Some four years ago, Nova Scotia’s Maritime Bhangra Group became YouTube sensations, thanks to a video of them dancing on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove. Now, in the face of COVID-19, they dance on, still sharing their message of joy.
Since then, Maritime Bhangra has been the subject of the 2019 CBC Gem documentary Behind the Bhangra Boys and performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and on one of the last episodes of the Rick Mercer Show.
While they’re stuck at home now, they’ve had the opportunity over the last few years to discover much more of their country. Including rural communities like Fort St. John, B.C. and small towns coast to coast.
“Maritimes is home right, so it is a different feeling,” Chandok says. “People know you and recognize your face. When traveling outside the Maritimes it’s more people are like ‘oh are you from that video?'” says Chandok.
A Toronto chapter of the group is in the works, as one of the founding members of Maritime Bhangra has since moved to Toronto and is recruiting dancers to perform and raise money for charities there.
Supporting good causes is key to the group’s philosophy. Every performance raises funds for charity. Recent recipients include Autism Nova Scotia, the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
“We are just complementing what they are already doing,” says Chandok. “We are just trying to do a really small part however we can.” One of the latest projects is a video (with the dancer wearing a mask, of course) urging donations to Feed Nova Scotia.
Public events are cancelled for the foreseeable future but the group plans to keep the videos coming. “We are creating videos either from the content we had shot earlier before the COVID-19 craziness started, or we are trying to create something where people can dance from their own homes,” Chandok says.
And when things get back to normal, he wants to do is tour the province and reconnect with Nova Scotians. “With the amount of grief and sadness we are all going through considering what has happened in the last few days,” says Chandok, “we all need a bit of smiling.”