About Joyatri

Avid thrifter and vintage clothes wearer. Love 1960s and early 1970s styles. Partial to Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian, Renaissance and Medieval art. Former art historian. Current packrat. On a continual quest for good-looking, comfortable vegan shoes. Bhangra dancer since 2002. Fascinated by all things Indian. Vegan and animal advocate. 

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Words I like:

"She was dressed, as usual, in an odd assortment of clothes, most of which had belonged to other people." 

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1913-1980)



“I said "Somebody should do something about that." Then I realized I am somebody.”

 Lily Tomlin




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Entries in MIT Summer Bhangra (5)


India Day 2012

As mentioned in my last post, I was gearing up for a bhangra performance at the annual India Day festival.

There was the usual chaos of getting dressed and made up on the lawn. We were a colorful bunch and had lots of folks taking picture of us as we got ready.

Lots of safety pins to keep everything in place

We're a diverse group.

MIT Summer Bhangra always closes the show – and looks pretty exuberant since we can barely fit all of us on stage. My motto for the group has always been “We may not be the best dancers, but we’ve got the most people.” As I mentioned before, as long as you can commit to the rehearsal schedule, anyone can dance. Everyone from kids to, uh, me (I’m at least 15 years older than the second oldest person performing.)

So, it being Tuesday, the video of the performance is my ‘ta-dah.” I’m in the introductory dance, and the third (with sticks) and fifth (“Call Me Maybe”) ones. Sorry, the audience is screaming so loud, you can barely hear the music. At the end of our performance, we were asked to do an encore and did the whole thing again.

If there are bhangra classes in your area, I highly recommend taking them. Bhangra is a blast!

Linking to Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping’s Ta-Dah Tuesday. Check out the other projects and great finds there.


My life (so far) in bhangra

To commemorate India’s Independence Day, the Indian Association of Greater Boston holds a huge festival on the banks of the Charles River. There’s a stage for performances all day long and tons of food and vendor stalls. I’ve been told that around 5000 people attend each year. Tomorrow is the India Day show.

I'm in blue in the left foreground. Since 2001, I’ve been dancing in a community bhangra troupe that MIT organizes. The only exceptions have been 2 years when I had my own small bhangra troupe which performed at other venues, and 2 years when I wasn’t living here. So, tomorrow will be my 8th time dancing for India Day. (I've posted videos for the past couple years, just click on the 'bhangra' tag to find them.)

Back in late 2001, I was walking home from work at about 9pm and was too hungry to cook, so I stopped at a new Punjabi hole-in-the wall restaurant for takeout. They were blasting music with a strong, infectious beat. For some reason, my shoulders started going up and down. I asked what the music was and the guy behind the counter said it was ‘bhangra.’ He showed me the cd. It was a 3-cd compilation, which I bought at the Indian grocer’s a few days later. I played it over and over until I could sing in Punjabi.

After an online search for ‘bhangra’ to learn more about it. I found out that there was a dance that went with the music and that just down the road, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) taught free bhangra classes. I was at the next class. Anyone who could commit to the rehearsal schedule, regardless of ability, could be in the upcoming India Day performance. Each session was 2-3 hours long and I left feeling like I had been hit by a truck. And the choreography was complicated. I made it a personal challenge to get through it.

According to one of the organizer's web archive of that summer's performance:

We typically do not try such complicated arrangements when so many novices are involved, but the leaders simply did not tell the dancers that the choreography was difficult. This crafty omission worked; all the dancers were completely fooled into dancing the section splendidly!

Before my first India Day performance, 2001Within a couple months, I was dancing on a stage in front of thousands of people. And have done so nearly every year since.

Before the India Day performance, 2003A bunch of us went on to form Shaan-e-Cambridge, 2005Shaan-e-Cambridge rehearsalBefore the India Day performance, the summer I was going through chemo, 2008India Day, 2011My knees are shot and I can’t do squats anymore, but I figure in a couple decades I’ll start a new craze to sweep assisted-living facilities – geriatric bhangra. As long as my shoulders can go up and down, I’ll be dancing.

Off to the last reheasal!


MIT Bhangra, India Day 2011

OK, this was a couple months back now, but since I always post the video of MIT Summer Bhangra's performance at the big India Day celebration on the Boston Esplanade -- here is this year's. Rehearsals were disorganized as usual, but it all came together in the end. Anyway who cares if it's not the most professional bhangra performance. It's fun.

I'm in the second dance.


MIT Bhangra, India Day video


Coming Aug. 17 -- India Day, Boston

I have gotten really bad about keeping this website updated.

I am back in Cambridge and I'll be dancing in the India Day celebration on the Esplanade in Boston. As usual MIT Bhangra will be closing the show, going on stage some time around 8:45-9pm. 

This photo from India Day in 2002 shows me in the foreground in blue, in a squatting dance move that I probably can't do anymore. The dance I am in this year luckily has no squats.