Bhangra with a bang at Harrison Festival

By day Sandy Sekhon has a business co-op job, handling social media and marketing.

But in her off hours she dons a traditional jewel-toned outfit and dances in a style that recalls the harvest season in India.

She’s the president of UFV’s Bhangra club, which celebrates a style of dance many in the multicultural Fraser Valley will recognize—a traditional Punjabi folk dance marked by vibrant costumes, formations, and movements in unison—a bright and lively celebration of life and successful harvest.

“You’ll see some of the movement mimics watering plants or chopping crops,” Sekhon says with a smile.

This summer the team is heading to the Harrison Festival to showcase both the skill and culture behind the dance, joining forces with dancers from Abbotsford’s Bhangra Beat Academy to put on a bigger and better show. Between 20 and 30 dancers will be on stage at once.

“It’s really fun to do stuff like this, because we don’t get to do that in competition—competitions usually limit us to age or to the number of people that can go on stage at once,” Sekhon explains. “Events like this are where we get to be more creative and put more dancers on stage.”

The style focuses on joy and celebration—passion reflected in vivid costumes and sparkling accessories. The twirling, smiling dancers are a pleasure to watch, sliding effortlessly from one formation to the next.

The UFV team only recently started making an appearance in the competitive Bhangra world, with performances and exhibitions both locally and internationally. But Sekhon says, as always, it’s a delight to dance here at home.

“Local support is pretty much where it starts,” she says.

• The Bhangra dancers will perform as part of the Straight from the Valley Opening Concert on Friday, July 11, as well as again on Sunday on the Beach Stage at 3:40 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.harrisonfestival.com.

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