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Sabinder Kaur (Sabina): Captain of the Number One Bhangra Team in the Nation

What is your full name?
Sabinder Kaur (Sabina)

What year are you?

What is your position on the Bhangra team?

Please explain what Bhangra is:
Bhangra is a highly energetic dance that is performed at festivals and great events.

How do you properly pronounce Bhangra?

Where did Bhangra originate and briefly explain its history:
Bhangra is a form of dance that originated from the northern state of India called Punjab. It is a folk dance  that is done during harvest season and many festivals throughout the year. Bhangra is performed with many different props such as a Saap, Khunda, and Kato and Dhol. Dhol is a very important part of Bhangra because the dance steps are made to the different beats of Dhol.

How did you end up apart of the Bhangra team and how long have you been performing?
I love to dance  and perform on stage and share my talent with everyone. I joined the team in 2009 and have been on it since. I’ve performed and placed at 12 competitions since I’ve joined the team.

List some of your responsibilities as a captain of the Bhangra Team:
Find Practice space, find music and come up with choreography, registration for competition, organize trips and manage funding, run practices, and teach people dance. Everday I learn to be a better leader.

Who originally started the team and when did it start?
Nikhil Desai in 2004

Explain the most memorable performance that you have been apart of:
Elite 8 Invitational 2010 – it was a tough competition and I feel like my performance was well executed in that particular set. Winning that competition was the best feeling. It truly made us feel elite.

How is VCU Bhangra different from other dance teams? 
VCU Bhangra is different because we have been around for about 8 years and every year we just get better and stronger. We’re the number one team in the nation according to the number of competitions we’ve been to and the placings we’ve earned. VCU Bhangra is a family and we all stick together no matter what happens; yes there are conflicts, but in the end we become closer. Seeing eachother everyday for 2-4 hours is another thing that helps us as dancers and individuals. We perfect our routines everyday and as individuals, we learn to consider our teammates as apart of our life.

Has there ever been diversity on the Bhangra Team?
Yes, in the past there have been people from different races that loved to do bhangra.

In the overall history of your team, what would you consider the team’s most successful performance?
Every year the team changes with new members and captains, so it’s hard to choose which performance is the best one. But I would say the Elite 8 Invitational 2010 competition because watching that still gives me chills at the end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUZ9SkEPCTg

How many hours a week do members practice?
Around 8-10 hours a week. During competition week they practice more.

Who is the choreographers of the performances?
The captains decide choreography and we all improvise as a team to make sure it looks good and everyone can do the moves properly.

Who puts together the music for the performances?

For the past years it has been Iqwak Burji from Klasikhs, but this year its some one new named DJ Rishu.

Describe your costumes? What are they called and briefly explain the history behindthem:
They are not costumes they are outfits. We call them Vardiyan (meanting outfits), and they are traditional clothing of Punjab.  Our head has to be covered while dancing to show respect for the dance and props. The males wear Pagg (turban) and females wear Chunni (scarf).

What type of props do you use for your performances and what cultural significance do they have?
Saap, Khunda (long canes), and Kato (something used to scare away crows).
What is VCU Bhangra ranked in America?
Number one in the nation!

What Bhangra Team do you compete the most with?

It depends on the competition and which teams are competing. We don’t really compete with one team specifically.
Recently you won 1st place in the California DDA competition. What does DDA stand for and how would you explain the competition for you and your members (ex: how you got there, the experience and how many teams competed):
DDA stands for Dhol Di Awaz and it was a folk competition. Dance teams are judged on their dancing ability and not the gimmicks. We flew to California and the first priority was making sure the entire team was in one place together. It was exciting because for most of us it out fist time in CA. The organizers took very good care of us. They drove us to where we wanted to go and picked us up when we were ready to leave. They loved having us there and surprisingly we met many people that loves VCU Bhangra and we felt like celebrities. It was an amazing feeling! We did not know we were going to place at all in this competition because the other teams we competed with were very folk and traditional teams. I was surprised when we won because we didn’t go to win we went to introduce CA to VCU bhangra and show what we do on the east coast. In the end I guess they like what did! DDA was a great experience and it truly connected us to our roots in Punjab because there are so many Punjabi people in CA that it seemed like we were in Punjab, India.

Outside of Bhangra practice, what do you and your team do for fun?
We have Pasta Parties before every competition we go to. We hang out at each others apartments, grab lunch together or late night meals after practice.

Do you have any advice for people who are interested in Bhangra but have never tried it before?
I say watch YouTube videos and learn some steps so you can try-out for VCU Bhangra next semester.

For those who are interested, how would one join the team?
Try-outs are once a year during fall semester. It is a 2 days process. During day 1, you are given a song and we see what you can come up with and how well u perform to it. On day 2, we teach you a segment and you have to perform it back to us. Day 2 is critical because it shows your ability to learn to pick up moves and remember them.

Interested in joining VCU Bhangra? Contact the new captians next year or you can email  [email protected] for more information.

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