a member of the Lil’wat Nation from Mount Currie, BC and performs the Hoop Dance, a magical evocation of the creation of life, and one of the most difficult dance styles around – he sometimes uses up to 22 hoops! Nelson Leon, a member of the Sts’ailes First Nation (Harrison Hot Springs, BC), is a natural leader with the gift of song and drum. Don’t miss their exhilarating performance!
Leela Dance Group was formed by young dancers in Vancouver wanting to celebrate their Indian heritage. The choreographers, Deepak and Monisha Manhas, Divya Thakore, and Sabrina Saran, and all of the dancers have competed and performed internationally. Representing many different backgrounds, including Garba, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Bhangra, and Bollywood, the group enjoys creating new and original dance moves to the season’s most popular musical hits.
The JCC Shalom Dancers have become ambassadors of the Greater Vancouver Jewish Community, representing and educating through dance the importance of peace, Jewish history, and culture.
In 1997, in Coquitlam, B.C., a youngster named Lawrence started his break-dancing career after watching a few clips his brother downloaded from the internet. After finding a few like-minded young individuals in the area, the Now or Never Crew was formed. The crew has travelled the world together, representing Canada in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, the USA and was featured on the world stage at the 2010 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony, and many, many more!
Founded in 2011, the Royal Academy of Bhangra is the first not-for-profit academy in Canada to offer a formal Punjabi Folk Dance education with a syllabus consisting of three grade levels. The Academy’s Dance Director, Hardeep Singh Sahota, was key in the development of the bhangra syllabus program for all Canadian Dance Teachers, BC Branch. The Academy successfully uses bhangra as a creative outlet to promote skill, discipline, and physical fitness, and to provide team building and leadership initiatives for youth.
MC and Beatboxer Rup Sidhu is an interdisciplinary artist and facilitator whose work meets at the intersection of social justice and the arts. Rup has spent the past 15 years growing his understanding of anti-oppression and empowerment work as related to an artist’s role in society.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience First Nations, Jewish, Hip-Hop, and Garba dancers creating intercultural mash-ups by blending bhangra moves with their own indigenous folk traditions. Creative Concept by Tarun Nayar. Presented with support from Canada Council for the Arts. Come early for our Opening Reception at 6:30 p.m.
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards, 149 West Hastings
Thursday, May 29, 6:30 p.m. Reception, 8 p.m. show.
The night’s still young! From 9 p.m. join the party at High Society: Reggaeton Bhangra at Ginger62, exploding with turntable talent. Celebrate Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration’s 10th Anniversary with DJs Lajit and Reminisce as they curate a vast repertoire of Bhangra hits from the 80s and 90s – UK bhangra meets Punjabi folk, with a dash of electronic flavours to round out the mix. Joining them will be Su Comandante, one of the region’s most diverse DJs, to spin reggae, dancehall, Latin, reggaeton and – yes – even some bhangra beats. Come early, dance till late. Presented with A-Town Productions.
Seeing Amar “DJ Lajit” Jitla wind up a room is really something extraordinary. A vanguard in the world of music, this working DJ, remixer, sound engineer, and visual lighting specialist takes opposing genres and uses vocals over instrumentals like no one else. Hailing from the place of cool waters – Nairobi, Kenya – DJ Lajit’s formative years of listening to classics from Alaap, Malkit Singh, and Bally Sagoo influenced his style behind the DJ booth as well as in the studio. As a permanent fixture of A-Town Productions, DJ Lajit is transforming the city’s South Asian music scene, taking it from underground to crossover success in Vancouver and beyond.
As one of the pioneers of the Canadian West Coast bhangra and Hip-Hop scene, Reminisce has DJ’d at the largest parties and composed music for today’s most popular artists. His sound gives gracious nods towards Rishi Rich, Bally Sagoo, Jassi Sidhu, and Juggy D, among many others. His beats combine his knowledge of traditional Indian music and modern Hip-Hop, resulting in a critically acclaimed style that is both original and irresistible. He is now venturing into the music world as an artist and running his successful DJ’ing company Maximum NRG Roadshow with his partner Amar “DJ Lajit” Jitla.
Raul Espinoza grew up in El Salvador and moved to Victoria at age 13, where he taught himself to use turntables, and became DJ Su Comandante in 2000. Since then, he has opened for acts such as K-OS, Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Yellowman, Kinnie Starr, Kytami, Alpha Yaya Diallo, and the Boom Booms. He has been featured at festivals in Victoria and at Diwali and Under the Volcano in Vancouver, and hosted an underground hip hop radio show for five years at CFUV in Victoria. He is on staff at Highlife Records on Commercial Drive, and spins regularly at the Reef Restaurant on Main Street.
High Society: Reggaeton Bhangra
Thursday, May 29 @ 9 p.m. – Ginger62, 1219 Granville Street