Shan-e-Punjab Dance school mixes cultures

Dance students are busy preparing for the annual Youth Showcase, in honour of the Sikh harvest festival.

(Front) Trista Dahmi

(Front) Trista Dahmi

Sonia Grewal arrived in Canada as a baby in 1970, so her connection to her Indian roots came partly through rented Bollywood films.

“My mother, to keep me busy and out of trouble, she’d turn on the (VCR),” Grewal said. She fell in love with the genre, and danced along.

But as a Canadian girl, she also followed Western pop culture.

In elementary school, she started a dance group.

“It was just the four of us and we’d go around at recess doing these little dances to Shaun Cassidy’s music,” she said. “As much as I loved Bollywood, I think I just picked up beats. … At that age, any music that comes your way, you’re able to move with it.”

The foursome called their troupe Sha Na Na.

“How was I to know later on I’d have a (dance) school called Shan-e-Punjab?” she asked.

While her school’s name sounds like the nonsense syllables from her childhood dance group, the meaning is quite different.

Shan-e-Punjab means “to bring honour to the Punjabi culture,” she said.

These days, dance students are busy preparing for the annual Youth Showcase, in honour of the Sikh harvest festival. The school, started in 1996, teaches traditional dances from the Sikh region of Northern India, but also what’s popular today.

“If the popular thing right now is Bhangra, then that’s what we’ll mainly focus on,” Grewal said. That includes mixes with Top 40.

“One year we had Michael Jackson,” she said. “That piece was contributed to us by a girl who has been with us for over 16 years … and she’s a third- or fourth-generation Indo-Canadian. … You’ve got perspectives from everyone.”

Today, Grewal has lost her family connection to her homeland.

“There’s no elder aunts, anybody there.”

But keeping her culture alive through her dance school keeps her going.

“Everybody needs that feeling of engagement. Who am I, where do I come from?” she said. “For me, I think I’m a stronger person because of it. … For me, it’s like my oxygen.”

Mark your calendar:

The Shan-e-Punjab Dance, Performing Arts and Heritage School puts on its annual Youth Cultural Showcase on April 29. It takes place at 3 p.m. at the University of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium. Tickets $12 for adults and $7 for students. For more information, email Shan.e.Punjab1993@gmail.com.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
UPDATED: Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

Langford Fire Rescue (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford looks to strike out on its own for emergency fire dispatch services

Mayor Stew Young says the city is large enough to negotiate solo

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Oak Bay Police Department briefs for May 3 to 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Copper wire stolen after Oak Bay construction site targeted twice by thieves

Cop briefs include pair of impounded cars, swiped back medication

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Island community

Crofton residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

The seasonal Search and Rescue program will run between May to September. ( File photo/Canadian Coast Guard)
North Vancouver Island Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Program ready to relaunch

Teams have protocols in place to ensure COVID-19 safety while providing marine safety net

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Most Read