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The stage is set

by Ronil Desai / Vancouver Canucks

They don’t use skates nor do they perform in front of thousands on a 200-foot long rink, and they certainly do not have a city’s weight resting on their shoulders.

But the Simon Fraser’s University’s Bhangra team, otherwise known as SFU Elite, do engage in competitive spirit against several teams in North America who are in the hunt for the number one spot.

Despite their differences with the Canucks, this group of 12 individuals, divided into males and females, were born and raised in the city of Vancouver and thrive to emulate the competiveness their hometown team brings to the stage.

Imagine the little kid on the driveway playing road hockey with his friends and stacking the pads, imitating his hockey hero or the team that wins the championship and raises their trophy above their shoulders similar to hoisting the Stanley Cup. The same works for these 12 students who visualize themselves in Canuck colors because it helps the team in reaching a higher standard.

“It’s the mentality that is significant in this process,” said Jag Samra, captain of SFU Elite. “We see ourselves through the Canucks because they are the essence of teamwork in this city. They are the role models who lead teams like us in the direction we strive to reach. Their integrity, competence and teamwork are qualities we attempt to bring in the studio and on stage.”

Bhangra is a unique form of dance that originated in Southeast Asia and has now fully emerged into the world of fitness. Working up a sweat is common for this group and the opportunity to be a part of a dance team serves as an outlet to get in shape and illustrate their love for the arts. These reasons are evident in every team, which is why SFU needs to find the distinctive traits that serve as motivation when up against others who are in pursuit of the same title.

Assistant captain Hiten Mistry believes these traits are dependent on each individual. “Every member is diverse like every player on the ice. Each has their own skill set and it’s vital to learn about your teammates in order to discover what gets them going.”

The SFU Elite Bhangra team recently fell short of their expectations and failed to place in the top three in Seattle’s annual dance competition. After training for months and improving on their style and technique, the confidence was at an all-time high, which is why the aftermath was a tough pill to swallow.

“We are back in the studio and looking for ways to improve, whether it’s individually or as a team. We’re not going to keep our heads down and just hope for the best. The Canucks suffered a heartbreaker in June and now they’re back fighting for it all over again and that’s super motivating,” said Manbir Grewal, who is in his fifth year with the team.

Professionals in both hockey and dance train intensely and have to be ready for action when the stage is set. While hockey clubs often follow a consistent approach when they hit the ice, dance teams are expected to produce fresh content every time they step foot on stage. While the differences outweigh the similarities, the art of teamwork and striving to reach a distinct competitive edge lies in every individual who is a part of organized team play.

While SFU Elite will never lace the skates and dance on ice, the team is on the right path when using the Canucks as inspiration in their road to redemption.

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