Getting Your Move on: From Bhangra to Bratsche by Teddy Schenkman

As a music performance major I love playing music, listening to music, and talking about music. But sometimes I need a break from it all, and so extra-curricular activities are essential for me. Dancing has always been a passion of mine. I never took any real classes; it was just something that I always enjoyed doing—from middle school dances, to swing dancing in gym class, or even just by myself in my room. When I came to Rice, there were all sorts of new opportunities for dance teams, and I decided to try some.

I had dabbled in swing dance and Latin dancing, so I joined the ballroom team; but on a whim I also tried out and got into an Indian-style dance team called Bhangra. Bhangra is a traditional style of Indian dance from the Punjab region of India. Originally associated with the harvest, it is now more of a fusion of traditional and Western dancing and music. The dance is characterized by lively, energetic moves.

Schenkman - Tango

Tangoing at Dances with Owls ballroom competition

The first semester of my freshmen year was a little ridiculous; between the two teams I had 8 hours of dance rehearsals a week. But I had a blast! It was always nice after a day in class and the practice room to dance for a few hours. Ballroom was always interesting because it forced me to analyze my body movements and posture. Ballroom dancing requires a relaxed but firm upper body and high right elbow to support the partner’s arm. The posture is not too dissimilar from playing a violin or viola. Keeping this upright posture actually helped me keep my viola up, which was a problem I’d had for years. Unfortunately, after my first semester last year it got to be too much, so to my regret I had to stop ballroom. But I’m still on Bhangra, and I plan to continue until I graduate. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about a different culture (including eating some delicious Indian food), meet some really cool people outside of music, and do some incredibly fun dancing!

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 Picture of me in a Bhangra dance competition

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