VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Gurdeep Pandher is always ready for an adventure, making friends and dancing a bhangra number or two – especially on the steps of the B.C. Legislature Building.

The Yukon-based dancer moved to Canada from Punjab more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until recently that he became a household name with several of his bhangra dance videos going viral on social media.

Pandher’s journey to social media stardom started “organically” when he shared an online video of his Canada Day performance in Whitehorse. The video initially meant for friends and family was shared and watched by some 300,000 people overnight, said Pandher, who’s been doing bhangra since he was a child living in a village in Punjab.

Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, has gone viral with his high-energy Punjabi folk dance videos and uses his stardom to spread joy and build cross-cultural connections. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

On Aug. 7, Pandher announced on Twitter that he would be exploring Vancouver Island for 10 days and shared a video of him doing bhangra in front of the legislature building in downtown Victoria. After touring Greater Victoria, he planned to drive up to Tofino – making various stops along the way.

This wasn’t Pandher’s first time on Vancouver Island. In 2019, he filmed a bhangra dance video with the Canadian Armed Forces at the base in Esquimalt which caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Since then, Pandher has danced with bagpiper Jordan Lincez, Canadian Paralympian Stephanie Dixon and Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis – each video raking in millions of views.

“Wherever I go, I end up making new connections. This type of work unites people. It doesn’t matter which background or which part of the world you’re coming from – you have the same feelings inside.”

Despite being a social media sensation, Pandher doesn’t feel like a celebrity. He values the simpler things and feels “real richness is being happy and positive.”

After touring Vancouver Island, Pandher will head home to his cabin outside Whitehorse, Yukon where he teaches bhangra workout classes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he’s begun offering classes online. The first session had about 70 people from across Canada taking part and he was surprised by the response.

”People were so excited and cheerful,” said Pandher, who now teaches 24 online dance classes per month to some 2000 students across Canada and the U.S.A.

“It was so heartwarming.”

The class fee is by donation and 25 per cent of the proceeds go to charities focused on COVID-19 and mental health – which has played a big role in Pandher’s dance journey. His goal is to use bhangra to break down barriers and lift spirits. People of all ages are feeling alone right now and students have said that the dance classes are a way to relieve that pressure, express emotions and find community.

The connecting doesn’t stop when the class is over, Pandher said, adding that he’s received “powerful” messages – some of which brought him to tears– from people who’ve found joy through bhangra – from doctors working on COVID-19 floors to bedridden patients who grooved along to the music.

“I’ve started feeling that may be it’s my duty or responsibility to spread positivity, joy and hope – if we have hope, we have everything,” Pandher said.

Dancing helps him stay hopeful too.

“When I start dancing, I forget everything and instantly regain my joy.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

DanceTrending Nowvancouverisland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council approves of a five-story multi-family development at 300 Gorge Road West and 2900 Tillicum Road. (Rendering via Alan Lowe Architect Inc.)
Saanich approves five-story, mixed-use development for Tillicum area

Plans include 53 residential units, three commercial units at Tillicum Road, Gorge Road West

Coun. Niall Paltiel of Central Saanich has filed a notice of motion directing staff to work with the WSANEC leadership council to develop a program leading toward the “gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names for key collector and arterial roads”(Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich councillor wants road signs to use WSANEC names

Coun. Niall Paltiel proposes ‘gradual incorporation of traditional WSANEC names’ for key roads

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read