If you were to come across a member of the College bhangra team, there’s a good chance you’d get a sudden, unexpected preview of one their shows – the team T-shirts bear a slogan that reads “A dance. A life-style. An addiction.”
“That really applies to the mindset,” Anoop Kochar ’10, one of the team captains, said.
According to Kochar, the members practice their routine whenever and wherever they can, experimenting with moves at the onset of any music.
“We do bhangra everywhere,” he said. “It definitely becomes an
showcased extensively in contemporary pop songs. Colorful attire is also an important part of the tradition.
The College club creates a five to seven -minute routine each year, perfecting the moves with two- to three-hour practices once a week. During the week before a show, the group holds three-hour practices almost every day.
“For a show like tomorrow it’s been really intense,” Crystal Nwokorie ’10, a member of the junior varsity team, said about rehearsals for Friday’s show.
The intensity was evident during practice, as a few members could barely finish the routine by the last half-hour.
The choreography for each routine is actually constructed in a kind of open forum, with each member contributing ideas. One member, Ben Yoo ’11, has brought his experience as a break dancer to the team.
“Each person’s influence ends up in the routine,” Kochar said. “There are little stylistic elements you wouldn’t have seen last year.”
Kochar was actually involved with the group before he even attended the College, as it was co-founded by his sister, Aveena Kochar ’07, in 2004. Kochar’s extensive experience as a dancer made him an ideal choice for instructing the team’s male dancers.
Before he finished up his freshman year, the team had elected him as a captain, a task he found challenging while adjusting to college life.
“I was very unsure of how to run an organization like this,” Kochar said. “The team really helped me through it.”
Along with co-captain Sahaj Kohli ’10, Kochar has worked to expand the team’s presence on campus, pushing for more performances and greater awareness of the dance’s history and cultural significance. The team also participates in university competitions across the state, having placed third overall earlier this semester at the University of Mary Washington.
The Friday show, entitled “Born 2 Bhangra,” is the first campus event that exclusively features bhangra performances.
In past years the group has only performed for fundraisers or opened for other groups, but Kochar stated that this show is part of the team’s effort to expand the program.
The team has created a few new routines specifically for the show, and will also perform its original dance as a grand finale. The Old Dominion University bhangra team will also be performing.
“It’s exciting for us because it’s our own event,” Kochar said.
Also included in the show is an audience participation portion, giving audience members the chance to be called onstage and learn some steps. A raffle for private bhangra lessons will also be held.
The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday in the University Center Commonwealth. Tickets are $3 at the door.