Best of the Bay 2012: BEST DANCE DOMINATION


You may not know this, but you are living in the shadows of an empire. An empire with an origin spanning three continents and stretching back to 2006. Its ruling class is composed of fierce athletes and dedicated artists who preserve a lively tradition with the concentration of tigers on the prowl — but who aren't afraid to dress up in outrageous costumes and re-enact hilarious Bollywood movie sequences. Behold, Bhangra Empire, a dazzling entity of interlocking steps and poised limbs that performs contemporary variations on bhangra, the Punjabi harvest dance that was transformed in underground clubs in 1980s London into a vital global art form. The Bay Area, with its huge Indian population and many fans of all things subcontinental, has embraced bhangra wholeheartedly, and the Bhangra Empire troupe — our hometown representative at national bhangra dance competitions (and even at the White House) — helps keeps us all on our toes.