Bhangra dance troupe to host workshops, auditions

Students in colorful attire dance in Woolsey Hall.

Those who enjoy modern dance, are a fan of hip-hop, or simply relish a good, high intensity cardiovascular workout might consider joining Yale Jashan Bhangra, a cultural dance group at Yale that performs the traditional folk dance Bhangra.

Bhangra, which originated in the Punjab region of India, was initially a celebratory folk dance created by India’s agricultural community to celebrate the arrival of spring. Over time the dance evolved from being agriculturally oriented to growing in popularity as a music and dance form closely associated with the Bollywood film industry.

Over the past 30 years it has steadily increased in popularity, according to Tran Le, the current co-captain of Yale Jashan Bhangra, who joined the dance troupe her freshman year. She credits its most recent growing popularity to its fusion of Western music and rhythms, such as hip-hop and pop.

Bhangra is so much fun because it’s a very, very high energy form of dance where you’re often literally bouncing on the balls of your feet the entire performance,” said Le. “Not only is it an amazing experience to learn and perform, but it’s also an unbelievable workout, and has become a popular spectator sport of sort. It’s so much fun to watch.”

Created in 2005, Yale Jashan Bhangra is now comprised of more than 20 members who remain very busy with various performances and nationwide competitions throughout the year. This activity begins in the fall when the team meets three times a week to learn their new routine for performances. For example, they highlight Roshni, which is a special event that showcases different South Asian dances. This year it will take place at Woolsey Hall at 7 p.m. on December 8. However, before the team begins this work, they first conduct workshops and auditions to find new recruits for their team roster.

Some of my fondest memories from my undergraduate experience were from dancing Bhangra., and I’m excited that I get to experience them again as a graduate student,” said Tasneem Islam, co-captain of Yale Jashan Bhangra. “The diversity on the team, from ethnic backgrounds to different levels of dance experience to academic interests, is unparalleled. It’s what makes the fabric of this team so vibrant and fun to be on.”

Those interested in Bhangra are encouraged to attend any one of Yale Jashan Bhangra’s two free workshops to learn more about the organization and Bhangra dance. The workshops are for anyone interested in the dance form, not just those intending to try out for the team. They take place Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, 7-9 p.m. in Payne Whitney Gymnasium Studio E/F (5th floor),

Following the workshops, anyone wishing to join the team will be invited to auditions, which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 7,  7-9 p.m. in Payne Whitney Gymnasium Studio E/F (5th floor).

For more information on Yale Jashan Bhangra, visit the group’s Facebook page or website, or send an email.

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