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bhangra, folk dance and music of the Punjab (northwestern India and northeastern Pakistan) and the popular music genre that emerged from it in the mid-to-late 20th century. Cultivated in two separate but interactive styles—one centred in South Asia, the other within the South Asian community of the United Kingdom—the newer bhangra blends various Western popular musics with the original Punjabi tradition. It enjoys an immense following in South Asia and within the South Asian diaspora.

The term bhangra originally designated a particular dance performed by Sikh and Muslim men in the farming districts of the Punjab region of South Asia. The dance was associated primarily with the spring harvest festival Baisakhi, and it is from one of the major products of the harvest—bhang (hemp)—that bhangra drew its name. In a typical performance, several dancers executed vigorous kicks, leaps, and bends of the body to the accompaniment of short songs called boliyan and, most significantly, to the beat of a dhol (double-headed drum). Struck with a heavy beater on one end and with a lighter stick on the other, the dhol imbued the music with a syncopated (accents on the weak beats), swinging rhythmic character that has generally remained the hallmark of any music that has come to bear the bhangra name.

In the mid-20th century the bhangra dance began to gain popularity beyond the Punjab, and, as it did so, it became divorced from the agricultural cycle, emerging as a regular feature of wedding festivities, birthday parties, local fairs, and other celebrations. With the change in context came changes in other aspects of tradition. The term bhangra expanded to encompass not only the dance but also the instrumental and vocal music that was associated with it; the large dhol was replaced by the similar yet smaller dholak, played with the hands; various local instruments—such as the flute, zither, fiddle, harmonium (a portable, hand-pumped organ), and tabla (pair of single-headed drums)—were added to the accompaniment; and the topics of the song texts broadened from agricultural themes to include literary, romantic, and subtly comic material. In the later 20th century, guitar, mandolin, saxophone, synthesizer, drum set, and other Western instruments were added to the ensemble.

Bit by bit, bhangra began to amass an audience that extended beyond the boundaries of South Asia to Britain. There the music gained momentum as a positive emblem of South Asian identity, particularly in Southall, the predominantly South Asian suburb of London’s West End. In 1979 a Southall group called Alaap released Teri Chunni De Sitare, a forward-looking album that combined the ornamented vocal melodies and metric framework of bhangra with the rhythmic drive and synthesized orchestral interjections of disco dance music. Offering a modern musical image with a distinctly South Asian flavour, the album received such an enthusiastic response that it catalyzed a craze for the “Southall sound.” The frenzy was fueled throughout the following decade not only by Alaap but by other Southall groups working the bhangra circuit, among the most notable of which were the Heera Group, Premi, and Holle Holle.

Aside from matters of musical style, British bhangra differed from South Asian bhangra in other significant ways. It was initially cultivated through “daytimers,” special midday performances that afforded young South Asian men and women the opportunity to hear the music without violating taboos that restricted such socializing (among South Asians) in the evening hours. These events also provided a venue for men and women to dance together as couples to the sound of South Asian music. This was unprecedented in South Asia, where, if couples danced together at all, they did so to Western popular music. Although the new bhangra eventually seeped into the nightclub scene, the daytime concerts remained integral to the promotion and development of the genre.

The lyrics of early British bhangra, with their focus on partying, dancing, and simply having fun, were generally more repetitive and less substantive than those of their counterpart in South Asia. A change came in the mid-1990s, however, when British musicians such as Apache Indian, with his album No Reservations (1993), and the group Fun-Da-Mental, with Seize the Time (1995), began to use their music as a vehicle for poignant social commentary. Not only did these and other artists address such issues as racial conflict and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but they tapped stylistic features of reggae, rap, and other African American and Afro-Caribbean popular music genres that were internationally emblematic of sociopolitical resistance. Alongside these topical changes, the song texts shifted increasingly from Punjabi to English or to a mixture of the two, ultimately making the music more appealing to an international market.

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Meanwhile, bhangra in South Asia experienced similar changes, although its style generally retained a clearer link to its rural folk roots. Gurdas Maan was widely acclaimed—and criticized—for his creative juxtaposition of traditional, modern, Western, and South Asian elements, both in his lyrics, which often addressed the clash between Western and South Asian traditions, and in his musical style, which featured a notably polished electronic underpinning. Maan is largely credited for elevating Punjabi music from a regional tradition to one that draws audiences throughout South Asia. Expanding the music’s listenership was indeed one of Maan’s priorities; to that end, he sang in a simplified Punjabi for Hindi-speaking audiences and also composed songs in Urdu, a language closely related to Hindi and spoken in northern India and Pakistan.

Both bhangras have continued to develop—albeit along somewhat different trajectories—in the 21st century. The South Asian style enjoys a tremendous following, particularly within South Asia. The British style, by contrast, has a strong listenership not only in the United Kingdom but also within South Asian communities of Canada and the United States. Some of the British artists, moreover, have been picked up by the world-music industry, which to some degree has allowed them to develop a more diverse intercontinental audience.

Virginia Gorlinski

Bhangra dance

The bhangra was a seasonal (wheat) harvest dance that was performed only by men at the festival of Vaisakhi in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The original diluted since 1947 by relocation of millions of people.

In the 1950s it became a new folk dance that was exported by Punjabi emigrants to other countries. Since 1990 followed a merger with Western dance styles (and music), and annual dance competitions at colleges and universities in Canada and the US. In Britain the Indo-Pakistani expatriate community made of bhangra a clear symbol of their own ethnic identity.
The dance evolves from harvest festival to a fixed part of wedding receptions, birthday parties, local fairs, and other celebrations.

Bhangra dance is (often with Bollywood dance) a fitness dance.

Bhangra is a beautiful, expressive dance, infectiously energetic, full of exuberant joy.
The original dance movements refer to the work on the land: plowing, sowing and harvesting. Several dancers perform powerful kicks, jumps and twists, sharp movements of shoulders and hips, stamping feet, waving their arms and clapping the hands.
The circle dancers make regularly spectacular and acrobatic solos.

Bhangra singers use a high, energetic tone. They sing fierce and proud, with many nonsensical, random noises. The dancers yell hi, hi, hi to the beat, screaming loudly balle balle, oye hoi, bruah ... as an accompaniment to the rhythm that is heavy and hypnotic.
A drum roll often marks the end of a song (line). The last sentence is then repeated by the dancers as a choir.

Melodic bhangra makes use of little notes, rarely an octave.
The dhol (double-headed drum) is beaten with a heavy beater and a one lighter stick on the other side. This important and typical instrument creates the characteristic swinging and rhythmic character with lots of syncopation.

Traditionally, men wear a chaadra, a piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist. Then a kurta, a long shirt and of course a Pagri (Turban) on their heads.
Women like to wear a traditional Punjabi salwar kameez dress, a long wide pants that closes tight at the ankle (salwar) and a long colorful shirt (kameez). They also carry chunnis, colorful canvases that are wrapped around the neck.

Bhangra refers to different types of dance

Daan Kara - performed with sticks, often at weddings.

Dhamal - particularly energetic form in a circle with hands in the air and lots of shouting.

Gatka - with swords, daggers, or sticks.

Giddha - This is the woman dance.
Jhumar - men dancing at weddings and other celebrations with a rhythm that is significantly lower.

Julli - can be done by a single person, even from a sitting position.

Kikli - usually hand in hand through pairs of girls or women.

Luddi - the dancer has a hand behind the head and the other hand stretched out.
Saami - is usually considered to be a woman dance.

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The most popular Punjab dance is the bhangra, performed by men. The dance symbolizes the importance of wheat for this state, which is the breadbasket of India. After the sowing is completed, the youth gather in the open field under the light of the full moon. In the center of the circle of dancers stands the drummer (dholak).

The circle is gradually expanding. The dance is characterized by sharp body movements and snapping fingers. One of the participants in the performance sings impromptu verses, others pick them up. This happens throughout the dance. The rhythm of the dance is simple - two or three quarters, the melody is also unpretentious.

The text of the couplets is taken from the traditional oral poetry of Punjab - boli or dhol. With each new verse, the dancers change direction, while singing traditional sayings, for example: "bale-bale", "oai-oai" and "uh-uh". Usually it all starts with a very slow pace, sharp shoulder movements and jumps.

Following this, couples move out from different sectors of the circle, dance for some time in the center and return to their place in the circle. A couple can perform a variety of movements, from very graceful to sharp and courageous. Among them are pirouettes, jumps and squats.

An experienced dancer can perform a whole range of acrobatic movements. He can lap dance while his partner dances on his shoulders. The bhangra dance does not follow any strict rules, but impresses with its spontaneous courage and vitality.

The dance is typically Punjabi, it is difficult to attribute it to any other people of India. In addition to the large circle, the dancers sometimes stand in small circles of three, with a second group of dancers standing on their shoulders or with clasped hands. Such a structure moves at a fast pace. The impact of the bhangra dance is so strong that it influenced the dances of neighboring regions.

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When the rhythm bhangra is included in Western pop music, or an Indian choreographer creates a synthesis of kathak and ballet;

Soca has also been experimented with in Bollywood films, Bhangra , in new Punjabi pop, and in disco music in the United States.

Soca has also experimented with Bollywood films, Bhangra , new Punjabi pop and disco music in the United States.

Today, Bhangra dance survives in different forms and styles all over the globe – including pop music, film soundtracks, collegiate competitions and cultural shows.

Today, the bhangra dance exists in various forms and styles around the world – including pop music, movie soundtracks, student competitions and cultural shows.

Bhangra competitions have been held in Punjab, India, for many decades, with Mohindra College in Patiala being involved in the 1950s.

bhangra competitions have been held in Punjab, India for many decades, with Mohindra College in Patiala being involved in 1950s.

Bhangra originates from a very patriarchal society, it connects to a much deeper set of masculine values.

Bhangra has its origins in a very patriarchal society and is associated with a much deeper set of masculine values.

Bhangra referred both to formal male performances as well as to communal dancing among men and women.

Bhangra meant both official men's performances and communal dances among men and women.

In the past 30 years, bhangra has been established all over the world.

Over the past 30 years, bhangra has been founded all over the world.

Certain bhangra moves have adapted and changed over time but at its core remains a sense of cultural identity and tradition.

Some of the bhangra movements of have adapted and changed over time, but remain at the core of a sense of cultural identity and tradition.

Many people also do bhangra as a source of exercise, it is an excellent substitution to the gym.

Many people also do bhangra as a source of exercise, it is a great replacement for the gym.

Traditionally, Bhangra is danced by men but now we see both men and women participating in this dance form.

Traditional Bhangra is danced by men, but now we see that both men and women participate in this dance.

With Bhangra competitions all over the world, we see all sorts of people competing in these events.

With Bhangra competitions around the world, we see all kinds of people competing in these events.

Nowadays, we see many second - generation South Asian women who are connecting with their culture through bhangra .

We are currently seeing many second generation South Asian women connecting with their culture through bhangra .

Many university and community clubs have stated their own bhangra teams, most of these teams have a wide variety of men and women who come from different backgrounds.

Many university and social clubs have formed their own teams bhangra , most of which have a wide range of men and women who come from different walks of life.

Sarina Jain, was the very first women who created the bhangra fitness workout, which is now known as the Masala Bhangra Workout.

Sarina Jain, was the very first woman to create the bhangra fitness workout now known as Masala Bhangra Workout.

This workout has taught many people all over the world the basic steps associated with Bhangra , allowing them to learn Bhangra in the comfort of their own home.

This training has taught many people around the world the basic steps involved in Bhangra , allowing them to learn Bhangra in the comfort of their own homes.

Raaniyan Di Raunaq is Americas first All-Women's Bhangra Competition.

Raanyan Dee Raunak - America's first women's Bhangra tournament.

Even with the abundance of female Bhangra performers, many see this dance form as only masculine.

Despite the abundance of Bhangra female performers, many consider this dance form to be exclusively male.

Many women that compete in Bhangra shows are judged according to a criterion that is made for male performers.

Many women participating in the show bhangra are evaluated according to the criteria developed for male performers.

Raaniyan Di Raunaq has customized a Bhangra competition just for women or for those who identify as transgender or non binary.

Raanyan Dee Raunak has set up a bhangra contest for women only or for those who identify as transgender or non-binary.

North American Live Bhangra Team named Johr Jawani Da.

North American live team bhangra called Johr Jawani Da.

Bhangra Dance performers in Punjab Kurta and Tehmat wearing.

Dancers bhangra in Punjab wear Kurta and Tehmat.

Bhangra was mainly done by Punjabi farmers during the harvesting season.

Bhangra was mainly made by Punjabi farmers at harvest time.

As they did each farming activity they would perform bhangra moves on the spot.

As they did each agricultural activity, they performed movements bhangra in place.

After harvesting their wheat crops during the Vaisakhi season, people used to attend cultural festivals while dancing bhangra .

After the wheat harvest during the Vaisakhi season, people used to attend cultural festivals by dancing bhangra .

For many years, farmers performed bhangra to showcase a sense of accomplishment and to welcome the new harvesting season.

For many years farmers have performed bhangra to show a sense of accomplishment and welcome the new harvest season.

The origins of traditional Bhangra are speculative.

The origin of the traditional Bhangra is speculative.

The traditional form of Bhangra danced in the villages of Sialkot district is regarded as the standard.

The traditional form Bhangra performed in the villages of the Sialkot region is considered a standard.

Traditional Bhangra is performed in a circle and is performed using traditional dance steps.

Traditional bhangra is performed in a circle using traditional dance steps.

Traditional Bhangra is now also performed on occasions other than during the harvest season and is popular in Pakistan.

The traditional bhangra is now also performed on occasions other than the harvest season and is popular in Pakistan.

Bhangra dance began as a folk dance conducted by Punjabi farmers to celebrate the coming of the harvest season.

Dance bhangra started as a folk dance performed by Punjabi farmers to celebrate the arrival of the harvest season.

The specific moves of Bhangra reflect the manner in which villagers farmed their land.

Specific actions Bhangra reflect how the peasants worked their land.

Punjabi romantic dances include Dhamaal, Bhangra , Giddha, Dhola, and Sammi and some other local folk dances.

Punjabi romantic dances include Dhamaal, bhangra , Giddha, Dhola, Sammi and some other local folk dances.

Bhangra music of Punjab is famous throughout the world.

Bhangra Punjab music is known all over the world.

Swami is a British Indian electronic music/ bhangra / world music act from Birmingham, England.

Swami is British Indian electronic music / bhangra / world music act from Birmingham, England.

The Hindu credited Swami with bringing British bhangra back to prominence in Indian clubs.

Swami is credited by Hindus with bringing British bhangra back to prominence in Indian clubs.

Other forms of music that are popular are Bhajan and Bhangra music, and professional Bhangra troupes may perform at festivities and special events.

Other forms of music that are popular are Bhajan music and Bhangra , and professional troupes of Bhangra can perform at festivals and special events.

Bhangra, a widely popular style of music from Punjab, India has been mixed numerous times with reggae and hip-hop music.

Bhangra, a widely popular style of music from Punjab, India, has been mixed with reggae and hip-hop on numerous occasions.

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