With a strong love for this dance, the eclectic group of women who make up the Dholrhythms Dance Company have become one of the most talked about groups in San Francisco Bay Area. The raw energy and passion which drives this group has helped create a demand for this dance featuring them on some of the largest stages in San Francisco.  Led by Co-Founder Vicki Virk’s Punjabi heritage, Dholrhythms Dance Company concentrates on highlighting the ancestral and ethnic roots of the Punjabi dance forms while pushing boundaries with a contemporary style. The result is fresh and unique performances full of fun, energy, and passion.

Vicki Virk
Co-Founder, Principal Dancer

Profession: Creative Director at Dholrhythms Dance Company and Non Stop Bhangra
Introduced to Bhangra:  I was born in Punjab, India and have been around Bhangra my whole life. Its a big part of my culture and family.
Joined the Company:  Co-founded the company in 2003

What attracted you to Bhangra:  Bhangra is one of most joyous, free-spirited, and down to earth dance forms i know. Its contagious, beautiful energy is what draws me to it.  When you dance to it, its an amazing release that allows you to open up your body and just let go.  During those moments, nothing else matters.

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  I have loved dancing for as long as i can remember. Being a part of such an incredible collective of women that come from all walks of life is truly empowering and inspiring. Words cannot fully express why i continue to do this but i can’t imagine my life without it.  I feel like i was destined to do this.

Most memorable moment:  There have been countless moments over the years that will be forever etched in my mind.   One of the most amazing experiences was performing at Stern Grove Festival. It was one of the first times our collective got an opportunity to share this energy at such a platform. Another one was getting the opportunity to share our story at TEDxSF



Suman Raj
Co-Founder, Principal Dancer

Profession:  Business Director at Dholrhythms Dance Company and Non Stop Bhangra
Introduced to Bhangra:  I was born on Fiji Islands and was introduced to Bhangra in my late teens.  Its has been a big part of my life since.
Joined the Company:  Co-founded the company in 2003

What attracted you to Bhangra:  The energy of Bhangra is not only incredibly festive but also very liberating.  It allows me to let go of life’s daily challenges for that short period of time and drown in pure joy and happiness.  The beauty and spirit of Bhangra is the expression of my inner soul, the release of my frustrations, and energy I long to have every moment of my life (except when I am sleeping)

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  I can’t imagine not doing Bhangra.  Regardless of what goes on in my life, I know that once I step into the room with the rest of the “Bhangra-istas”, I will be rewarded with sharing my “moves like Jagger” (not really) with the beautiful women who have also made their own special connection with this dance form.  Why would I not want to feel the bliss Bhangra brings to my life?

Most memorable moment:  I have many memorable moments that are contributed to dancing the “happy dance”.  The most memorable moment has to be performing on stage with my children

Binu Kumar
Principal Dancer

Profession:  Clinical Dietitian
Introduced to Bhangra:  2003
Joined the Company:  Mid 2003

What attracted you to Bhangra:  The spirit of the dance, the music, and the energy. It’s unpretentious, free-spirited, and it does not require years and years of training so anyone can do it.

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  It’s fun, it’s a great workout, it always makes me feel happy, and we are able to share this beautiful dance form with so many different people on a regular basis.

Most memorable moment:  Performing at Stern Grove

Rajni Rao
Principal Dancer

Profession:  Marketing Strategy Director
Introduced to Bhangra:  1999
Joined the Company:  Early 2004

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  I have never had such a positive outlet for my energy before.  Everything in the world melts away when I dance and I get consumed by pure happiness.  I love the vulnerability of bearing my soul when I perform.  Sharing that energy and inspiring diverse audiences to let go to the music and the movement is a rare and precious gift.  I feel blessed to have such a supportive group of women who also put their heart & souls into the dance and share themselves wholeheartedly with one another. This is more than just dance; it is a passion, a love, a family.

Most memorable moment:  This is difficult because we have done a lot of interesting shows!  I think the funniest moment for me was performing at a theater party in front of a room full of clowns.  Just when I thought it could not get any funnier, there was a naked man in the crowd busting out in some intense Bhangra moves!  Now, that was memorable!

Nina Zumel
Principal Dancer

Profession:   Computer Science researcher, small business owner, aspiring writer
Introduced to Bhangra:   Sometime in 2005
Joined the Company:   End of 2006

What attracted you to Bhangra:  The energy and infectious rhythm of the music, the joy of the dance

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  Because dancing makes me happy, and being around people who love dancing makes me happy, and because Dholrhythms is a very special group of women that I’m honored and grateful to be part of.

Most memorable moment:  With the Troupe – Standing on the stage at Stern Grove at the end of “Dhol Jadon Waje” and realizing that the crowd was cheering so loudly that I could barely hear the music. Wow.

Lana Farson
Principal Dancer

Profession:  Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Introduced to Bhangra:  June 2007
Joined the Company:  August 2008

What attracted you to Bhangra:  I started dancing with Dholrhythms as a member of the huge crowd at the Stern Grove summer concert in 2007. I was drawn in and got up to dance in the aisle. I was hooked and haven’t stopped sinceThe movements of Bhangra free up my body and help my brain to relax from too much Western, logical thinking. The sound of the dhol goes through me and resonates in a way that feels like I can get in touch with a deeper and more grounded part of myself.

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  Dancing frees my spirit. Bhangra gives it an extra lift since it’s so invigorating!

Most memorable moment:  I have such great memories of spending 5 days at Kosmos Dance Camp in Cazadero, CA where Dholrhythms was sharing the beauty of Bhangra with hundreds of campers surrounded by nature.

Lisa Hepps
Principal Dancer

Profession:  I operate educational travel programs for university alumni associations, museums and academic non-profit organizations in India and the Middle East.
Introduced to Bhangra:   2005
Joined the Company:  End of 2006

What attracted you to Bhangra:  Ever since I can remember I have been a performer, whether dancing, acting or singing; and every since I can remember I have been attracted to all things Indian, whether film, music, cuisine, culture, history or literature, so the opportunity to combine my two greatest passions was, as they say in Punjabi and Hindi, naseeb! (destiny)

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  Because it makes me happy to perform a dance that is an expression of pure joy and as a community dance, it gives me great pleasure to share this joy with so many people! Besides I get to wear lots of sparkly jewelry.

Most memorable moment:  Probably my first Bhangra performance which was at the annual Trikone Awards dinner – I was feeling a bit nervous but was luckily distracted backstage by a wickedly awesome Rajasthani drag queen!

Michelle Baird
Principal Dancer

Profession:  Nonprofit Development
Introduced to Bhangra:  A former colleague brought me to my first beginning bhangra class with Vicki at Ashkenaz the summer of 2006.
Joined the Company:  Early 2012

What attracted you to Bhangra:  The dhol, the music, the cross between folk tradition and the nightclub scene, and the fact that bhangra is incredibly fun and incredibly aerobic all at the same time.

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  The joy of it.  After years of taking classes and performing, I can honestly say I’ve never left the studio or the stage in a bad mood.  It’s simply impossible.  I can end a session tired, or sweaty, or with sore feet if it’s NonStop, but I always leave blissfully happy.

Most memorable moment:  Dancing at City Hall for the mayor’s inauguration.  I came out onto the balcony to perform and was stunned by how beautiful the rotunda was, how many people were watching, and the fact that I had an opportunity to dance at the inauguration of the first Asian mayor of San Francisco.  That’s a nifty little bit of history to be a part of.

Emily Devenny
Principal Dancer

Profession: Placement Manager at a Private Post Secondary School
Introduced to Bhangra: While doing research for a paper in college, I typed Bhangra into Google and Non Stop Bhangra was top of the search list! I’ve been hooked since the lesson’s first set of eight counts.
Joined the Company: Early 2012

What attracted you to Bhangra:  Everything…the music, the beat, the movement, the community. It’s infectious – resistance is futile

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  I have a creative outlet, I get to meet all sorts of cool people, and perform in all sorts of amazing places and I have an excuse to play dress up. How could I NOT want to be? In the end though, it all comes down to the pure joy of the movement. I can’t help but be happy when I dance.

Most memorable moment:  It’s hard to chose, because every experience is special, but the one moment that stands out in my mind is the first time I performed at Non Stop Bhangra. My introduction to Bhangra was at NSB so to get up on that stage, decked head to toe in sparkles, with biggest smile my face could manage, was an unforgettable feeling. The audience is so supportive. I don’t think we could ask for a better platform to share our love of Bhangra.

Andrea Hirsig
Principal Dancer

Profession: Nightclub manager
Introduced to Bhangra: Attended Vicki’s beginning bhangra class at Ashkenaz on a whim. Knew I was addicted when I then went directly home and spent the next 3 hours watching every single Gurdas Mann video on Youtube.
Joined the Company: Early 2012

What attracted you to Bhangra:  Irresistible music + joyful dancing! Who could say no to that?

What motivates you to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  Simple: love. Love the music, love the dancing, love the sisters & brothers in the Dholrhythms family.

Most memorable moment:  Dancing with a pink gorilla

Mila Raj
Principal Dancer

Profession: Client Services for a financial firm.
Introduced to Bhangra: Officially, 4 years. Unofficially since my first Punjabi house party (about 18 years ago).
Joined the Company:  End of 2006

What attracted you to Bhangra:  It’s quite simple – I love music and I love to dance. I find it both intoxicating and liberating. Whenever I saw Dholrhythms perform, they brought so much energy and exuberance to the event, I thought to myself “I want to be a part of that”. It’s such an integral part of me now, I can’t imagine my life without it.

What motivates me to continue being a “Bhangra-ista”:  Did I mention I love to dance? Seriously, dancing with the troupe has taken on a whole new meaning over the last couple of years. I feel what we are doing with Bhangra is more than providing entertainment. I feel that through Dholrhythms, as well as Non Stop Bhangra, we have created a movement that is bringing people and communities together. I have never been to any dance party where you can see hipsters, hip hoppers, goths, deadheads and traditional indians dancing together. Our audience defies traditional notions of the club demographic. It’s pretty amazing to witness and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Most memorable moment:  Wow, there have been a few. Performing at the Stern Grove Music Festival is definitely up there.