CHICAGO: Punjabi Bhangra (folk dance) teams including the University of Chicago, Spartan Bhangra from Cleveland Ohio, “Raakhe Virse De” from Michigan, SFU Bull Bhangra from Tampa Florida, and Nachdi Jawani Folk Loverz from Toronto competed in the 10th PCS (Punjabi Cultural Society) Chicago International Bhangra and Gidha Competition held on October 14 at Meadows Club, in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Anita Lerche, a Billboard Top-5 charting artist and an internationally acclaimed award-winning singer, songwriter and composer, enthralled the audience with her singing and dancing. She started with her song “Aao Ji” and kept the audience spellbound and engaged with her songs “Lathe Di Chadar ute,” “Heer” and “Sadke Punjab Ton.”
P.C.S. introduced Anita Lerche for the first time to a Chicago audience. She originates from Denmark and was the first non-Asian woman from the West to release an album in Punjabi known as “Heer From Denmark.”
Despite the heavy rain and flooding on Chicago streets, more than 500 diehard PCS supporters defied the weather to enjoy this colorful and high energy cultural showcase.
Nearly 100 male and female bhangra performers from all over the United States and Canada and local youth coordinators participated in this event. The competition this year was among the bhangra teams only, who wore stunning costumes and gave stellar performances.
“Bhangra continues to rise to new heights, there were more non-Punjabi than Punjabi names among the list of these university teams participants, which is great. We hope to keep families and the youth engaged in their Punjabi culture,” said Sukhmel Singh Atwal, President of PCS Chicago.
In addition to a meaningful bhangra competition experience, the participants had a lot of fun games and dancing during pre and post event social mixers, networking parties, meals together and celebrations like a youth festival.
Competition performances were judged by seasoned bhangra experts who are not PCS officials. Parminder Singh Walia, Vipan Kaur Kaler, Amrita Kaur Randhawa, and Navkiran Kaur Dhillon judged the teams for traditional dance form, authenticity, costumes, choreography, artistic creativity, and flawlessness in their presentations. Rajinder Singh Mago, a P.C.S. official, coordinated the judgment process. The team captains received friendly feedbacks from the judges after the show.
Pardeep Deol announced the Bhangra competition results. “Nachdi Jawani Folk Loverz” an independent Bhangra team from Toronto, Canada, comprised mostly of youth ranging in age from 10 to 17 years, won the PCS Chicago Bhangra Championship 2017 first place trophy and $3,100 cash along with the bragging rights amidst thunderous applause all through their performance. They landed and swept the stage like a whirlwind and with every move they made, they won the hearts and minds of the audience and the judges.
The second place PCS trophy and $2,100 cash prize was won by “Raakhe Virse De,” another independent Bhangra team from Michigan. It was a very close contest with all the rest of the teams, making the judges sweat to come to a final decision. Interestingly, this team (RVD) was runners-up in PCS Bhangra competition in 2014 as well.
Tarandeep Singh Nagra compered the bhangra competition teams performances and also the dance-off for the best dancer contest. Fantastic Bhangra performances one after the other announced by Nagra kept the spectators spellbound. Nobody moved away from their seats right till the end lest they miss a performance.
Parvinder Singh Nanua emceed the sponsors recognitions segment. Event sponsors Lakhvir Singh Sahota, Kevin Atwal, Balwinder “Nick” Singh, Surjit Singh Chera, Harkewal Singh Lally, Jaidev Singh Bhathal, Jesse Sahota, Dr. Gurdial Singh Basran in lieu of PCS Chairman Hardial Singh Deol were honored with plaques by chief guest Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini.
“PCS Chicago officials and volunteers work very hard and do a great job organizing this event and hosting the guest teams from far and near for the weekend celebrations. Our community must also do their part and support them in their efforts to be able to continue promoting our culture,” said Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini the chief guest.
Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the grand sponsor.
The event was also sponsored by Dr. Narinder S Grewal, Mohina Ahluwalia, PCS Chairman Hardial Singh Deol, and Gurdeep Singh Nandra.
The program was organized by P.C.S. officials Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Mohinderjit Singh Saini, Bikram Singh Chohan, Parvinder Singh Nanua, Surinder Singh Palia, Manjeet Singh Bhalla, Raibrinder Singh Ghotra, Pardeep Singh Deol, Surinder Singh Sangha, Sunny Kular, Balwinder Singh Girn, Paul Lail, Bhinder Singh Pamma, Onkar Singh Sangha, Parminder Singh Ghotra, Yadwinder Singh Grewal, Ronny Kular, Vick Singh, Gurmit Singh Dhillon, Amarjit Kaur Atwal, Jasbir Singh Palia, and Rajinder Singh Mago.
The logistics of the competition and the pre and post event activities were managed by the P.C.S. youth organizing committee comprising of Harleen Kaur, Taranpreet Singh Nagra, Amardeep Kaur Deol, Harman Kaur Sidhu, Shan Dev, and Ankush Verma, Jaskaran Singh Saini, led by Pardeep Singh Deol and Bikram Singh Chohan. The youth group was introduced on stage by Pardeep Singh Deol, and honored for their hard work with plaques by the Chief guest Dr. Bhupinder Singh Saini.
The next PCS Chicago’s mainstream event is participation in McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on State Street in Chicago downtown on Thanksgiving Day November 23, with a theme “Punjabi Maharaja Wedding Procession.” The PCS contingent will include a decorated float, a dressed-up walking unit, Bhangra dance troupe, Punjabi music and live Dhol drum, where thousands of spectators will line up to watch and it will also be broadcast live on WGNTV-9 and re-broadcast on CLTV later.
P.C.S. is an all volunteer non-profit community service organization devoted to promoting Punjabi culture, performing arts, education, sports, and good citizenship in the Chicago Metropolitan area.
PCS Calendar of Events:
* PCS Chicago will participate with a float in “McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on November 23 on State Stree,t Chicago
* PCS Chicago will host the “New Year Eve Langar” on December 31 in Palatine, IL
* “PCS Rangla Punjab 2018” in April 2018. Teams form and rehearsals start in January 2018.
* “PCS Youth Graduation Night” in June 2018
* “PCS Sports Festival in July 2018