Bhangre De Sitare

BDS Logo

Bhangre De Sitare (BDS), which literally means “Stars of Bhangra”, was formed back in the early 1990s by a group of 8 friends who shared the same passion and love in traditional Punjabi dance (Bhangra).

By 1995, the group had grown and formally came under the supervision of Ranjit Singh who took over the management in 1995. Since then, the group has been on a wonderful journey to being one of the most sought-after Bhangra groups in Singapore and is dedicated to performing for cultural and charity events, including high profile events such as the Chingay Procession, National Day Parade, President’s Star Charity, UTSAV and other various national-level events both locally and abroad. BDS is also an active cultural troupe with Kolam Ayer Community Club since 1998.

BDS’ current team of 10 members regularly performs modern Bhangra (east-meets-west) with traditional Malay and Chinese dancers presenting a colourful and vibrant dance performance that showcases the best of Singapore’s diverse multi-cultural society. Among their many accomplishments, BDS has been featured in a publication by the National Arts Council and were even mentioned by Channel News Asia for their invitation to perform at the Istana for the Hari Raya Puasa celebrations in 2017!

If you’d like a taste of what BDS can do to liven up parties, check out their outstanding performance in this video!

Being one of the oldest Bhangra groups in Singapore, BDS has been actively nurturing generations of performers who contribute to keeping the culture and tradition alive whilst showcasing Bhangra to other communities within Singapore and the region.

To find out more about BDS, reach out to Ranjit Singh by emailing Stars.of.Bhangra@gmail.com.

The Poetry House, Vol 1: Prison of Youth

Our teenage years are often filled with newfound emotions that send us on a rollercoaster without warning. Trying to make sense of the changes that we undergo is a struggle even for the best of us. Some of us keep these upheavals to ourselves, but young Charanpal dared to share his thoughts and experiences in the beautiful form of poetry with his recently released, Prison of Youth, compilation of poems. We leapt at the chance to ask him a few questions about his experience and passion for the arts!

Front cover Back cover

Having been introduced to poetry formally in secondary school, Charanpal was attracted to the themes, emotions and imagery that poems offered. He started writing his own, drawing inspiration from anything that caught his eye and then reflecting deeply about the circumstances around him.

Charanpal’s favourite poem, O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman and his favorite poet Philip Larkin, betray his youthful looks and expose his thoughts that wondered to the poets of past ages when penning one’s’ thoughts was more deliberate than the 140 characters we have grown accustomed to today.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                        But O heart! heart! heart!
                           O the bleeding drops of red,
                              Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                 Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

He shared his work with family members and friends through group chats and after some time, with help and encouragement from his brother-in-law, put together his art into the Prison of Youth under the brand, The Poetry House, another one of Charanpal’s creation. His goal for The Poetry House is no small one. The aspiration is for it to be a global brand boasting world-class poems, and a cafe for anyone to read poetry books while enjoying a meal, or even settling in to a cosy theatre for movie screenings.

The Poetry House logo

The Prison of Youth features 53 poems grouped into 5 themes, Life, Illusion, Death, Relationships, and Love. Many of the poems made references to local idiosyncrasies that many Singaporeans can relate to with some giving us an insight into the characters that Charanpal interacts with in his daily life.

A number of the poems dealt with the frustrations we feel when our choices are criticised. Others deal with serious issues such as suicide and depression. Charanpal believes that many youths face such circumstances often and are labelled negatively or seen as rebels. He shares that adults criticise rather than empathise and try to destroy the illusion or illusive hope youth develop when trying to make sense of the world around them. Poetry helps Charanpal express these frustrations, along with difficult situations.

Girl Under The Blanket, in particular, is a heart rending poem on suicide that Charanpal penned to share his sorrow at the loss of a friend. A 15 year old girl whose passing affected Charanpal and would continue to do so for a long time.

When asked what would be his advice to budding poets or writers, Charanpal recommends to simply pen down how you feel in a few short lines. It gives you an outlet to express your emotions and deal with any overwhelming situation. He further adds that we should not look down on our efforts or be afraid of the outcome. Every piece of work is a success in one way or another.

Having sold over 120 copies within a month after publication, Prison of Youth has been an amazing experience for Charanpal’s first foray into the formal poetry world. Not afraid to step up and show his work, Charanpal has been courageous in setting up booths at local community events to spread word of his aspirations and engage youth to explore art in their own way.


Charanpal (rightmost) promoting Prison of Youth at Khalsa Week 2018.

With Volume 1 out of the way, Charanpal has plans for another 2 volumes in the next couple of years. We look forward to seeing more of his work and hope everyone will support our young Charanpal in his exploration of art!

To order the book, visit https://www.facebook.com/thepoetryhouseofficial/ or follow Charanpal and The Poetry House on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thepoetryhouse/.

 

SherePunjab Bhangra

SherePunjab Bhangra (SPB) was formed when a group of friends were spotted performing for a Diwali event in late 2001. The venue’s in-house F&B Manager at that time was attracted by the vibrant energy of the dancers, and decided that they were a must have at future functions. They were approached and, despite initial reservations of being hired as professionals, became a regular feature in the local bhangra scene in 2002. The rest, as they say, is history.

From those simple beginnings, SPB were engaged to perform at family functions like weddings, parties, as well as a couple of dinner and dance functions. Yet, fundamentally they were just a group of 5-6 youth with limited experience in the Bhangra realm, with little local resources to expand their knowledge. To overcome this, bhangra competition DVDs were ordered and shipped from the USA with members researching moves and studying the art of a successful performance. With the onset of YouTube, their bhangra journey took an exponential growth.

In a very short time, they were in touch with some of the best in Bhangra and able to actively research them while developing an SPB style of their own. Adding to that, SPB boasts being the first local bhangra group to have fielded females when the bhangra circuit in Singapore was still generally all-male, and bringing in people actively from all races. In the last 15+ years, SPB has formed a variety of diverse teams with a current alumni base of over 50, and a further current 19 active members.

In true SPB spirit, the focus of the team’s performances is centred on the traditional art form of the dance with splashes of modern elements, and fun moves to keep the audience enthralled!

SPB has also become a regular feature at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatres for almost any event where Bhangra is needed, including Christmas celebrations, dance festivals and Holi. They have also performed at various community events including Chingay, and have had the pleasure of performing for the President at the Istana on 2 separate occasions!

Facebook post by then President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, praising SherePunjab Bhangra!

While they constantly push themselves to achieve the pinnacle of Bhangra excellence in Singapore, SPB has also provided opportunities for beginners to learn the ropes. The group has been holding free weekly open sessions that welcome anyone, of any age. The open sessions enables SPB to share their passion while continuing to grow the next generation of Bhangra dancers for the team.

While many in the bhangra scene know of SPB’s success, SPB’s work has not gone unnoticed by the mainstream media. Both the Berita Harian and Today newspapers have featured SPB’s energetic and enthusiastic bhangra instructors and the phenomenon of Bhangra aerobics!

SPB coverage by TODAY newspaper.

SPB coverage by Berita Harian.

To find out more about the open sessions or to contact SPB, check out their contact details below.

Email: sherepunjab.sg@gmail.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SPBsingapore/
Instagram: @sherepunjabbhangra

 

Photos taken from SPB’s facebook page.

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