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Calgary seniors enjoy ‘wonderful’ Bhangra twist on Stampede traditions

Seniors practice their Bhangra dancing moves at the Kerby Centre in downtown Calgary. Global News

Hitting the floor and moving to the music is a big part of Stampede fun for a lot of Calgarians.

Now some veteran dancers are stepping out in a brand new direction.

People at the Kerby Centre, a downtown facility that provides a wide variety of services and programs for seniors, are learning some Bhangra moves.

An instructor with the Young Bhangra Calgary group has been teaching them the basics of the traditional Indian dance.

“Back home in India, farmers used to cultivate and after the harvest they used to celebrate with joy,” instructor Ramneek Singh said. “The dance form became known as Bhangra.”

The seniors say they’re enjoying the chance to kick up their heels in a new way.

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Click to play video: 'Line dancing takes centre stage at the Calgary Stampede'
Line dancing takes centre stage at the Calgary Stampede

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of energy and lots of fun,” Donna Kelly said.

Bhangra may be a departure from the traditional country and western standbys like the line dance and the two-step, but the seniors say it’s a great way to get into the Stampede spirit.

“It’s a wonderful form of dance and the way that the instructor described about what farmers were doing in the field — there’s a huge connection between the farmers there and here,” Maaike Seaward said. “So yeah, I think there’s a lot of Stampede flavour in Bhangra.”

Singh said teaching the seniors is an enjoyable experience.

“The senior are doing good and the best thing is that they’re so active – they always make me feel that they are younger than me,” Singh said. “It’s fun to teach them.”

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The Stampede week Bhangra lessons were the last of the summer classes, but the Kerby Centre will be offering a new session of instruction in the fall of 2023.

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