This year, out of all other years of me taking part at The Bhangra Showdown (TBS), has definitely been the most emotional one. I will be answering your question as to why, by taking you through three stages of my showdown experience this year. Each stage was written at that exact moment, and truthfully reflects what was going through my mind at the time.
10 days before The Bhangra Showdown
‘How does it feel to be the red girl?’, ‘You are the main girl this year’, ‘Oh my God, you are the red Jodi this year!’, ‘From green to blue to red – wow you have worked up the ranks.’
These are a few of the remarks I am currently facing, with TBS right around the corner, and my team vigorously practicing for it.
I am nervous. Very nervous. I’m scared I’m going to let the team down. I’m worried that I am not good enough. I’ve never been so scared to perform before. It upsets me even more that none of my family and friends will be there to support me – they all have their own valid reasons.
I cherished the fact that I was the green Jodi during my first year of taking part at TBS. I was excited to have been the blue Jodi last year. This year I am terrified. I am a Tamil girl – will I be able to bring out that inner ‘Punjabi-ness’ as much as is expected from me? I don’t want to let my captain down, who has also been my Jodi for the past two years and is again my Jodi this year.
Everyone has been motivating me and saying I will be fine, but honestly speaking, I don’t think many people understand this new anxiety that has creeped into me. I’ve never experienced something like this before. It is frightening me.
Yesterday my friend came over and I spoke to her about this. And she reminded me of something which I actually forgot. She told me, ‘Praveena you love performing; without you even realising you make sure everyone’s eyes are on you. You being the so-called main girl gives you an opportunity show-off what you are capable of as a dancer and performer. Red is just a colour. You are Praveena and that’s all that matters.’
These words were very refreshing. It made me realise why I decided to take part at TBS every year. I love that stage. That crowd, that atmosphere, that buzzing feeling of performing on stage. It is a drug. Somewhere down the line this year, I forgot about that. I forgot that I’m doing Showdown again because I simply love it.
The fact that I forgot those roots has been reflected during my practice sessions as well. I am tired and not feeling it. Nevertheless, yesterday my friend’s words hit me so strong – it made me realise that actually, I am going to forget about the fact that I am the ‘Red Jodi’. I am Praveena. I love dancing too much so it’s about time I started believing in that love and passion, because it will be so worth it.
4 Days Before The Bhangra Showdown
Circumstances have changed massively. My parents are now coming to support me and I find this the biggest motivation which has pushed me and is making me want to do better, and give my best.
I never valued enough the importance of my parents when it came to me dancing. Honestly speaking, they are not a massive fan of me dancing so much because they are scared that I am prioritising dance over studies. This is not the case, but I understand where they are coming from. Anyway, last year knowing that my parents were there for me made all that much more of a difference to my energy and passion. I wanted to show them what I am capable of. There is no one else in this world that I want to prove myself to than my parents, especially when it comes to dance.
Right now I am so pumped for TBS. I have two more rehearsals left, and I know what bits I need to work on. I need to push myself and make sure that I am not making those same mistakes again today and tomorrow during rehearsals. Only then will I feel comfortable with the fact that I can do it on the day!
The day after The Bhangra Showdown
Well where shall I begin…my team was crowned the champions of TBSX and I was awarded the best female dancer. What more could I have asked for? I am honestly overwhelmed, if you’d asked me 10 days ago how I was feeling about TBS I would have honestly said I was too scared to get on that stage again. In a matter of 10 days, so much has changed, and now to have held not one but two trophies is just amazing.
This could not have been possible without my family and friends who have been my biggest pillars of support. My friend’s wise words of motivation from last week was where it started! And then my parents decided to buy tickets! Knowing my parents were there to watch me was just something else altogether. I have always felt strong about not wanting to let them down, so I hope I have made them proud. Just when I thought I was too spoilt with affection, three of my friends who initially said were not coming, had surprised me on the day of show by coming along to show their support. As I had finished performing and left the stage, I was still a little upset that none of my friends were there to see my performance. I went into the changing room and checked my phone to see that I had received messages from three of them saying how much UoB ‘smashed it’! They had booked their tickets in November and knew they were coming all along, but they wanted to surprise me. They always knew how important TBS has been for me. Yes, I am spoilt with immense love from every direction, which I am forever going to be grateful for.
My brilliant team – I honestly do not know what to say. We trained hard and it was so worth it. We are a group of people who want to get the best out of each other. That is exactly why I enjoying being on the team, however tough the training period may be. When you are surrounded by a group of people who look out for you as if you are family, what more could you ask for? We won because we were more than just 16 dancers, we are a family of 16 and we hope that is what came across on stage. The reason I got the ‘Best Female Dancer’ award was all because of my team. Each one of them pushed me – they encouraged me, critiqued me and ultimately got that inner Punjabi out of me!
Since Saturday I have received so many messages congratulating me and the team for our success. I received even more messages about that fact that people were proud of me for firstly representing the Punjabi culture so honourably, especially considering I am Tamil; and secondly, for the fact that I am a Tamil girl with very little knowledge of the Punjabi culture, yet doing well enough to gain that recognition anyway. What is my take on all of this? Well, I am very shocked that I got this award. This is because the only Bhangra experience I have had is the ones at University. I have never been part of any external teams and therefore I definitely am not very popular in the UK Bhangra Scene. I am quite truthfully a simple Tamil girl who started Bhangra because I love dancing and learning new things. I respect all dance styles, so when I decide to delve into one of them, I want to fully understand the culture behind it rather than just learning a set of moves. That is what I did, and the reason for this is because of my team and their passion. I wanted to understand and be part of that culture so I could best represent it when I dance. All that hard work was so worth it when I danced on that stage on Saturday!
Ten days ago, I thought I could not pull this off. And now to come out of the other end of it, and to know that we won and I did not let my team down is the best feeling ever!!! I learnt to believe in what I love doing – dancing! And hell yeah, we smashed it if I say so myself! #TeamUoB #UoBae