Bhangra Fever in Hong Kong
Harry Baath may have a few competition titles under his belt, but his biggest accomplishment is bringing India’s favourite dance form to Hong Kong. To say he is passionate about it, is an understatement. And it is not only passion but complete dedication from him and his team that we are able to say the words Bhangra and Hong Kong in the same sentence.
Please tell us about your family background and your education?
Both my parents are from Punjab and I am the youngest of five siblings who are all girls. We were all born in Hong Kong. I graduated from Sir Ellis Kadoorie School and completed the Form 5 Graduation.
You are a member of the finest Bhangra team in Hong Kong having won so many prizes as well. Are any of your family members performers, or did your passion for Bhangra stem from somewhere else?
No, none of my family members are Bhangra Performers however they do listen to Bhangra music and watch Punjabi Movies. I went to an audition for a cultural concert organized by Punjab Youth Club in 2005, and 8 of us were chosen to perform as the opening act. I’ve never looked back since.
Where did the idea to start a Bhangra Academy come from?
Through the years while performing at various events in Hong Kong, we noticed a shortage of dancers. My best friend Naveed Ahmed and I decided to form a dance group that we named We hoped this would encourage more people, especially
the youngsters to join and learn the dance form. I noticed that even the current generation who enjoy Bhangra music had no place to learn the dance. So, I started Bhangra Classes 5 years back in different locations around the city.
We also organized Bhangra workshops for people so that they could come and experience the fun and learn few basic dance moves.
Beside Funjabi Bhangra Hong Kong, I’m also the Brand Ambassador and a bhangra instructor certified by Learn Bhangra App. LBA is an international dance and fitness company based in the USA.
What are some of the difficulties you have faced getting to where you have?
Bhangra though very popular, gets mixed with generic Bollywood music. The difficulty I faced was more in terms of making the dance form stand out, and educating the public about it. Due to the lack of knowledge, especially amongst our local Chinese community (and many Indians as well) who do not understand the difference between Bhangra and Bollywood dance, it was challenging to educate the people about the different cultures that exist within India.
By performing in many cultural events organized by the government, district council and NGOs, we have been able to introduce our different cultures and dance forms to the public.
Any moment that stands out the most for you from these past years?
The best moment for me was when our team came in 3rd place in a competition organized by ATV Hong Kong.
Any difficult moments you would like to share with us?
I have experienced many setbacks in my personal life and in my career, but Bhangra has given me the strength to overcome and move past many of my adversities.
Your wife is a wonderful performer as well. How do you manage this aspect of your lives as a family?
My wife and I have been performing together since we started dating years back. Our family is proud of us and happy that both of us can celebrate a part of our culture and give back to our community.
You mentioned that apart from managing your dance group and classes, you also work elsewhere?
Yes, I am a Sales Manager working for a British Brand; I look after the sales & marketing of the Asia and Middle East markets.
Do you have any sponsors that help you finance your dance company or your studio classes?
Our biggest financial expense is renting studio space every Saturday for 4-5 hours. We cover the rent from the money we earn performing ind different events, organizing workshops, classes etc.
However, sometimes when we are short of funds, all our members graciously chip in.
I also want to mention that we are very lucky to have Mrs Purvis Shroff supporting and sponsoring us for the competitions.
Who are your team leaders?
I am the founder, president and the coach. Assisting me are Jaswinder Kaur our vice president and Navanpreet Kaur our team captain.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plan is to build a team, representing Hong Kong that can participate in more competitions held in India, Asia, USA and Australia. We especially would love to include more of our youth.
We would love to know a little about the competitions your team has won so far.
We were placed champions in the Bhangra Dance Off 2018 competition in Malaysia and the 2019 Red Dot Bhangra Competition in Singapore.
For international competitions we start prepping 3 months in advance working on our music and routine. It made us so happy that our hard work and passion payed off, and that we were able to showcase our love for Bhangra.
Any message that you would like to share with our readers?
Life is complicated. You may fail many times but never give up. Treat failure as a lesson, always smile, stay happy and move on until you
achieve your goals.