On Tuesday, music and dance took over the University Center Storm Surge room as the University of Miami’s Bhangra dance team held an introductory workshop to teach students the classic steps of Bhangra. The event aimed to help dancers master the moves before team auditions on Wednesday.
As new members join, the team is beginning to prepare for this year’s competitions. During the fall semester, the dancers will attend the India Festival on Nov. 7 in Tampa and the Diwali Festival of Lights on Nov. 21 in Fort Lauderdale.
The distinct style of dance coined “Bhangra” hails from Punjab in the northern region of India. It was originally developed to celebrate the harvest, but has since migrated to the United States and now incorporates other dance elements, such as hip-hop and contemporary styles.
Hurricane Bhangra started as a dance team in 2003 and has since become a club sport. The team holds performances on campus, most notably during Orientation, and at community events in an effort to share Indian culture and dance with the UM community and surrounding areas.
“I wanted a taste of Indian culture and to get some exercise,” freshman Manvi Seth said. “It was exciting to see everybody so pumped up and enjoying what they do.”
While precise steps and a connection between members is important in the dance, Bhangra is ultimately about entertainment. It takes more than just mastering the moves – a Hurricane Bhangra dancer must also captivate the audience at all times. But according to current members, all the steps to a successful dancer can be learned without prior experience.
“You don’t need to have experience to try out,” said Viggy Kumaresan, the team captain. The main things that the team members look for during tryouts are students with high energy, a commitment to learning the dance moves and a consciousness of keeping the audience entertained.
Once on the team, dance members are invited to attend a number of events throughout the school year, which include competitions, weddings and Indian ceremonies.
Last year, the team traveled to notable cities like Washington, D.C. and New York. In competition, they placed first at the India Festival and second at Vaisakhi.
In preparation for competitions, practices are typically six hours or two three-hour practices a week. These practices are meant to help new dancers understand the props, etiquette and music that goes along with Bhangra.
To see Hurricane Bhangra in action, attend the Focus on India panel at the School of Business’s Storer Auditorium at 5 p.m. Tuesday.