A Bhangra smile: great way to open a TOK class

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How could students NOT love this 2-minute dance video? And how could you, as a TOK teacher, NOT seize the chance to ask (just a little!) about the role of the arts in knowledge? The Maritime Bhangra Group of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada gives a joyful lift to questions about what is communicated in music and dance.

But how does a celebration dance for the harvest in the Punjab in India transform into a dance to lighten winter snow shoveling in the east of Canada? Group founder Hasmeet Singh, who is studying for a masters in computer sciences in Halifax, comments on his group’s goals, “We wanted to make people happy. We never thought it would be such a big hit.” A video the Maritime Bhangra Group uploaded to Facebook went viral last year as two of its members dance at Peggy’s Cove, a scenic spot familiar to Canadians.

The group also has other goals: they raise funds for community causes and draw attention to the beauty of their part of Canada. For TOK, another of their goals contributes to the wonderful classroom tinkle of shattering assumptions as the appearance of the dancers jars with what many students might expect of them. “Just because we look different, we have turbans and we have beards, we get stared at,” Singh says. “[By dancing] we want to tell people who we are and why we’re doing this.”

Their latest video, from February 2017,  gave me a moment of delight this morning.  Yes, I’ll donate to their fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. And I’m smiling as I pass this on to you!

PS You can also see them teaching their moves to four members of the Canadian Parliament, to demonstrate multiculturalism in action: “Bhangra group teaches Canadian Ministers how to dance”.


Jennifer MacMillan, “These bhangra dancers know how to deal with Canadian winters”, CBC. Dec 16, 2016.http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/maritime-bhangra-group-dance-snow-shovel-halifax-1.2947431

Arti Patel, “This Bhangra Routine at Peggy’s Cove is So Canadian”, Huffpost Living, September 28, 2016.http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/28/maritime-bhangra-peggys-cove_n_12232470.html

Sean Previl, “Maritime Bhangra Group teaches Canadian ministers how to dance”, Global News. January 27, 2017.http://globalnews.ca/news/3211014/maritime-bhangra-group-teaches-canadian-ministers-how-to-dance/