Shan-e-Punjab Dance school mixes cultures

Dance students are busy preparing for the annual Youth Showcase, in honour of the Sikh harvest festival.

(Front) Trista Dahmi

Sonia Grewal arrived in Canada as a baby in 1970, so her connection to her Indian roots came partly through rented Bollywood films.

“My mother, to keep me busy and out of trouble, she’d turn on the (VCR),” Grewal said. She fell in love with the genre, and danced along.

But as a Canadian girl, she also followed Western pop culture.

In elementary school, she started a dance group.

“It was just the four of us and we’d go around at recess doing these little dances to Shaun Cassidy’s music,” she said. “As much as I loved Bollywood, I think I just picked up beats. … At that age, any music that comes your way, you’re able to move with it.”

The foursome called their troupe Sha Na Na.

“How was I to know later on I’d have a (dance) school called Shan-e-Punjab?” she asked.

While her school’s name sounds like the nonsense syllables from her childhood dance group, the meaning is quite different.

Shan-e-Punjab means “to bring honour to the Punjabi culture,” she said.

These days, dance students are busy preparing for the annual Youth Showcase, in honour of the Sikh harvest festival. The school, started in 1996, teaches traditional dances from the Sikh region of Northern India, but also what’s popular today.

“If the popular thing right now is Bhangra, then that’s what we’ll mainly focus on,” Grewal said. That includes mixes with Top 40.

“One year we had Michael Jackson,” she said. “That piece was contributed to us by a girl who has been with us for over 16 years … and she’s a third- or fourth-generation Indo-Canadian. … You’ve got perspectives from everyone.”

Today, Grewal has lost her family connection to her homeland.

“There’s no elder aunts, anybody there.”

But keeping her culture alive through her dance school keeps her going.

“Everybody needs that feeling of engagement. Who am I, where do I come from?” she said. “For me, I think I’m a stronger person because of it. … For me, it’s like my oxygen.”

Mark your calendar:

The Shan-e-Punjab Dance, Performing Arts and Heritage School puts on its annual Youth Cultural Showcase on April 29. It takes place at 3 p.m. at the University of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium. Tickets $12 for adults and $7 for students. For more information, email Shan.e.Punjab1993@gmail.com.

 

 

Just Posted

Saanich council will consider tax reduction scenarios for 2020 budget

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau however warns of cutting additional funding for capital expenditures

CRD holding off repairing Sooke Potholes viewing area after winter landslide

Area likely to experience continued failure of slope, officials say

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Sixties Scoop settlement tour stops in Victoria

The information session takes place on July 24 at the Sandman Hotel

Nanaimo man wanted Canada-wide after walking away from Victoria halfway house

Warrant issued for Jesse Goodale, convicted of aggravated assault

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

BC Cancer Agency refuses to release audit’s critical findings, but discloses ‘positive’ findings

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions of cancer agency’s triage audit

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Countdown starts to 2020 BC Summer Games

Two flags unveiled at Maple Ridge city hall.

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in B.C.

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Most Read