Bhangra Nation review – #Punjabi dance powers a joyful high school musical 

A team of bhangra dancers bound onto the stage in traditional sequined dress and fanned turbans. “Wassup?” says one. “Ready to bhangra?” This is Punjabi dance spliced with American high school musical. Bhangra is a competitive sport here, and there are face-offs in the bleachers, while dancers’ khundas (bamboo sticks) resemble cheerleading batons.

Directed by Stafford Arima and developed since its 2022 premiere in San Diego, the story pivots around a Michigan high-school bhangra competition. Teammates Preeti (Zaynah Ahmed) and Mary (Jena Pandya) fall out over what the dance means to them. Preeti is a purist who wants to keep the routine strictly bhangra; Mary is mixed heritage and seeks to, well, mix things up.

Rival dance troupes are formed out of their fracture and we follow Mary into a journey for self-definition as the musical explores the complexity of hyphenated identities and what it means to be a South Indian American.

Source: Bhangra Nation review – Punjabi dance powers a joyful high school musical | Theatre | The Guardian

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