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Fusion bhangra goes 'balle balle' in US

Bhangra dance fused with disco, reggae, rap or techno is now becoming the rage for all occasions in the US.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 13:32 IST

Bhangra dance is slowly becoming a rage in the US. Fused with genres as disco, reggae, rap or techno, this energising folk dance from Punjab has not only the crowds swirling but asking for more.

Bhangra has now become a part of weddings and New Year celebrations. With its lively, foot-tapping steps, accompanied with dholak (drum), it has surged in popularity across America.

Balvinder Sethi, an avid bhangra fan, says: "It has caught on in a big way in American cities.

"The most popular competition in America is the George Washington University's Bhangra Blowout competition where dancers from all universities in the country participate.

"Would you believe that tickets are priced at $100 and they are sold out a month before the competition?"

Among the other bhangra competitions are North Carolina's Aaj ka Dhamaka, California's Bruin Bhangra, Michigan Arbour's Bhangra Fusion and San Francisco's Dhol Di Awaz.

At the IMF building here, the important parties last year were exclusive bhangra nights with professional dancers.

One participant there recalled: "The whole theme and the evening was devoted to bhangra. It was such an exotic experience."

Rupin Thomas, a compere for such programmes, says: "I think bhangra is a dance that cuts through race and creed. It lifts the spirits of the dancers and is stimulating and invigorating.

"If salsa has taken off in the West, it's because of its latent sense of energy that needs to be dispersed. Bhangra is very much a dance in the same mould."

He adds: "I also think Bollywood choreography has a lot to do with the popularity of bhangra."

From films like 'Kal Ho Na Ho' to "Bluffmaster", the blending of hip hop and bhangra has worked -- and become a craze especially among the South Asian diaspora. That is why a number of dance schools have sprouted in America for teaching bhangra. The dance acts as a workout technique too."

The Washington Post recently featured 'Dhoonya' as the hottest dance school here.

The Post said: "This is the hottest dance school in the nation's capital where you will find attorneys, politicians, doctors, economists and students alike bobbing their heads, shimmying their shoulders, and shaking their hips to the latest Bollywood tunes."

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 13:22 IST