One thing sets the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts apart from most other cultural celebrations in Vancouver. And that is the free dance lessons (though Monsoon also accepts admission by donation).
This year, two highly regarded dance artists in the local Sikh community will offer instruction at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus in Surrey on Sunday (August 20). Billed as “Sunday Funday”, it begins at 10 a.m. with a workshop headed by Bhangra dancer Raja Singh.
Also known as Bhangre Da Raja, he will demonstrate world-class Punjabi folk-dancing moves at the KPU Surrey Conference Centre (Cedar Building, Room 1205) at 12666 72 Avenue in Surrey. (Register here.)
Bhangre Da Raja urges attendees to watch two videos before showing up. The first video below features him performing to Satinder Sartaaj’s melodic “Gurmukhi Da Beta”.
The second video shows Bhangre Da Raja’s energetic movements in response to Gurdas Mann and Diljit Dosanjh’s “Ki Banu Duniya Da”.
Both videos were recorded at the height of the pandemic in 2020 when people desperately needed something to cheer them up. In addition to Bhangra, he also teaches other forms of dance, such as Jhoomar, Luddi, Dhamaal, Chaal, Fumniya, and Sammiya.
Bhangre Da Raja immigrated to Canada in 2021 and now lives in Delta. This will be his second appearance at the Monsoon Festival, which nurtures South Asian arts and culture.
Krystal Kiran returns to Monsoon Festival
Meanwhile, from 11:30 to 1 p.m., choreographer and dancer Krystal Kiran will lead a workshop on semi-classical Kathak dance at the KPU Conference Centre. (Register here.) During the pandemic in 2021, the talented multidisciplinary artist taught a class over Zoom at the Monsoon Festival, before returning the following year.
More recently, Kiran choreographed the critically acclaimed Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical for Theatre Under the Stars. Raised in Penticton, her career as an actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer has taken her around the world. She sang as a soloist on Bollywood musical legend AR Rahman’s Jai Ho World Tour.
She also performed in stage productions of Lord of the Rings, Bombay Dreams, The Orchard (After Chekhov), West Side Story, and Of Marriage & Men. In addition, Kiran has appeared in TV and films, including Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.
Below, you can see Kiran perform “Thy Beauty’s Doom”, which she also directed. Kiran dedicated this to a talented Surrey artist and murder victim, Maple Batalia.
The South Asian Arts Society presents the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts at various locations until August 27. For more information, visit the festival website. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia and on Instagram @PancouverMedia.