British Columbia·Our Vancouver

Bhangra classes offered for high school credit in B.C.

At no cost, B.C. high school students can learn to play the dhol and be taught the vibrant dance of bhangra — and earn credit towards their graduation.

B.C. high school students can earn credits by taking a course in the Indian dance of bhangra

Offered by the South Asian Arts Academy 4:45

B.C. high school students can trade in their gym classes for instruction in bhangra, a traditional dance that originated in the Punjab region of India.

The B.C. Ministry of Education now allows students to take bhangra classes for credit at the South Asian Arts Academy in Surrey. 

"Students love it. A lot of kids have danced and played music throughout their lives, but now they can actually get credits for it — towards their graduation," said Gurpreet Sian, an instructor at the academy.

It took Sian and fellow instructor Rayman Bhullar over five years to work out the details with the Ministry of Education and get the program running.

At no cost, students can learn how to play the dhol drum and get lessons in the vibrant dance of bhangra.

Students register through the Ministry-approved  iLearn DL, and once signed up, attend practices at the South Asian Arts Academy.

Tests and assignments

The only catch, they say, is that students must complete a couple of assignments and tests before a letter grade and credits are assigned.

Bhangra has its roots in the Punjab region of India where it was originally performed as a way to celebrate the harvest season.

Since then, the lively dance driven by the beat of the dhol has made it's away across the globe.

In Vancouver, festivals like the 'City of Bhangra' attract thousands of people yearly to celebrate and bridge cultures through music and dance. 

"I like to compare bhangra to hip hop," Sian said. "It's this big underground subculture with competitions that happen all across North America, teams all over the place. Vancouver is sort of a hub you could say for bhangra dance, bhangra music," .

In the video above, Our Vancouver host Gloria Macarenko learns more about the dance and gets schooled in bhangra.


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