In My Silken Armor

July 9, 2021

My first Bharatanatyam costume was made of saffron yellow silk with fuschia borders, woven with golden zari thread that glimmered under the stage lights. A costume like this was usually custom-made for the dancer, but my mother bought this outfit secondhand for a fraction of its value. It was created for another girl, but destiny … Read More

Raniyaan di Raunaq is America’s First All-Women’s Bhangra Competition

May 23, 2019

There has never been an all women’s bhangra competition in the United States. That’s changing this summer, with the first all-women’s competition ever to be held this August in Washington, D.C. — Raniyaan di Raunaq. Competitive bhangra, which started as an expression of homeland Punjabi culture, has become its own subculture, with competition norms, online … Read More

Naach Girls Is a Glamorous Celebration of Women Performers

June 30, 2018

The dancing woman in Bollywood cinema, an often-portrayed character who performs for a largely male audience within the film while the actress playing her performs for a diverse set of viewers in real life, is a pillar of Bollywood’s appeal. Art director Amad Ilyas watched these films with their varied versions of “naach girls” — … Read More

Saying Goodbye to Basement Bhangra and the End of an Era

August 4, 2017

Early in the diaspora’s memory, there existed this place–in someone’s basement, DJ Rekha spun bhangra beats and brown kids danced. Basement Bhangra has been a longstanding tradition on the East Coast. For 20 years, DJ Rekha held down the South Asian community in New York City with monthly parties at SOB’s. She invited dancers, performers, … Read More

Watch These Nice White People Dance to Bole Chudiyan

April 2, 2017

Bollywood is truly universal. Seriously, though. I discovered this endearing video of white people dancing to Bole Chudiyan with some impressive precision on Twitter, captioned with “CAN SOMEONE CLARIFY WHAT NATIONALITY THEY ARE….” CAN SOMEONE CLARIFY WHAT NATIONALITY THEY ARE…. omg they dancing to bole churiyan  — @pakjstani Turns out they’re Albanian. Because let’s be real. … Read More