10-Years of Bhangra Celebration in Vancouver

Posted by Nerissa Jawanda & filed under Dance, Festivals, Music.

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The 10-year anniversary of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration (VIBC) brought some of the most renowned Bhangra talent in the world into Vancouver this year! With ten days of jam-packed activities, the festivities ended with two amazing days of performances at the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 6th and 7th, met with thousands of attendees.

I was lucky enough to attend the celebration this year, and appreciated many aspects of the events. It presented me with the opportunity to see some incredible local and international talent in the Bhangra community.

The festival’s interactivity made it such a great experience. The hosts were engaging, and presented a spectrum of information to the audience—from cheerfully teaching the crowd how to pronounce “Bhangra” to giving a heartfelt explanation of VIBC’s mission to bring together people of various cultures, heritages and races in an inclusive and fun way.

The visibly multicultural composition of the crowd stood out to me—the array of individuals from different backgrounds, actively engaging in the festival, exemplified VIBC’s mission.

I brushed up on my Bhangra skills amongst the large audience, as professional Bhangra dancers taught the crowd Bhangra dance moves—the scale of audience participation made this part of the event a standout moment!

The crowd dancing along with the instructors

The crowd dancing along with the instructors

Attendees were also invited to enjoy free samples of Indian cuisine, with food trucks lining the vicinity of the festival.

Some of the Indian desserts I tried while at the festival

Some of the Indian desserts I tried while at the festival

The quality of the performances far surpassed my expectations. One of the biggest performers this year was California’s Bhangra Empire; they have an impressive track record that includes having performed for President Obama’s First State Dinner at the White House and being featured on America’s Got Talent.

To my surprise, non-dance performers were also featured at the festival. The high-energy, local drumming ensemble DNA Dholis, who performed at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and Juno-nominated DJ A-Slam were a couple of the musical talents that graced the stage.

Although there were many captivating performances, my personal favourite was a solo dance performance by Karima Essa. Her routine infused a mix of Western and Indian influences, with a tracklist that transitioned from traditional Indian music to pop music seamlessly.

Karima Essa's performance

Karima Essa’s performance

VIBC heavily promoted the hashtag “Bhangra Love” (#bhangralove) this year.

T-shirts and posters advertised the hashtag, while the hosts encouraged individuals to use the hashtag when sharing their experience of the festival on social media. Their campaign was quite successful, with hundreds of posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Check it out for some great photos and videos from this year’s events!



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