Amit Bhambi has been around Bhangra all his life. The colorful costumes, the upbeat music, the expressions and energetic movements—all of it is familiar to him. When he asks Americans unfamiliar with the Punjabi-style dance what they think of it?
“They usually describe it as a mix of hip-hop and cheerleading with a folk twist,” he told DigBoston.
Bhambi, who co-founded the nonprofit Boston Bhangra with his siblings Amit and Priya Bhambi, will be working with around 50 volunteers this weekend to put on the 15th annual Boston Bhangra Competition on Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre.
He’s hoping it will be a chance to share Bhangra not just with Indians in the community, but with people who don’t know anything about it, he said.
The competition—which begins at 6 pm with an opening routine from Boston Bhangra’s own junior team—will include a dozen Bhangra teams from across the US and Canada. The teams will each perform a Bhangra piece for a panel of judges, which will critique each group on its expression, formations, transitions, costumes, accuracy of movement, and creativity.
Bhangra began as a dance in the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan among farmers. It is characterized by the beat of the dhol (a traditional drum) and traditionally danced in a circle. What started around 70 years ago as a harvest dance has evolved into an international phenomenon complete with pop stars and giant international competitions.
At the end of the night, the judges will award the top three teams after a performance by Bhangra star G Sidhu (who, Bhambi added, performed as a dancer in the Boston Bhangra Competition a few years ago before becoming a famous singer).
Then the night will end with an after party at the Hilton Hotel—a chance for the public to mingle with the teams, dance, and listen to a wide array of Bhangra music.
“If people know what Bhangra is they will get excited about it,” Bhambi said. “If we don’t do it, no one else will. There’s not anyone else committed to Bhangra the way we are.”
BOSTON BHANGRA COMPETITION. SAT 11.17. 6PM. ORPHEUM THEATRE, 1 HAMILTON PLACE, BOSTON. BOSTONBHANGRA.COM/BBC2018