A smartphone, a good location and a few dance moves: that’s all it took for Hasmeet Singh Chandok’s Maritime Bhangra Group to capture the world’s attention.
Ever since a video the group made at Peggy’s Cove last fall went viral—viewed millions of times around the world—several organizations have offered the dance group extra resources, but Chandok says there’s a reason they still shoot all their performances on an iPhone.
“I want to give out this message to people that if you want to bring change, you can’t complain that you didn’t have enough resources,” says Chandok, a Computer Science master’s student from India. “If you want to do it, just do it.” Chandok began organizing Bhangra dance performances for events within the Dal community a few years ago through the Sikh Student Association—a student group he started with his brother, Kunwardeep (a Dal alum), to raise awareness about Sikh religion and culture on campus. Noticing the popularity of the performances, Chandok decided last summer to form a dedicated dance group to carry their message of tolerance and change to a wider audience. That’s exactly what Maritime Bhangra Group has done.
The group has produced several follow-up videos since the Peggy’s Cove breakout hit, including one featuring federal cabinet ministers. The segments typically start with 40 to 50 seconds of dancing followed by a message to raise awareness about different causes from prostate cancer to the neurodegenerative disease ALS. “When people share these videos, they are not sharing just a dance,” he says. “They are sharing a social responsibility of raising awareness about important causes.”