Nova Scotia

Bhangra film documentary reveals what makes the popular dance group tick

A documentary about a group of Bhangra dancers in Nova Scotia and its evolution into a vehicle for "joyful activism" was released Friday.

'They are very joyful and dedicated and committed to change,' says documentary maker

Filmmaker Nance Ackerman (left) and Hasmeet Singh of the Maritime Bhangra Group talk about the documentary Ackerman produced about the popular dancers. (CBC)

A documentary about a group of Bhangra dancers in Nova Scotia and its evolution into a vehicle for "joyful activism" was released Friday.

Filmmaker Nance Ackerman said she was intrigued by the popularity of the Maritime Bhangra Group, whose video of them dancing on the rocks at Peggys Cove, N.S., went viral in 2016.

During the making of the documentary, she said she discovered what makes the dancers so appealing, and why they use their performances to raise awareness about issues such as climate change and diseases including ALS and breast cancer.

The term she used was "joyful activism."

"They are doing it with hope and with laughter.... They are very joyful and dedicated and committed to change," Ackerman told CBC News.

In the cut-throat world of social media, where nastiness is frequently used to draw attention, the Maritime Bhangra Group provides something different and refreshing, the documentary maker said.

A documentary about the Maritime Bhangra Group and the dancers' infectious appeal was released Friday. (Maritime Bhangra Group)

"They are just wonderful people who truly care. I think these guys truly have it in their heart," said Ackerman.

Hasmeet Singh, who founded the group with his brother, Kunwardeep Singh, said the documentary is the story of five immigrants and their quest to give back to their community.

"We're not in a position to tell anyone what to do," he said of their support for good causes, adding they are open to suggestions for ways to help out.

Watching the documentary brought mixed emotions, Hasmeet Singh said.

"Much laughter. We cried. We focused on all the mistakes we made in English grammar. We laughed at each other," he said.

He reminisced about how the group was first seen as "a bunch of people dancing on the street," before attracting media attention with their energetic performances and eventual participation in Canada 150 celebrations.

With files from CBC News

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