Section
Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

A combination of history, geography, and people have influenced Vancouver’s unique Bhangra scene, and more recent expressions often combine different genres of dance and music. Bhangra has changed, grown, and retracted in exciting ways, allowing it to exist as a living tradition. In Vancouver, Bhangra dance can include Hip Hop, Jazz, Bollywood, and traditional folk moves. Bhangra music brings together a world of musical styles and genres reflecting the diversity of our city. The lyrics have changed too: they have shifted from a focus on farming and village life to incorporate life in contemporary cities around the world.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

The first decade of Bhangra in Vancouver is marked by building new artistic foundations and breaking social barriers. Bhangra emerges as an active tool that fosters cultural understanding. It rises in popularity when universities and colleges in Punjab start competing against one another and perform at annual celebrations. When these students immigrate to Vancouver, they bring their love of Bhangra with them. Helped along by Canada’s new multiculturalism policy, these new immigrants cultivate an environment that supports the growth of Bhangra as an art form and a bridge between communities.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Bhangra costumes are clothes of the everyday. Sometimes these outfits are heavily embroidered for competitions or stage shows, but Bhangra is more commonly danced in everything from a salwaar kameez (a long shirt with drawstring pants) or a t-shirt and jeans.

Many of the costumes displayed belong to some of the landmark Bhangra teams in Vancouver. They number among the oldest Canadian Bhangra artefacts.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

What we call Bhangra dance today is really a collection of different folk dances that originated in the Punjab region of Pakistan and India. These dances have developed and changed over time. The evolution of Bhangra music flowed in a similar way. Today, worldwide musicians, DJs, and singers embrace the global genre of Bhangra which incorporates many different musical styles and influences, varying from traditional beats and lyrics to Electronica, Bollywood, Hip-Hop, and R&B sounds.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Women did not traditionally dance Bhangra. For centuries they have performed Giddha, a lyrical folk dance that involves dancing to poetic couplets and often performed in the exclusive company of women. Here in Vancouver, women have danced Bhangra since the very first Bhangra teams emerged in the early 1970s. While pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable, these performers created a space for themselves in the public sphere, and in the process, redefined Bhangra in Vancouver and across North America.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Media representation has been instrumental in forming our understanding of Bhangra in mainstream and South Asian societies. Mainstream media portrayals have, until recently, spoken at a very basic level about Bhangra. On the other hand, South Asian television shows and newspapers have connected viewers in Vancouver to changing Bhangra trends and sounds in the UK, India, and beyond while providing a platform for local artists to showcase their talents.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Local artists in the 1970s and ‘80s laid the foundation for Vancouver’s sound, incorporating local themes and experiences. However, many of these artists had to perform and settle in other countries to raise their profile, due to Vancouver’s small market and musical infrastructure. The 1990s saw the continued growth of a new generation of singers and the prominent rise of DJ culture. These DJs mined North America’s cultural and musical styles and hybridized Hip Hop, Bollywood, Bhangra, Jazz, Rock, and Electronica from all over the world.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

The design of Bhangra album covers tells a unique visual history of evolving themes within Bhangra music. This collection includes popular albums from India, Pakistan, the UK, the United States, and Canada. Their design speaks to converging and conflicting ways of seeing the Punjabi Diaspora and South Asians in general. Images of the harvest and village fairs are meant to evoke a sense of home and nostalgia. Rock and Hip Hop-inspired album covers speak to a different audience of second and third-generation South Asians who may have stronger affinities with Western mainstream culture.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Bring out your inner Bhangra star! Ever wanted to jump on stage and jam with Dil Vog or Delhi 2 Dublin but don’t know how to play an instrument? No problem. Our Bhangra Lab will teach you how to play the instrument of your choice and to jam along with your friends on a Bhangra track. Featuring some of Vancouver’s most talented musicians on the Dhol, Tumbi, Dhad, and Chimta, the Bhangra Lab is a space to test out the instruments, learn how the professionals play, and improvise new rhythms.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

The current phase is defined by the rise of local bands receiving international recognition for their talent. Aided by the increasing profile of Vancouver as a centre for Bhangra and the emergence of new digital technologies, these bands can share their sound and gain popularity without leaving the city. Today, Vancouver is home to Bhangra bands that cover the spectrum from global electronica to traditional Indian sounds. This intersection of sounds and ideas creates something new. It’s a worldwide thing.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Something is missing isn’t it? Despite our best efforts and hours of preparation, we accounted for the fact that we may have managed to overlook a vital story: yours. Bhangra is vibrant, never static. Likewise this was the space that breathed and changed during the life of this exhibition. We added the Bhangra- related stories of visitors over the duration of the show, asking visitors to bring us pictures, posters, or images to add into our rotating Flickr feed.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

In thinking about this project, we wanted to give a voice to a silenced part of Vancouver’s history. Vancouver’s Bhangra mementos have always existed, but its artefacts and stories have not been widely accessible. This room helped tell the story of our research journey: being welcomed into people’s houses, looking through their photo albums and home videos, hearing their stories, and situating these private memories in a public space.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Our year-long research project delved deep into 40 years of Bhangra experiences in Vancouver. Our motivation for examining Bhangra historically was fuelled by the art form’s capacity to provide a unique perspective on multiculturalism, diasporas, politics, gender, and art. The history and development of Bhangra is a contentious subject. In the Bhangra.me exhibition it was neither our place nor our desire to provide an absolute truth about the practice of Bhangra in Vancouver. By including many different voices and points of view, our goal has been to create a vibrant space for reflection, dialogue, and . . . dancing!

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Bring out your inner Bhangra star! If you ever wanted to jump on stage and jam with Dil Vog or Delhi 2 Dublin but don’t know how to play an instrument, it would be no problem after a visit here. Our Bhangra Lab taught visitors how to play the instrument of their choice and to jam along with their friends on a Bhangra track. Featuring some of Vancouver’s most talented musicians on the Dhol, Tumbi, Dhad, and Chimta, the Bhangra Lab was a space to test out the instruments, learn how the professionals play, and improvise new rhythms.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

“World Music” is a catch-all category for songs that sound “exotic” or “foreign”. Inspired by the global reality of Bhangra, this section examined how this music simultaneously exists in various parts of the world and goes beyond the language of World Music. Vancouver’s Bhangra has gone through different stages, nurturing local talent while absorbing influences from across the South Asian diaspora. Today, Vancouver is home to Bhangra bands that cover the spectrum from global electronica to traditional Indian sounds. This intersection of sounds and ideas creates something new. It’s a worldwide thing.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

What is traditional Bhangra? What is modern Bhangra? Who gets to decide? About Tradition vs. Modernity, we believe it’s a false choice. It is not that all traditional forms of Bhangra are bad and all modern forms of Bhangra are good or vice versa. Our focus is on the rich diversity of Bhangra practiced in our city. Here you will see images that might make you say “Yes, that’s Bhangra” or you might think “how did this get in here?” Let’s have these challenging discussions.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Musical migrations travel freely across borders. One might assume that the link between Bhangra and Vancouver is a one-way connection between India and Canada. We view it as a continuous flow of inspiration and dialogue between multiple countries, some of which are India, Pakistan, the UK, the United States, and the Caribbean. Vancouver draws upon these global currents and movements to create local sounds resonating with the city and its culture and contributes these rhythms back to the global beat.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

“Chak De Phattey!” is a familiar expression that literally means “lift the boards!” and is yelled out when engrossed in the joy of Bhangra. While the origins of this phrase are unknown, some believe it derives from the actions of Punjabi lumber workers in British Columbia as they took freshly cut pieces of wood off of sawmill conveyor belts. This performance art is interwoven with anti-racist movements, gender rights activism, and the pursuit of self-representation. Bhangra becomes a vehicle to view the history of the South Asian diasporas, as well as explore how ideas about Canadian identity are continuously re-imagined.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

Bhangra has changed, grown, and retracted in exciting ways, allowing it to exist as a living tradition. In Vancouver, Bhangra dance can include Hip Hop, Jazz, Bollywood, and traditional folk moves. Bhangra music brings together a world of musical styles and genres reflecting the diversity of our city. The lyrics have changed too: they have shifted from a focus on farming and village life to incorporate life in contemporary cities around the world. However, the heart of Vancouver’s Bhangra has remained the same: rhythm, dhol, and the joy of dancing.

Slideshow (Posted: 03/01/12)

Bhangra.me Exhibition

When Bhangra teams started in the early 1970s, they performed in an atmosphere steeped with racism. While South Asian immigrants had made great political and social advances, many of them still faced overt and subtle forms of discrimination. Bhangra was one of the tools for community bridge-building. Teams travelled throughout Canada, spreading awareness of Punjabi culture, and making connections between Vancouver’s different cultural groups. The celebration of Bhangra fostered opportunities for understanding that went beyond the political rhetoric of Canadian multiculturalism and moved towards deeper cultural understanding and dialogue.

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