Creative Kirklees

Creative Kirklees / News / Mon 19 Mar 2018

Huddersfield to Oz – how Bhangra is set for the world stage

Huddersfield to Oz – how Bhangra is set for the world stage

Huddersfield’s very own Bhangra expert, full-time teacher of art and research fellow at the University of Huddersfield, Hardeep Sahota, is taking his passion for the culture to the other side of the world, to spread its heritage and encourage people to take part in his innovative participatory performance ‘World Bhangra Day’ on 13 April.

Having published his highly acclaimed book, Bhangra: Mystics, Music and Migration over three years ago on how Huddersfield has playing a pivotal role in Bhangra’s heritage, Hardeep is becoming a leading expert on Bhangra and is fast becoming internationally renowned.

Hardeep says, “There are two main aspects to what I do. To research the heritage and authenticity of Bhangra before it gets lost over time, but also to find new ways of expressing it and disseminating it to other cultures that may not have experienced it before.”

After visiting India last year to begin to build a ‘repertoire’ of movements within Bhangra, Hardeep is jetting to Japan this Spring to provide lectures and workshops and share his findings with support from the Arts Council. He will be working with community groups who are interested in dance as well as students from the University of Tokyo. He will then head to Australia where he will undertake more Bhangra workshops, as well as perform in a large-scale production at the Commonwealth Games in April on the Gold Coast.

Hardeep explains, “I’m especially excited to be performing at ‘Festival 2018’, which is part of the Commonwealth games as well as co-ordinating ‘World Bhangra Day’, which will see dancers across the globe performing Bhangra at the same time in unison at exactly 2pm on the 13th April, this date also coincides with the Indian harvest festival of Vaisakhi”.

There will also be an event at the University of Huddersfield for students and the local community to get involved with the celebrations taking place at the Oastler Building. There will also be a live drumming collaboration piece between local Samba and Dhol drummers. (see link below for more details)

Hardeep is also the founder of the World Bhangra Council, which over the last few years has flourished with over 125 cultural ambassadors - like-minded individuals from across over 25 countries that have a passion for Bhangra.

Hardeep has spent the last 20 years of his life celebrating, researching, and preserving the art form of Bhangra. Closer to home, through his community organisation VIRSA (which means heritage in Panjabi), Hardeep has been working with schools across Kirklees teaching young people about the heritage of Bhangra. His workshops are designed for all abilities,

“The workshops I do with schools are designed to be good fun as the dancing is very energetic, but they also help the pupils to understand other communities and their heritage. Students love them and it’s rewarding to see their enthusiasm when learning new skills.

Next for Hardeep is to create a visual dictionary of Bhangra and he is currently in the process of writing the bid to secure funding. He explains, “Bhangra is often not given the credit it deserves in the South Asian community, it can be looked down upon it as it’s a folk dance and because its repertoire is not formalised. I intend to change that by creating a visual dictionary of Bhangra, expressed through the medium of light-painting.”

With a busy year ahead, from international performances to Bhangra workshops and lectures, as well as juggling a full-time teaching job, it makes you wonder how Hardeep manages to fit it all in!

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Dance, Music