Brittney Chew / Assistant Photography Editor

Members of Pao Bhangra, an Indian dance group, perform.

April 19, 2016

Pao Bhangra Celebrates College Dance Groups

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Cornell Bhangra, an Indian folk dance group, hosted its 15th annual Pao Bhangra show on Saturday. One of the biggest shows on campus, the event is listed on 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do.

Saturday’s show brought together Bhangra teams from Massachusetts, Ohio and New Jersey.  They were joined by some of Cornell’s performance groups including Sabor Latino Dance Ensemble, Break Free HipHop, Big Red Raas, Cornell Yamatai and Cornell Sitara to create a diversified three-hour spectacle.

For the event, performers dressed in a panoply of colors as they danced in coordination to artists including The Chainsmokers, Rihanna and Fetty Wap-infused East Asian music.

“When you watch Bhangra, it’s really dazzling and colorful,” Gabriela Vega ’19 said. “I think it has such positive energy which really captivates a lot of people.”

Fion Chu ’19 agreed, saying that she appreciated the range of dance groups involved.

“I thought the show was awesome,” Chu said. “I really liked the energy and that they incorporated a lot of diverse dance groups.”

The show regularly sells upwards of 2,700 tickets, according to Mahak Goel ’16, co-president of Cornell Bhangra.

“Cornell Bhangra is like a family,” she added.

The show also presented a performance by the Bhangra alumni, some of whom were on the team when it made it to the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent in 2014.

Going on the show was an great experience, according to Goel.

“It was a huge learning aspect to have to adapt what we learned on stage to the screen,” Goel said. “We had a lot of people of a lot of different ages working together, so it was a great bonding experience.”

Goel added that the collaborative nature of Bhangra is one of the things she loves about it.

“We’re just an exhibition not a competition, so what’s unique is that it’s all about Bhangra. It’s all about going out there and having fun with people who also enjoy it,” Goel said. “Bhangra literally means to be intoxicated with joy. For the members of the team, and hopefully for the audience, after they watch Bhangra or perform it, they feel happy and are able to let go of the stresses of daily life.”