By Elizabeth Nailling
Bhangra Union, a dance team at Union that practices and performs bhangra is an example of one of the abundant opportunities for cultural immersion offered on the Union College campus.
Bhangra is a type of folk dance and music originating in the Punjab region, which is located on the border of present-day Pakistan and India. It was traditionally practiced during the April harvesting season when farmers used specific moves to imitate how they farmed their land.
Over time, bhangra became popular as a competitive dance around the world, especially in America, Canada, England, and Australia. At Union, students can learn about this South Asian art form by being a member of Bhangra Union or by attending their performances.
On Saturday, April 2, Union had the opportunity to host an invitational that featured Bhangra Union, Siena College’s Bhangra Team, U-Break (Union’s breakdancing team), and Jacob Larocca ‘12 playing the dhol, the drum traditionally used in bhangra music.
Binghamton Bhangra was also scheduled to perform, but they canceled a few days before the show. Luckily, Bhangra Union’s executive board got together and successfully arranged the dhol segment, which received quite favorable reviews after the performance.
Although bhangra has become a competitive dance, there were no winners or losers at this event as Bhangra Union decided that the invitational should not have a competitive aspect. The elimination of pressure allowed for a more enjoyable and entertaining experience for both the performers and the audience.
This appeared to be the right decision, as Siena’s Bhangra Team had a standout performance. “They have an incredible team! We were lucky to have them on board for the show,” said Aria Walfrand ‘11, Bhangra Union’s co-captain. Union’s performance was also exceptional, and the lack of pressure may have been a factor.
However, Walfrand seems to think that practice was the key, “We practice so hard all year long, and this past week we’ve practiced over two hours every single day. Our hard work most definitely paid off. I couldn’t ask for a better or more talented team to perform in this show,” she said.
So, whether you’re looking for some unique entertainment or would like to learn more about the culture, be sure to watch for future Bhangra Union performances.