VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Gurdeep Pandher, a Yukon-based bhangra dancer, shows his skill with sweeping arm movements and high kicks on the steps of the BC Legislature Building on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Gurdeep Pandher is always ready for an adventure, making friends and dancing a bhangra number or two – especially on the steps of the B.C. Legislature Building.

The Yukon-based dancer moved to Canada from Punjab more than a decade ago, but it wasn’t until recently that he became a household name with several of his bhangra dance videos going viral on social media.

Pandher’s journey to social media stardom started “organically” when he shared an online video of his Canada Day performance in Whitehorse. The video initially meant for friends and family was shared and watched by some 300,000 people overnight, said Pandher, who’s been doing bhangra since he was a child living in a village in Punjab.

On Aug. 7, Pandher announced on Twitter that he would be exploring Vancouver Island for 10 days and shared a video of him doing bhangra in front of the legislature building in downtown Victoria. After touring Greater Victoria, he planned to drive up to Tofino – making various stops along the way.

This wasn’t Pandher’s first time on Vancouver Island. In 2019, he filmed a bhangra dance video with the Canadian Armed Forces at the base in Esquimalt which caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Since then, Pandher has danced with bagpiper Jordan Lincez, Canadian Paralympian Stephanie Dixon and Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis – each video raking in millions of views.

“Wherever I go, I end up making new connections. This type of work unites people. It doesn’t matter which background or which part of the world you’re coming from – you have the same feelings inside.”

Despite being a social media sensation, Pandher doesn’t feel like a celebrity. He values the simpler things and feels “real richness is being happy and positive.”

After touring Vancouver Island, Pandher will head home to his cabin outside Whitehorse, Yukon where he teaches bhangra workout classes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he’s begun offering classes online. The first session had about 70 people from across Canada taking part and he was surprised by the response.

”People were so excited and cheerful,” said Pandher, who now teaches 24 online dance classes per month to some 2000 students across Canada and the U.S.A.

“It was so heartwarming.”

The class fee is by donation and 25 per cent of the proceeds go to charities focused on COVID-19 and mental health – which has played a big role in Pandher’s dance journey. His goal is to use bhangra to break down barriers and lift spirits. People of all ages are feeling alone right now and students have said that the dance classes are a way to relieve that pressure, express emotions and find community.

The connecting doesn’t stop when the class is over, Pandher said, adding that he’s received “powerful” messages – some of which brought him to tears– from people who’ve found joy through bhangra – from doctors working on COVID-19 floors to bedridden patients who grooved along to the music.

“I’ve started feeling that may be it’s my duty or responsibility to spread positivity, joy and hope – if we have hope, we have everything,” Pandher said.

Dancing helps him stay hopeful too.

“When I start dancing, I forget everything and instantly regain my joy.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

DanceTrending Nowvancouverisland

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

Just Posted

Community Camera: September 24, 2020

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com.

Chilliwack’s Gary Robbins maps out epic trail across eight mountains

Robbins spent nearly 40 hours covering 110 miles and over 10,000 metres of elevation gain

PHOTOS: From corn kernels comes an Agassiz king

Nathan Hertgers is the 2020 Corn King

Missing Chilliwack man not seen for eight days

Bruce James Madill last known location was on Paula Crescent on Sept. 16

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read