The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Bhangra Beat participates in statewide competition for its 11th year

4 min read
By ESTER SALGUERO The International Living Community hosted the University of Mary Washington’s anticipated 2015 Bhangra Beat on Friday Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Center. Ten minutes before the show and the crowd was already pumped with Punjabi music mixes. One particular song even included some of N.W.A’s unique songs.

Max Hellmuth


The International Living Community hosted the University of Mary Washington’s anticipated 2015 Bhangra Beat on Friday Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Center. Ten minutes before the show and the crowd was already pumped with Punjabi music mixes. One particular song even included some of N.W.A’s unique songs.

Continuing the 11-year-long tradition alongside UMW was James Madison University and the College of William and Mary.

Altogether, there were six performances between the three universities. Representing each university accordingly was UMW’s Eagle Bhangra, UMW Breakers, UMW Performing Arts Club, W&M’s Dhamaal Bhangra, W&M Afsana Bollywood and JMU Bhangra.

A German exchange student majoring in psychology, Maximillian Hellmuth, along with Zaïre Sprowal, a junior majoring in physics and Reed Kingsmen, an anthropology major, introduced the show with a humorously scripted commentary.

“It was a tough one trying to get them out of the library,” noted Kingsmen when introducing W&M’s Bhangra team.

There were also three judges present to decide who would be the winner of the competition. The judges were Avi Jaggi, who graduated from George Mason University, Jilian Carrigan and Bilal Ali who both graduated from the University of Virginia. As well-known dancers they decided the fate of the Bhangra dancers.

Bhangra dancing originated from the Punjab region of India and traditionally only men would dance, however, as it has become more modern women became part of the dance. As the music style became more progressive those who preform Punjabi started to mix in hip-hop and rap.

The two Eagle Bhangra dancers who are actually from India are Aashna Jain and Shoba Negi. Jain is also co-president of the International Living Community.

The International Living Community was formed in 1998 and is now a student-driven residence hall group located in the Framar House. Anyone can join the community after filling out an application and going through an interview as long as the members agree. It is also important to have an interest in understanding different cultures to take part in this lively group.

The first group to perform was Eagle Bhangra with the women wearing the traditional chunnis, salwaars, and chughis. Half were in beautifully extravagant colors of bright royal blue paired with a vibrant pink and the other half were wearing lively green paired with a stark red. The two men in the group had their traditional chadar bottoms with the chughi top in a solid sky blue color. One woman wore the traditional men’s garb for symmetry.

As Eagle Bhangra began their performance, the crowd zoned in on the dance floor. Students hooted and shouted out of spirit for UMW. Shibani Gautam, president of Eagle Bhangra and co- president of the International Living Community, was in synch with all the other members of Eagle Bhangra.

The traditional saap dance accessory brought the whole performance together as its wooden slap sound synchronized with the beat of the music.

“Bhangra Beat is an event that promotes culture and diversity at Mary Washington,” Gautam said, referencing the friendly competition that many people look forward to during the fall semester.

Second to perform was JMU Bhangra who sparked excitement in the crowd by shouting out in unison as a part of their performance. UMW Breakers came next with their freestyle break dance performance to 70s style hip-hop music. A lot of the members were able to hold freezes with their faces fixed to the ground as if they were kissing the floor.

Fourth to perform was W&M Dhamaal Bhangra, and it must be said that they were quite the competition with their sneaky tactics of surprisingly bringing out the saap instrument when moments before their hands were empty. This innovative technique ultimately won them the competition

They also gave a short description of the traditional garb that is worn during the dance that was originally performed during the harvest season in India by men only. The music came alive with W&M’s performance.

“The energy of the dancers was riveting and a really enjoyable performance that truly represented a portion of India’s culture,” said Alyssa Zanzucchi, a sophomore environmental science major who attended the event.

The Performing Arts Club was fifth in line performing “Squad Goals” choreographed by Shobha Negi. Last was W&M’s classy Bollywood dance performance which ended the night offromantically as their heartwarming choreography won the crowd over with its flirtatious dance moves between the dancers.

In between the performances prizes were raffled off. Some of the prizes included were a $15 gift card to Starbucks, movie packages, limited edition Eagle Bhangra water bottles, a Chipotle gift card and an iPod shuffle.

Eagle Bhangra has performed at many other locations, such as UVA, and they are also planning to perform for the Alter Egos step team and at a Downtown Fredericksburg event this year. Bhangra Beat has grown since it first started 11 years ago as a small group showcasing South Asian and Middle Eastern Culture using the Underground for performances.

Eagle Bhangra’s fall semester performances include “Small Show” hosted by the Performing Arts Club and “Taste of Asia” hosted by the Asian Student Association, both of which have already passed.

Their most important performance of the fall semester however, was a competition with lots of ‘oomph’, Bhangra Beat.

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