‘Book’ your Bhangra 101 spot

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Kwantlen to offer course in popular folk dance

Surrey: Bhangra is going academic in Surrey.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is launching an introductory bhangra course – the first of its kind in Surrey – as part of the university’s cultural studies programming. Students will learn about Punjabi culture through modern and traditional folk dancing and music.

“As a longtime fan of bhangra music and dance, I am delighted that KPU can now bring this exciting cultural practice to KPU students,” said KPU provost and vice-president, academic Dr. Salvador Ferreras, whose PhD is in ethnomusicology.

“As our university realizes its goal to nurture innovative and engaged global citizens, this new bhangra course ignites our campus with rhythm, dance and song. This course is for anyone looking for a new and wonderful cultural immersion and sharing experience,” he added.

Bhangra is a popular folk dance that originated in the Punjab region of north India and has gained popularity around the world. Over time, it has been integrated with Western dance styles in diasporic communities like the South Asian populations across B.C.

KPU Punjabi instructor Ranbir Johal believes the course will be extremely popular.

“Students will learn much about Punjabi culture and performance traditions,” she notes.

The course instructors, Gurpreet Sian and Rayman Bhuller, are both accomplished musicians.

Sian, who is executive director of the South Asian Arts Society, has participated in dozens of international bhangra competitions and events, including the 2009 JUNO Awards and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

He and fellow bhangra aficionado Raakhi Sinha created a comedic dance musical, “Bollywood Wedding,” which was voted Best Outdoor Interactive Theatre Event by The Georgia Straight in 2009.

Bhuller is a multi-talented musician who plays piano, harmonium, tabla, dholak and dhol, among other instruments. Head of the music program at the South Asian Arts Society, Bhuller has been teaching dhol for more than 15 years and helped develop the curriculum for the society’s dhol drumming courses.

Every year, he ventures to India for private training with Ustad Ramzu Bhai.

KPU’s bhangra course is for anyone wishing to learn more about Punjabi culture through music and dance. The classes are suitable for beginners who have never bhangra danced before, as well as for those who have some prior experience.

“This is a unique opportunity for KPU students to learn the energetic, yet graceful dance form of bhangra,” says Sian. “This studio-based course will also dive into the history and folklore associated with Bhangra dance and music.”

There are no prerequisites. Instruction takes place at KPU Surrey, 12666-72nd Ave., Surrey. For more information and to register, visit kpu.ca