Student Arts Org. Feature: UNC Bhangra Elite

By Erin Wadsworth

One of our Arts Everywhere ambassadors recently got the chance to interview Arpita Das, a co-manager of the Bhangra Elite Team. Read the story below to find out about the organization’s beginnings, how they’re working through the pandemic, and more!
Bhangra Elite team poses together
The Bhangra Elite Team posing together after the Maryland Mauj competition in 2019

Arts Everywhere: Can you tell me a little bit about Bhangra Elite?

Arpita Das: Founded in 1996, Bhangra Elite is an Indian competitive folk dance team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bhangra is an upbeat, high-energy dance form that evolved from the farm fields of Punjab, a state in North India. We aim to spread our passion for dance and Punjabi culture through on-campus shows, charity events, and a variety of competitions across the nation. At practice, we teach our members Bhangra technique, proper form, the use of props, and ultimately, a full dance set choreographed by our own student captains. Bhangra Elite seeks to embody joy, energy, creativity, and most importantly, the power of teamwork in each and every performance.

Bhangra Elite performs on stage at Maryland Mauj
UNC Bhangra Elite performing at Maryland Mauj in 2020

Arts Everywhere: How has Bhangra Elite adjusted for COVID?

Arpita Das: For the safety of our dancers, we have decided to move all of our practices online. In the past, we would meet three times a week in the SRC where we would teach choreography and clean dance form. Now, we practice twice a week on Zoom with the same goals in mind. Luckily, we have been able to increase team bonding events this year with virtual watch parties of competitions and particularly impressive performances by other teams.

Arts Everywhere: What has been your favorite memory with Bhangra Elite?

Arpita Das: Competitions are always special with our team. From the weeks of preparation, the road trip to the competition, and the mix of pure adrenaline and nerves experienced on-stage, each second is memorable. These competitions strengthen our bond within our team, and enhances our understanding of Bhangra culture. Competitions help us connect with the national Bhangra community through our mutual love of dance.

Team photo at Buckeye Mela
The 2020 team at Buckeye Mela, a national inter-collegiate competition

Arts Everywhere: What are you looking forward to doing with Bhangra Elite this semester?

Arpita Das: This semester, we are competing at Buckeye Mela, a national inter-collegiate dance competition hosted by OSU. It is the biggest South Asian dance competition in the Midwest. We have competed at Buckeye Mela in the past and are very excited to participate this year. The competition premieres virtually on March 27th, 2021.

Arts Everywhere: How can students get involved with Bhangra Elite?

Arpita Das: We hold tryouts for our dance team at the beginning of each semester. We publicize information about tryouts on our Instagram (@BhangraElite) and Facebook (UNC Bhangra Elite) pages. Students may fill out the form and attend the tryouts to become a member of our team.

You can find more about UNC Bhangra Elite at any of the sites below!

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