By: Asjad Nazir
Ultimate Bhangra recently beat off tough competition from acts representing different south Asian dance disciplines to win the Just Naach Wolverhampton contest.
The dynamic young group delivered a high energy Punjabi dance performance that dazzled audiences and judges.
The wonderful win adds to the achievements of Ultimate Bhangra founder
Parambir Samrai, who teaches Punjabi dance to all ages and keeps them
connected to Punjabi culture. Having been inspired by his father, he has gone from falling deeply in love with Punjabi music as a youngster to carving out a successful dance career as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. He has also competed internationally as part of UK-based bhangra team Vasda Punjab.
Eastern Eye caught up with the maestro to discuss dance, his culturally rich classes and Just Naach win.
Tell us something about Ultimate Bhangra?
At Ultimate Bhangra, we teach and educate real folk elements of bhangra. It’s not just about the commercial bhangra most are used to. I teach what each step is, its origin, and how it should be performed, in its true essence. It is extremely rare to find academies that teach the way we do. Ultimate Bhangra preserves bhangra traditions and brings the ultimate experience, energy, joy, and togetherness among dancers.
How did it feel when you won the Just Naach event?
Incredible! We felt on top of the world winning. You could see from the juniors faces how much it meant to them, Emotions were high and they were all so proud of each other. It was a huge victory for Ultimate Bhangra, the instructors, kids, and more importantly, the parents who trusted us in this whole process.
Tell us about the performance.
Preparations started with getting through with an audition tape. Being head coach and choreographer, I wanted a powerful performance that would leave audiences and competitors shocked at the capabilities of this team. Each individual was assessed, with 40 kids being whittled down to 20, and then the final 12 who performed on stage, at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. The performers’ age range was between 7-13 years old. It was a four-week gruelling process, with new choreography, and formations they had never done before. We channelled positive energy into the final team’s performance, with a common goal, to win.
Tell us about another memorable performance.
No stage has fazed our juniors. They performed in front of thousands at the recent Commonwealth Games Festival in Birmingham. We have instilled a hero-like confidence in each dancer. Hands on your hips, chest out, chin up, smile and let’s take on the world.
Tell us about your dance classes.
They are for everyone, regardless of age or experience. Ultimate Bhangra is all about the infectious positive energy. We plan our classes to ensure that everyone is involved and, most importantly, has fun. My team always ensures beginners get an introduction to basic steps on their first class. This is so crucial. We want everyone to feel comfortable, whether it be adults or kids. The social side of meeting and learning with new people is part of the fun, alongside obvious physical benefits.
How can bhangra dance classes help people, especially kids?
It helps physically and mentally. Here, at Ultimate Bhangra, we want to encourage and give confidence to the next generation of leaders. Ultimate Bhangra classes work wonders with a child’s mental well-being, develops their communication and listening skills, while enabling them to form new friendships. The unity through teamwork allows their self-confidence to flourish while remaining focused and disciplined.
What inspires you as a choreographer?
I love seeing people gain confidence with something they never thought of doing like performing in front of thousands. Dance allows people to exceed their own expectations. Personally, I like keeping folk bhangra alive and it’s at the heart of everything I do. Dancing to commercial music is what the majority enjoy, but I also love to incorporate traditional bhangra steps into my style of teaching. It keeps it unique and innovative.
Why do you love dance?
Moving your body to music can transform your life, physically and mentally. It improves your cardiovascular health and boosts cognitive performance. Everyone has a heartbeat, and this beat is the rhythm which allows anyone to dance.
Instagram: @parambeersamrai & @ultimate.bhangra, Facebook: Ultimate Bhangra by Parambeer Samrai and YouTube: Ultimate Bhangra