City of Bhangra Fest will focus on Pakistani side of Punjab culture

Published: May 28, 2014


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Bhangra dancers perform on stage at City of Bhangra 2013. Submitted photo.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

The Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society (VIBC) is kicking off its 10th annual City of Bhangra Festival on Thursday.

The vibrant 10-day music and dance festival, taking place in both Vancouver and Surrey, is not only a celebration of bhangra — the 15th century dance form performed to celebrate the Punjabi harvest time — but also a celebration of inter-cultural collaborations across the Metro area.

This year’s most notable collaboration is with the local Pakistani community.

“In the past, we only presented aspects of Punjabi culture found in Punjab, India,” said VIBC director Mo Dhaliwal. “We were presenting the aspects of Punjabi culture that we were most familiar with the stuff that we’ve grown up with.”

As a result, the festival was “missing half the picture,” he said. “There’s no real way of getting a complete picture of what Punjabi folk art is or what the way of life is without taking a look at the Pakistan side of Punjab.”

The Pakistani additions to City of Bhangra include Saieen Zahoor, who is a leading Sufi musician from Pakistan. Dhaliwal describes him as a “living artifact” of the culture, as he spent most of his life singing and performing in Sufi tombs, shrines and festivals.

Another addition includes Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (QB), a 26-year-old contemporary Pakistani pop music singer.

Other communities from across Vancouver are also taking part in the festival, most notably at TransFusion, Thursday night’s kickoff event that will see Native, Jewish and Bhangra performers alike take the SFU Woodwards stage.

“Our intention for starting this event was that we didn’t see a lot of events within the Punjabi community which did a good job of being accessible or building bridges,” said Dhaliwal, adding that although multicultural events existed at the time, each event was of a single culture, rather than a collaboration. “(We wanted) to wander into spaces where not only our community but other communities haven’t really gone into.”

“This isn’t about who we are and where we come from, it’s about learning and sharing and creating new things … that’s what creates understanding, that’s what creates community we have people that see themselves as part of the greater whole rather than see themselves as one small sort of component.”

Fore more information visit vibc.org.

Related:

CITY OF BHANGRA EVENTS SCHEDULE

May 29: TRANSFUSION + OPENING RECEPTION, SFU Woodwards, 149 W Hastings St., 6:30 p.m.
Led by MC and beatboxer Rup Sidhu and choreographed by Hardeep Sahota, with performances by Native Thunder Productions, JCC Shalom Dancers, Now or Never Crew, Leela Dance, and the Royal Academy of Bhangra, all accompanied by Karnveer Bhuller on Dhol.

May 30: MEDIA ARTS MEHFIL + COMMUNITY RECEPTION, New Surrey City Hall, 13450 104 Ave., 7 to 11 p.m.
Naad Foundation and VIBC join forces to create an evening of global fusion featuring Saanjh, a group of Vancouver musicians from around the world creating a unique and mesmerizing mosaic of North Indian classical, progressive rock , jazz, funk, Punjabi folk and Caribbean groove.

May 31: EKTA, FEATURING SAIEEN ZAHOOR, Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St, 8 to 10:30 p.m.
Sufi musician from Pakistan, Saieen Zahoor, takes the stage with his famed ektara in VIBC’s first concert hosted in solidarity with Punjabi communities from India and Pakistan.

June 1: BHANGRA VILLAGE, SFU Surrey Campus, 1:30 p.m.
A space for local and international artists, performers, community members, and bhangra enthusiasts to connect and share ideas.

June 3: BHANGRA ON MAIN FEATURING QURAT-UL-AIN BALOUCH, Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main Street, 8 p.m.
VIBC and Music on Main team up for an evening with female Pakistani artist Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (aka “QB”) live in session.

June 5: BHANGRA VILLAGE + PERFORMERS’ RECEPTION, SFU Woodwards, 149 W Hastings St., 5:30 p.m.
A space for local and international artists, performers, community members, and bhangra enthusiasts to connect and share ideas.

June 6: DOWNTOWN BHANGRA, Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza, 750 Hornby St., 5 to 10 p.m.
Hundreds of local and international dancers, dozens of musicians, and thousands of attendees gather at the VAG plaza outdoors. Headliners include naQsh, Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (QB), and Balkan Bhangra

June 7: DOWNTOWN BHANGRA, Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza, 750 Hornby St., 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Hundreds of local and international dancers, dozens of musicians, and thousands of attendees gather at the VAG plaza outdoors. Headliners include Jay Status and DJ Sanj

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