Bhangra Circuit Critiques

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,475
There's been a lot of complaining going on about the state of bhangra these days, but no one has really provided anything constructive to the mix.

1. Stage Markers
Leave the stage markers in kindergarten where they belong. All teams need to learn how to dance on stage without relying on stage markers to hit formations correctly, it's a good skill to have, so learn it and implement it. It also looks kinda dumb when people are pacing off distances to set stage markers before a performance. What bothers me the most is when teams use stage markers to define a smaller dancing area, if you have a 12 person squad you shouldn't be setting a smaller dancing area than most other teams, it's like taking a short cut. It's an obvious method of making the set easier, since formations will take less movement to hit. Teams should be awarded for not using markers and points should be deducted if they dance in a significantly smaller area than the rest of the teams. Stage usage is also important, be as close to the audience as possible, it'll have more impact, it doesn't look as good if a team is dancing 5 feet away from the front of the stage. Own the stage if you want to make an impact on the audience.


2. Extra Dancers
All dancers who do bhangra on stage should be present through the whole set! The gimmick of bringing fresh dancers in from side stage/behind a banner/hidden under something is played out, it's like admitting that you can't finish strong by yourselves and need an extra boost to make the performance hit well. The only exception i see is if you decide to bring in non bhangra dancers as a gimmick, an example would be if you had manpreet and naina pop in and do a segment while everyone does bhangra (don't judge me everyone has a crush on em).

3. Weak Dancers
I've been the weakest dancer on a team and i know how it feels. Being smart enough to admit it is the only way you can get better. People need to not be sensitive and should know when to call someone out if they aren't keeping up; there's a proper way to do this, just talk to the person and point out the flaws, there's also a dickish way to do this, i had a cocky douchebag of a captain tell me to learn how to dance in front of the whole team during a practice once. Everyone knows weak dancers bring down the execution of a set, it's the responsibility of each dancer to know what level they're at and where they need to be, it's the responsibility of the captain(s) to be able to help dancers get better, it's also the responsibility of everyone on the team to help each other out. If a dancer isn't physically fit enough to perform a whole set without slacking, tell them, don't be sensitive about it, the goal is to perform a set you can be proud of, teams shouldn't be proud of sets where they have weak dancers slacking off.


4. Gimmicks
Keep gimmicks quick and well integrated. Use the minimal number of people required for a gimmick. Try to keep gimmicks as simple as possible so not a lot of beats are required for set up/execution. They just look a lot better if they're well integrated into the dancing or if most of the dancers are still dancing while the gimmick is performed. If gimmicks take too long they do mess up the flow of the set and end up looking awkward. I never wanna see another vehicle gimmick ever again, whether it's a truck, car, motorcycle, airplane, or tractor, unless someone decides to ride an actual bail gadda across the stage, in which case the comp is over and they automatically get first place. Also realize that everything is derivative, there is rarely going to be a gimmick that's completely different from everything that's been done before.


5. Dancing
Someone explained something to me when i first started dancing; i was told that they key to doing bhangra is to make it look effortless/relaxed while you're executing energetically. That is how live dancers do bhangra in punjab. They hit everything on point, while executing with high energy, yet their expression never conveys any effort, their motion is always smooth never strained. That is what every dancer should strive towards, bhangra isn't about murdering moves, or doing pataka as if you're being attacked by a swarm of killer bees. Every move has flow, watch live performances and learn how to do the moves correctly, the goal of doing bhangra should be to hit every movement on every beat, stop taking short cuts and not executing moves completely. This is related to dancing speed which is the next topic. People are always going on about nakhra this, grace that, i've never felt that the terms nakhra or grace applied to "proper" bhangra. I prefer the term "chaa" which means passion, or happiness in expressing passion; there are a variety of reasons why people do bhangra, but the main motivation for bhangra should be because it makes you happy and because you have a passion for it. When you dance you should express this chaa and not try to force fake nakhra; doing bhangra isn't about making funny faces when you're doing chaal, or trying to flirt when you're doing jhoomer, or making angry screamo faces when you're doing an ending segment.


6. Speed
Watch saap segment jandhu singha in a music set and in a live set. I absolutely hate how saap jandu singha is done in music sets these days, you can barely tell if people are tapping their feet, they're so caught up in doing it fast and seeing how hard they can clap their saaps. Speed compromises execution, fast moves executed incompletely look so much shittier than slower moves executed completely. But everyone these days thinks that speed=hype, which is wrong, executing moves completely and having impact is what creates hype. I'm not saying dance slow, I'm saying do segments at a proper speed at which all dancers are completing all moves. Proper speed also allows for better extension and better transition from move to move. That transition is key, it's what defines "flow" in a segment, if all the moves are executed in a way that the transitions look effortless/natural.


7. Flow
As stated above flow is defined as how smoothly each move transitions to the next move in a segment. The other type of flow is set flow, how well segments transition from one to another. I like to use live bhangra as a standard for this, except for transitions from prop segments in live sets there's a huge emphasis on minimizing the down time during transitions from one segment to the next, they try to keep the whole set flowing, which is probably easier when the dancing is controlled by a live dhol beat, but there's no reason why music sets shouldn't flow just as well.


8. Style
There are a number of different variations for every bhangra move, these variations, leg motions, arm motions, posture, stance, hand motions, rigidity, softness, are all factors in what we define as style. Every team is entitled to develop their own style, it shows the personality of a team, but no matter what style you have you should still try to do justice to bhangra (see sections 5, 6, and 7). If your style prohibits you from executing moves in a way that transitions don't look awkward, you might want to consider making changes to your style, it's a matter of understanding how you dance and how it'll look on stage.


9. Alcohol
Most people in the circuit drink, most people in the circuit enjoy drinking. Some people in the circuit don't drink and have no interest in ever doing so, the reasons might be personal or religious or they might just not find the thought of being tipsy or drunk very appealing. No matter what the situation don't bug people if they don't drink, don't try to convince them to try it, there's no place for peer pressure bull shit in the bhangra circuit, and don't try to justify alcohol consumption with cultural reasons.


10. Criticism
There's too much fanboy-ism these days, everyone sucks up to everyone else. The more popular you are the less likely you are to be criticized. Everyone's fake or too afraid to call people out or just trying too hard to be friends with everyone. Bhangra is a dance, it's not a tool to be used to develop your ego, if you get compliments, be humble, if you get hated on, don't worry about it because it's probably the product of insecurity. Be appreciative that you get a chance to dance on stage, some of us don't have that luxury. Don't be afraid to criticize people who do a disservice to punjabi culture in any way, whether it's someone disrespecting a pagg on stage or someone yelling out a jakara in a bus full of drunk people after an afterparty. Be smart with criticism, if you feel the need to criticize publicly on btf, realize that you will be called out for it and be prepared to defend yourself.

These are my opinions, there might be some value in them, or they might just be the clueless rantings of someone who doesn't really know anything about bhangra. :eek:

Addendum
11. Mixes
Be aware of what you're dancing to. I've learned a lot from listening to punjabi music, especially listening to folk songs and learning about old stories, but even non punjabi speakers should try to understand what is described in the songs they use for mixes. Just as a set should have proper "flow" so should a mix, there should be an effort put into matching themes of the songs you use in a mix, instead of being all over the place.
 

LasRao

Member
Messages
11
Hahahaha hardeep I love reading every opinionated thing you post and then seeing your disclaimer at the end :)


... But I agree with everything you said, spot on!
 

mithu

Active Member
Messages
793
What does liquor have to to do with anything on stage?
I dont think I've heard anyone drinking before getting on stage.
 

gursh313

Member
Messages
69
hardeep_singh said:
an example would be if you had manpreet and naina pop in and do a segment while everyone does bhangra (don't judge me everyone has a crush on em).

The most honest thing that has ever been posted on BTF.


Well said regarding the other notes.
 

shreeps

Member
Messages
57
Lot of good points here, Hardeep.

hardeep_singh said:
points should be deducted if they dance in a significantly smaller area than the rest of the teams

Just wanted to comment on this specific point. I've danced at competitions where judges did take this into account. I'm not sure if it was on the rubric, but I know that there was some disparity between how much of the stage different teams used, and that came into play for the final placings at that competition. I definitely think this should be considered while judging (at least to some extent), especially since it's typically easier to have more energy throughout a set if you don't have to move as much. That said, for teams that have difficulty finding practice spaces that are as large as stage size, I understand the appeal of not using the full stage (simply because there is no opportunity to get accustomed to dancing in an area that large).
 

sikhunit34

New Member
Messages
77
" bhangra isn't about murdering moves, or doing pataka as if you're being attacked by a swarm of killer bees. " lol
 

kdshah

Member
Messages
39
Just wanted to comment on your first point about markers, Hardeep- (cool post btw, nice way to compile a lot of the complaints we hear)


As much as I love live dancing and as much as my team strives to dance like India teams, one major difference is the issue of formations/markers. I've had multiple people talk to me about this in the past few days so I figure I'd post my thoughts to see how others feel. I'm not someone that talks much about scoring or rubrics cause that's not my teams focus, but I do have some opinions for the sake of argument. Again, I'm commenting only on formations here, not dancing- my opinion on dancing is true to what you're saying in striving to truly understand and execute moves properly, like India teams.


In my opinion, the greatest addition that NA has had in the evolution of bhangra is the use of formations. The circuit has pushed us to have this depth in our sets via formations and visual effect. The creativity, complexity, and artistic ability that formations adds to our sets has really changed the game here. I honestly think this is one major aspect we shouldn't compare to India, because I don't believe it's as big of a deal to them.


Now, since it has become such a big deal in our circuit (though I still believe executing moves properly is most important), I don't see why we should be penalized for using markers. Our circuit expects greatness not only in execution of moves and understanding of the dancing art, but also in visual effect of formations. When we add that element, we're adding a whole new layer of the set to clean. I know with my sets, in every segment, I try to be innovative with formations while maintaining cleanliness. All of the creative and cleanest (formation-wise) teams have all used markers- eg. JJ, PCBCA, UNC, VCU, UVA, FAUJ.


In order for those teams to have shown their creativity, they HAD to be clean. Plenty of teams have had great formation ideas and just been so messy that no one cared for it. If we tried to keep this creativity without markers, and someone was slightly out of spot and the visual effect is lost, wouldn't we lose points? So then aren't we forcing teams to be less creative if we say no markers are allowed? Doesn't that hinder the innovation, creativity, and risks that we strive for?


Why should these teams be penalized for pushing the limits of this new layer of bhangra? Do you really think these teams would be remembered for their creativity and cleanliness if they didn't use markers?


Don't get me wrong- I'm not saying we should be staring at the markers on stage, but if we train with markers and end up being remembered for our formations, why should we be penalized for using them? And what benefit do we get from not using markers?


Thoughts???


On top of this point there's also the logistical issues that our circuit has to deal with in comparison to India:
1. Teams rarely get proper/exact stage dimensions
2. Non-collegiate or academy teams rarely get consistent practice area, making it difficult to just become perfect without markers
3. Dancing multiple comps in a row with different stages makes it difficult to not use markers as a way to adjust and still execute cleanliness
4. Going 12-16 is a different ball game than 8-man live sets
 

Hoya Singh

Member
Messages
126
^Agreed I think in order to hit complex formations, especially for new dancers on collegiate teams, markers are necessary. Often times what will happen is that most people will dance off each other anyways but having the markers as a point of reference is very important when trying to hit exactly what you had in mind. Also, regarding the stage size, setting markers helps you have control over all your formations and how much of the stage you want to use. I don't want my team to have to guess how much of the stage they need to be using - rather I want them to hit the formations we practiced in a set area and focus on the dancing.


Other than that I think you brought some great points Hardeep, especially your comments on dancing flow and set flow.
 

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,475
I agree that markers are helpful for new dancers but i feel that markers are a sort of crutch in the circuit for teams with experienced dancers. Just as choreo takes practice, so do formations and i wouldn't be surprised if teams are capable of hitting formations correctly without the use of markers but they just don't bother to try cuz using them is the norm. i'm not completely certain but i think bhangra idols only allows for props to be placed on stage and those props have to be used in the set otherwise points are deducted, i definitely approve of this because it does force teams to take off the training wheels. competitions should be required to provide stage dimensions well in advance of the comp date and any other stage layout information (monitor placement/curtains/curvature) should also be provided to teams so they can be prepared to utilize the stage correctly. i personally feel that for a team for be considered elite, they should dance without markers, dancers should learn to set formations off of each others positions; the center of stages are generally obvious, and curtains can help set the front plane of the stage. i do believe that 12-16 person teams are fully capable of having complex and creative formations in a set and executing them cleanly without the use of markers. nj warriors didn't use markers in their bbc set.
 

J Wong

Member
Messages
301
mithu said:
What does liquor have to to do with anything on stage?
I dont think I've heard anyone drinking before getting on stage.
you would be surprised.......
 

Nirpaal

Member
Messages
159
hardeep_singh said:
I agree that markers are helpful for new dancers but i feel that markers are a sort of crutch in the circuit for teams with experienced dancers. Just as choreo takes practice, so do formations and i wouldn't be surprised if teams are capable of hitting formations correctly without the use of markers but they just don't bother to try cuz using them is the norm. i'm not completely certain but i think bhangra idols only allows for props to be placed on stage and those props have to be used in the set otherwise points are deducted, i definitely approve of this because it does force teams to take off the training wheels. competitions should be required to provide stage dimensions well in advance of the comp date and any other stage layout information (monitor placement/curtains/curvature) should also be provided to teams so they can be prepared to utilize the stage correctly. i personally feel that for a team for be considered elite, they should dance without markers, dancers should learn to set formations off of each others positions; the center of stages are generally obvious, and curtains can help set the front plane of the stage. i do believe that 12-16 person teams are fully capable of having complex and creative formations in a set and executing them cleanly without the use of markers. nj warriors didn't use markers in their bbc set.

This.
 

siddyp

Tough times never last, but tough people do.
Messages
1,270
KB, you seem to have come a long way. I applaud what you said.

Hardeep:

While I agree with most of what you're saying, some things I'd like to debate:

I don't mind stage markers because formations are an integral part of a routine. I'd rather see teams hit them spot on than be a tad bit off and it looks a little sloppy. Or when a formation has no congruency in spacing across the whole stage. You mention NJ at Boston, and sure when going 16 on a stage of that size, and not doing anything formationally crazy, sure you don't need them. All one needs to know is 'get in this line and stay there.' But If you want to do interesting and hard formations, they only help IMO. You can call using markers non-elite, but some teams have dancers that won't skip school to practice. They'll skip practice to study for tests. What do we do then? Just not compete because we can't use markers and we don't have 12+ hours per week to practice with a full team? Dumb our formations down so we can execute cleanly?
If a comp tells teams not to use them that's fine. And sure, using no markers is great. But having markers only makes teams better. If they still mess up with markers, it shows on score sheets I promise you.

I think speed is great. But I find it hypocritical when people say that they don't like speed because it kills execution, yet loved NJ at Boston. I LOVED NJ at Boston. Their speed was through the roof. People say they executed amazingly, and I agree they did for that set. For the speed they had and how difficult the choreography was, they did well. But NOT to the standard you're setting about completing steps which is what plenty of others on this forum believe. Wanting to see teams complete steps is a fine notion to have, but don't say NJ had great execution when it goes against what you say. (this may not be something you said Hardeep, but others have)

I firmly agree with your comments about showing passion when dancing. But I disagree when you say "bhangra isn't about murdering moves." If the step calls for you to be powerful and manly, bring that out. Accentuate it. If that's the feel of the song and you're doing thappiya, be mean. It makes it look boss. And to me its passion.

You know I'm not attacking you or anyone else. I would love further discussion :)
 

shahrj

Member
Messages
63
Great post Hardeep, lots of solid points and I agree with most of them, but like Kuntal and Sid have said I think markers are crucial to how the circuit has changed from 5-10 years ago --- the level of cleanliness and crispness we see and expect from teams nowadays is almost entirely influenced by the incorporation of stage markers. In an ideal world I'd agree with you, though...if every team had the luxury of practice time + experienced dancers to make it happen, there would be no reason to use markers and they really would be a "crutch". It seems like only independent teams have anything close to that ideal though, and even independent teams have a decent amount of dancer turnover from year to year, probably too much to make not using markers a standard.

Also, there's the fact that if we uniformly got rid of stage markers it would put college/university teams at a huge disadvantage --- these are the teams that experience the most dancer turnover by default, and when you're having to deal with things like finding practice space on campus, dancers having other school obligations, etc it just adds to the struggle. I like to think that college teams have a huge influence on the circuit, as some of the cleanest, most entertaining routines over the last few years have come from college teams...not sure that would be the case without the ability to perfect a set to the extent that markers allow. I guess it also depends on what you look for in a routine, but to me cleanliness is just as important as strong dancing, and one without the other makes even the best set mediocre.
 

sumeetj

Active Member
Messages
631
hardeep we have already talked about your post online and obviously agree (and have always agreed) on alot of the stuff you mentioned - but joining in on the markers discussion (like kuntal, sid, raj have said -)

i think a team who can execute a clean set with complex formations without markers should be rewarded - that takes alot of skill, and if you have the facilities to practice consistently with 12-16 dancers and your dancers are able to judge their place in formations well just by looking at each other via peripherals, thats great and shows alot of talent and hard work

however, coming from the perspective of someone who has had 12 man sets done with <6 people at practice every time, markers are probably the only way for dancers to learn where they should be. there is no guessing based on the other dancer's position, blah blah yall know how it is - so im biased when i say this, but i dont think teams should really be penalized for them - but do i think teams who don't use them should be rewarded? yeah, in the sense that a team without markers can get away with slightly simpler and messier formations but be considered equal to a team with more complex and cleaner formations but with markers.

in regards to bhangra looking effortless, i think yes the dancer shouldnt look like he is straining/dying in the performance (and this isnt a biased notion caus i make some horrible facial expressions that have been captured on camera many times) - but, as we all know bhangra is a dance that came from celebrating something...if you were truly expressing joy, happiness, and celebrating, would you really think "oh i must keep my body calm and refrain from going too wild while i am celebrating this extremely joyous occasion" - no, aside from helping a team look cleaner, i dont see how one can say it is a "law of bhangra" to dance with as little energy as possible but with just enough to complete a move fully. teams like ABC, bhangra knightz, vancity, are examples of teams that go hype the entire performance, and sure maybe at times they lack grace, but there is no doubt that those teams express joy way more than dancers going 60% on stage.

regardless, there are tons of amazing teams who dance with different levels of energy, and are obviously awesome at what tey do and bring in trophies, so im not knocking any of that - obviously i prefer what i prefer but again im biased just like anyone who has ever danced on any team will be - i just addressing some of the things people say are "rules" to follow - good stuff with stimulating a good conversation, alot of people that have posted are really experienced and knowledgeable so its cool to see what they are saying
 

lakha23

ਅਣਖ ਨਾਲ ਜਿਊਣਾ
Messages
201
mithu said:
What does liquor have to to do with anything on stage?
I dont think I've heard anyone drinking before getting on stage.
[/quote


One of our chimta players took a beer on stage, left the stage to get a sip and came back in the ending segment to kill it LOL
 

RsKderpu

Member
Messages
264
No offense to anyone but why does all this matter? If teams are winning by using cones, dancing with uniqueness/odd dancers, gimmicks, etc; let it be. Lately BTF has been a shit show. People making long analysis' about bhangra and attacking each other over critiques. If you don't like the fact that a team won a competition, don't bitch about it or make a long ass thread to clarify things that have been brought up before. Get a team together and go compete.


Plain and simple: shut up and put up.


Sorry about the aggressiveness and language, but seeing all this crap on BTF over the past several weeks has been ruining the purpose of this site.
 

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,475
RsKderpu said:
No offense to anyone but why does all this matter? If teams are winning by using cones, dancing with uniqueness/odd dancers, gimmicks, etc; let it be. Lately BTF has been a shit show. People making long analysis' about bhangra and attacking each other over critiques. If you don't like the fact that a team won a competition, don't bitch about it or make a long ass thread to clarify things that have been brought up before. Get a team together and go compete.


Plain and simple: shut up and put up.


Sorry about the aggressiveness and language, but seeing all this crap on BTF over the past several weeks has been ruining the purpose of this site.
Sup bro, thanks for creating a post that contributes nothing constructive to this discussion. Bro, I honestly didn’t realize that bhangra team’s forum was not the proper place for starting a discussion on topics that people in the bhangra circuit might find useful. Thanks bro for making me aware of my ignorance. In conclusion, bro.
 

jasraj93

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,122
Hoya Singh said:
^Agreed I think in order to hit complex formations, especially for new dancers on collegiate teams, markers are necessary. Often times what will happen is that most people will dance off each other anyways but having the markers as a point of reference is very important when trying to hit exactly what you had in mind. Also, regarding the stage size, setting markers helps you have control over all your formations and how much of the stage you want to use. I don't want my team to have to guess how much of the stage they need to be using - rather I want them to hit the formations we practiced in a set area and focus on the dancing.


Other than that I think you brought some great points Hardeep, especially your comments on dancing flow and set flow.
Not bashing anyone but if your saying markers are necessary for new dancers, personally I don't think that individual is ready for a competition. Judges are judging the performance such as moves, nakreh formations etc. Markers are kind of cheating in my perspective, if you wanna use markers use instruments that you could later incorporate during the set, but having orange pylons kind of takes away from the performance. That's just my 2 cents.
 

gursh313

Member
Messages
69
sumeetj said:
i think a team who can execute a clean set with complex formations without markers should be rewarded - that takes alot of skill, and if you have the facilities to practice consistently with 12-16 dancers and your dancers are able to judge their place in formations well just by looking at each other via peripherals, thats great and shows alot of talent and hard work



jasraj93 said:
Not bashing anyone but if your saying markers are necessary for new dancers, personally I don't think that individual is ready for a competition. Judges are judging the performance such as moves, nakreh formations etc. Markers are kind of cheating in my perspective, if you wanna use markers use instruments that you could later incorporate during the set, but having orange pylons kind of takes away from the performance. That's just my 2 cents.

If a team does formations without markers, and does hit them as clean as another team with markers, they should be rewarded for it, but teams using them shouldn't be penalized for them. Sumeet brought up the point where teams aren't always able to have practice with all 12 people. As he said, sometimes practice would be held with 6 people. People got jobs, school, and other respsibilties that keep them from spending more time with bhangra. My own practices for BBC were difficult because we only had a single 12 man practice, where the rest included 9 or 10. Markers come into play here, setting gaps and letting dancers know where they should be gives these teams a greater opportunity to do well at comps.


If more comps start stressing that they'll reward teams significantly for performing without markers, it may steer towards a future without markers. There are some comps in the fusion circuit that disqualifies teams for using markers, we're not going to be like that anytime soon.
 

Sawhill69

Member
Messages
189
hardeep_singh said:
i'm not completely certain but i think bhangra idols only allows for props to be placed on stage and those props have to be used in the set otherwise points are deducted, i definitely approve of this because it does force teams to take off the training wheels.

Yeah because of that rule, the way we used "markers" were to strategically (with formations) place our saaps, khunde and katos in certain spots on the stage to act as markers after we finished using them in the set. I think more people should do this instead of just chucking the props on stage, or sliding them off the stage, might as well use the props to your full advantage.
 
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