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, 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

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read