Yukon Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher delights Canada's capital
Pandher spreads 'joy, hope, and positivity', encourages vaccinations on his tour
He's brought light and a lift to a COVID-19 weary Canada with his viral dance videos, and this week Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher brought his ebullience to the country's capital.
Pandher, a dancer and teacher based in Dawson City, Yukon, has gained a massive social media following thanks to his YouTube videos and social media posts.
This week, he danced through Ottawa from Parliament Hill to the banks of the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, the Rideau Canoe Club and the Canadian Geographic Society.
Hello Ottawa! <br>I am here. Get up and move!<br>From the capital city of Canada, I am sending joy, hope, healing, and positivity across Canada and beyond.<br>YouTube: <a href="https://t.co/mhfWcXYDMH">https://t.co/mhfWcXYDMH</a> <a href="https://t.co/NjKIpUC9eR">pic.twitter.com/NjKIpUC9eR</a>—@GurdeepPandher
Pandher even headed outside the Greenbelt to dance with horses on a farm in Ashton, Ont., though only some of the herd seemed to pay attention.
OMG! This is the best of my Ottawa visit. I got the chance to dance with horses. With my sincere thanks to Tina Turner and Lia of 'The Courage Herd' in the village Ashton near Ottawa, I was able to play with their adorable horses. <br>YouTube: <a href="https://t.co/L7nHBvGek5">https://t.co/L7nHBvGek5</a> <a href="https://t.co/I58kBMxBsO">pic.twitter.com/I58kBMxBsO</a>—@GurdeepPandher
Pandher had better luck teaching Bhangra moves to staff at the children's hospital and the Ottawa Redblacks on the football field at Lansdowne Park.
"Some people are able to pick it up so quickly. For some people, it takes time," Pandher said in an interview with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
It was so wonderful to dance high-energy Bhangra with <a href="https://twitter.com/REDBLACKS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@REDBLACKS</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Ottawa67sHockey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Ottawa67sHockey</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/TD_Place?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TD_Place</a> with athletes and their CEO <a href="https://twitter.com/OSEGMarkGoudie?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OSEGMarkGoudie</a>. <a href="https://t.co/OQhMyzn0ZK">pic.twitter.com/OQhMyzn0ZK</a>—@GurdeepPandher
He says his goal is twofold: spread "joy, hope, and positivity" with his Punjabi dance moves, and encourage people to get vaccinated. The feedback he gets from fans fuels his dancing.
"It's not only digital messages. They write me so many handwritten beautiful letters all the way to my cabin in the Yukon. I've received sketches and drawings. Someone from Newfoundland and Labrador sent me a rug hooked by hand. People send … crochet work. It touched me a lot," he said.
Pandher learned Bhangra dancing by watching his parents and relatives dancing the folk dances of Punjab. As a teenager, he started taking lessons from a professional teacher.
Now, he uses the power of the Internet to teach others. His joyful dancing has also been an emotional antidote to the stresses of COVID-19.
"It's not just social media. People are reaching out personally and telling me this joy and hope and positivity that I'm spreading is helping them a lot," said Pandher, who immigrated to Canada in 2006.
From the pristine waters of the Ottawa River, I am dispatching joy, hope and positivity, and delivering the important message of 'get vaccinated' across Canada and beyond. <br>YouTube: <a href="https://t.co/0YloRN8mcf">https://t.co/0YloRN8mcf</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThisIsOurShot?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThisIsOurShot</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/thisisourshotca?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ThisIsOurShotCa</a> <a href="https://t.co/Q3Syll1gqe">pic.twitter.com/Q3Syll1gqe</a>—@GurdeepPandher
"When we are very thirsty and then drink, or when there is a long, dark night and we see the sunrise, we appreciate it. When there's been sadness, gloominess and stress going on and [then] there's something which is joyful and positive? I think people connect with that."
Montreal will be Pandher's next stop on this tour.
With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning