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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC, N.C. State alumni create app to bring Indian dance to the masses

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

But a 2012 UNC alumnus and content director of the free Learn Bhangra app, Bianca Bulchandani, doesn’t think this is true.

“Anyone that watches this dance knows that the dancers are having much more fun than the audience watching the dance itself,” she said. “You can learn that — even if it’s just you watching one video a day.”

As a freshman, Yeshel Chokshi auditioned for UNC’s Bhangra Elite without any experience in the style of dance. Now a junior, Chokshi serves as co-captain for Bhangra Elite, overseeing the organization of choreography, music, props and outfits for each performance.

Chokshi said his evolution from a freshman with no experience with Bhangra to his position as captain is a result of hard work and encouragement from his teammates.

“I was one of the only first year guys on the team,” he said. “So I pretty much got pushed into competing right off the bat.”

Learn Bhangra CEO and 2010 alumnus Lavesh Pritmani spent many years at UNC with Bulchandani performing the same dance and participating in the same group that Chokshi currently leads.

Now, years later, both Bulchandani and Pritmani said the dancing they did at UNC and the education they received served as integral influences in their decision to create the Learn Bhangra app.

Bulchandani was involved in Bhangra Elite as a dancer, and later became more of an adviser.

“I was a business major at UNC,” Pritmani said. “So I actually pulled a lot of my marketing slides and just looked at how to identify a target market.”

Pritmani said he believes the application is a hybrid of many things. Content-wise, Pritmani believes that the application is unlike any other because the Learn Bhangra team not only creates its own content, but also maintains a platform upon which the content can be accessed and shared. Physically, Pritmani says the app is a combination of traditional Punjab influences and a bold, modern background.

“We wanted to keep the Bhangra traditional look intact,” Pritmani said. “But we also wanted to give it a fitness element.”

A major component of the Learn Bhangra app is the 30-day workout program designed and taught by Pritmani himself.

“It is one of the most intense dance forms you can do,” Pritmani said. “It’s such a difficult workout. (Other workouts) don’t even compare to how tough the Bhangra workout is.”

“Moving at that high level of intensity, at that energy, at that pace,” Bulchandani agreed. “It’s a way to get moving, to get in shape.”

As a skilled Bhangra dancer, Chokshi said he believes the Learn Bhangra app is an important way for people to not only to connect with the Punjab culture of India but also to have fun and get in shape.

“It’s a dance of pride, it’s a dance of energy, it’s a dance that has a rich tradition behind it,” Bulchandani agreed. “But you don’t have to know that to have fun dancing Bhangra.”

arts@dailytarheel.com

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