Indian culture has thrived throughout London and the Greater London area since huge waves of Indian and Punjabi people started migrating to England in the middle of the 20th century. Dance is one aspect of their culture that can be experienced around the city through festivals, shows and now, classes (at left, Krupa Chavda leads a class at the Dance Attic).
These activities are available for any London residents or visitors to enjoy.
Like most countries, the different regions of India have different cultures, resulting in numerous styles of dance. Bollywood dancing combines Bhangra, a folk style of Indian dance with other styles from around India. Bhangra originally was used in the 14th century as a celebration of good harvest in the Punjab region, an area spanning northwestern India and eastern Pakistan.
“From the origins in the farms, the dance has become a popular, regular kind of routine at any form of celebration,” says Mahi Gill, a student at Imperial College and co-president and school’s Punjabi Society. “The dance is in essence a form of expressing celebration and bringing a community together.”
Every aspect of Bhangra dance displays an important cultural value. The costumes represent unity and color, both important in historical and modern times to the Punjabi celebration. The songs express feelings of Punjabi pride and history of the region.
- Text and image by Christie Francis.