Walk into positivity and smile to the fullest! From the Yukon, Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher is sending joy, hope and positivity across Canada and beyond. Check out our Q&A with this delightful human below! —Vita Daily
Hi Gurdeep! When did you first start dancing? What has made Bhangra such a passion for you in life?
I started dancing as a child when I saw my family and relative dancing Bhangra. Then in my teenage years, I started taking professional classes. My family is from Siahar, a small village in Punjab. Bhangra is a significant part of the Punjabi-Sikh culture and I am proud to introduce others to it. The art form was created to celebrate the harvest by dancing to the beat of the traditional Dhol Drum. Since my time in Punjab, my love and passion for Bhangra has continued to grow and I have adopted dance as a part of my everyday life. I am delighted that my full-time work has become making dance videos and teaching dance at studios and online to schools and organizations nationwide. My passion for Bhangra continues to develop as my dancing has become source of joy for many during this difficult time.
You’ve become a beacon of hope and happiness for many during the pandemic with your videos; did you set out to do this, or has it come as a surprise?
Originally, I had set out to dance like nobody was watching, but to my surprise, many individuals across Canada began to view my online videos. When I first made these Bhangra videos, I had no idea how far they could reach or the effect it would have on others. I created a video after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, where I danced on a frozen lake in northern Yukon. The video has continued to grow, and now has been viewed over three million times on Twitter. I posted this video to bring reassurance to those who may be anxious or nervous about receiving the vaccine. But, I primarily make videos to promote joy, hope and positivity.
How do you use your social media platforms (and status as a YouTube star) to uplift and inspire others? What recent messages have you been sending to your fans?
I try to use social media in a positive way, through building community and bringing awareness to important issues. I also consider social media and YouTube videos to be beneficial for schools and education, as online learning has become essential. However, while my social media platforms have gained popularity, I try to remind myself to take breaks from the screen and to disconnect from the outside world. This allows us to connect with nature and dance to the fullest open hearts and minds. As my views increase, I have begun to understand the true value and importance of my work through receiving feedback from my viewers. It is clear to me that the impact it can have on someone is much more meaningful than the amount of engagement I receive on a post.
What type of feedback do you receive from, well, strangers who see you on social media? Do you enjoy interacting with followers and fans?
Yes, I very much enjoy interacting with followers and I am immensely grateful for the positive feedback. Through my videos, I have received many notes from those who felt uplifted. I was once sent a letter from a woman writing that my videos brought her relief while she had recently undergone a life-saving procedure and was in the ICU. Another experience I had, was when I received a messaged from a front-line worker telling me how watching my videos gave her courage to continue working in health care. Along with this, a man asked me to keep his family in my heart, as he had just lost his spouse. I have also been sent online messages, greeting cards, postcards, letters, artworks and paintings that allowed me to gain insight into their personal lives. As I reflect on this feedback, it has had a profound effect on me. This brought me that the realization that my dancing is bigger then just creating YouTube videos. It’s a social service.
How did you wind up living in Yukon, and what’s your favorite thing about it?
The Yukon is incredibly beautiful, with dense nature, large lakes and picturesque mountains. About 10 years ago, I decided to make cross-country road trips everywhere to learn about the nation and I ended up coming to the Yukon and never left. With the exception of my village in Punjab, Whitehorse Yukon is where I have lived most of my life. I have lived here for about 10 years and I am a proud Yukoner. In my spare time, I love to share smiles with my neighbors at coffee shops in the many unique Yukon communities. In the Yukon, it seems like a close-knit village of friends and I am happy to call this welcoming town home.