Lack of diversity in judges


dheerja said:
Understand where you're coming from Swi/Faizan, but I think I was looking more removed than that. What about parents in the community? I know plenty of people whose parents did bhangra/giddha back in India and love going to competitions in their area. And in terms of ex-dancers, I really don't see any dancers from the pre-2005 era dancing or involved any more. (I think Faizan and I are some of the few left :) )
I'm a budhi, but I'm still here. :)


Ehhh Folllkkkkkk Ahhh !!
After reading some of the posts from the members of Bhangra Community, I would like to share my experience judging with Uncles/Aunties:

a) They hardly follow the competition rubric to decide the final placings.

b) The feedback given to the teams is irrelevant to their performance or sometimes they have not much to say in the feedback sessions.

Dheerja brings up a great point that we should select judges from the West Coast but majority of those judges tend to lean towards traditionality/folk performances to decide the placings. This is a general question for all the teams: Would you rather have a judge that follows the rubric or who doesn't care about anything unless but Folk/Traditional?

If any competition organizers need a "Fresh" list of judges, feel free to contact me and I'll have some recommendations for you.


Active Member
Mariam said:
Arjun Banerjee should judge
haha thanks yo, I'd love to eventually. you should too, when we dont dance anymore :( how many years inactive makes us eligible? :)


the nocal aunty/uncle judges are with out a doubt more traditionally biased. The socal judges (i guess Bruin and even Socal Bhangra back in the day) were also a mix of aunties and uncles who are involved in local gurdwaras or organizations that are teaching kids now or have danced in the past. True there have been discrepancies in placings but for the most part I feel like its worked for the nature of the socal bhangra scene.

socal is notoriously known for modern bhangra or teams that cater solely to pleasing the audience and in a sense the judges are part of the audience and go off the entertainment factor. So in an ideal sense with the aunty/uncle judges if you have part norcal judges and part socal judges you should be set to go if they can meet in the middle.

on the argument that they dont understand gimmicks or trends, should we even be doing gimmicks that limits the target audience in half? if the judges dont get it then neither do the older generations in the audience.

btw great topic dheerja!


Ok so it looks like I was somewhat off on my impression of the Cali judging scene, but that's mostly because it's based off my experiences competing in Cali. The only competition that I think has consistently been 100% on point in judging is Bruin the past few years. It appreciates modern and traditional (VDW and APD placed in 2010).

Regardless of how much the BTF community agrees with placings, I think there is a much larger issue with Northeast judging. I completely disagree with a lot of the posters here that are recommending people who are currently active in the community. Like I said in my original post, the current people that are judging east coast competitions are extremely knowledgeable and very fair when it comes to the way they judge teams. HOWEVER, I think it's inherently impossible to fairly judge a team if you've seen their last 4 performances on YouTube, know their dancers, and have favorites of your own. For anyone active right now that WILL be the case, and we're back in the same boat.

I think we're missing a pretty large number of people who danced pre-2005 who aren't currently active but are still perfectly capable of judging traditional and modern teams. I've suggested at least 5-6 people on the east coast who would be perfect for this role - they danced both traditional and modern bhangra, and have a great sense of what makes a solid routine, etc. They aren't consistently involved in the bhangra scene/BTF, but do occasionally attend competitions in their areas. However these people were never considered because competitions these days are too scared of the BTF community to bring in someone that isn't already widely accepted. I also completely understand the arguments against uncles/aunties but you cannot tell me that anyone over the age of 30 is crazy and incapable of understanding how to judge a competition these days.

Cali people - can any of you list out the Bruin judges from the past 2 years and what their backgrounds are? I'd love to see since I believe they were a combination of older dancers and aunties/uncles.


New Member
I think a good idea would be for competitions to make a conscious effort to select judges OUT of their region. Here's what I mean: maybe Boston Bhangra could select their teams initially, finalize the teams from various areas, and then select judges WHO ARE NOT from those areas. If the majority of the teams are from the Northeast and Canada and you have 1 team (Empire) coming in from California, I'd say it's fair to select your core of judges (3 at least) from another part of the west coast and midwest. This does several things:

1) Teams will not know who these people are based on a consistent per/competition basis. Uncertainty will make teams work! They will have to work harder to bring a better performance to the event, because a universal truth holds strong: first impressions will last forever. I'm pretty sure if teams see the same judges at a competition, they are going to cater the style those judges prefer OR even worse, do the bare minimum to improve their previous performances based on previously given criticism and suggestions from that familiar panel.

2) Judges can be exposed to a marathon of very different styles of technique in a very different atmosphere compared to what they usually see where they are originally from. If some judges from Seattle have NEVER seen Northeastern Bhangra or First Class Bhangra, they are going to be more engaged in what they see. They will value what they are judging with more genuine appeal. This doesn't mean everyone get's a higher score, this just means that the score earned by each "foreign" team will be an honest assessment based on tenets of the rubric and opinion. If you have 3 judges, 2 from Seattle and 1 from Chicago looking at the same 8 teams that night, the chances of all of them being incredibly harsh or incredibly generous will not be high. They will have to realize they can't give EVERY team an extreme score. They will temper their mentality and simply observe and score. yes, you run the risk of having every team exposed to really personal criticisms and suggestions of those out-of-town judges, but that's what judging is anyway.

What say you BTF?


New Member
Also I think the template to judge needs to change. When you watch a set, you watch it completely, you take in the whole picture. You don't sit there and follow a checklist and then compartmentalize. You notice general things as a whole. Any good judge is going to see the clear winner right off the bat, EVEN WHEN it seems really close.


Tough times never last, but tough people do.
regarding active members of the bhangra scene judging:

If he or she carries them self credibly, they know that any team can go in on any night and beat any team regardless of who that team may be. Even if you know every dancer and love their performances, you should be able to judge based on what happened in those 8-9 mins on stage that evening VS the other teams performances.
Never in your mind should you be like "I know what this was supposed to be so i'll give it to them." a credible person will say they didn't hit it today so dock points or its not gonna help them in the end.

Judges that I think would be great additions to a panel: Shaunjeet Gill, Harjeet Mangat, Vineet Agrawal. All have been out of the scene for a bit but are very knowledgeable when it comes to bhangra and what a great set should look like and how it should be executed. I have contact info for all three if anyone is interested.


Let the music move you!!!!!
I agree with my brother Siddarth. And Nikhil nailed it, getting judges from other regions would definitely make judging more credible.

And I would add Arjun Barua and Jaggi Singh to the list of active dancers who can be judges. Both gentlemen have years of experience when it comes to modern/trad-music/live. And both in my opinion have highly credible reputations as individuals who can criticize constructively and give their honest opinions. And that's what judges are supposed to do right, constructively criticize? So yea, add Jaggi and Arjun to that list.


Today is a gift
I think, another thing that would help judging, would be be to ask a judge what performance he/she/it has liked in the past year. Yes, understandable that they shouldnt watch videos, but they should be current to the trends and style of the current season of bhangra(based, I guess, on the previous year). Someone with familiarity would be awesome to have.

A lot of us here, I also see, are afraid of bias in judging. I don't care as much about it, but when competitions start selling judging panels based on the lack of bias...well I think thats when your running into trouble. It should be less about the bias and more about the qualifications. Your going to, with any credible judge, have SOME sort of bias. I think the community at large presents a stigma to control bias. I.E., if someone retired from Team A but was friends with a lot of people from Team B and C, they would still judge them properly based on the rubric due to the ability to critique this person here and in person by the community.

My biggest question is why don't these judges post on videos of up and coming teams. A LOT of teams come on here for criticism, and very few of it is done on thread(a lot via pm). Could these people provide feedback on the thread? It helps to actually practice the concept of judging, and provide a thread to show to others how they would judge.


Active Member
BUMP BUMP BUMP! please do not let these ideas die! too often we discuss great thigns on btf and it just fades. LET THIS GO SOMEWHERE!


Just shut up and dance
it's time for organizers to read this and act, otherwise, it will be difficult to make moves...let's see which organizers stepup, and which want to continue the status quo...


Well-Known Member
I love the idea of having 'out of region judges' who have not been active for the past few years. For a competition in the east they have many choices of judges in vancouver, who are 1) not active, 2) not aunties/uncles, 3) early 30's 4) can give you feedback in english/ understand gimmicks

Shauna Pears, Mandeep Patrola/Karen Mander- UBC Girls

Lucky Toor, Sonia Toor, Raakhi Sinha- VIBE

If you are looking for judges with a mixture of live and music experience then United Bhangra would be the best. Almost all of these guys at one point danced on VIBE, United (live) and Paar Club (live)

Gurp Sian, Nin (dholi), Jora Nijjer, Raja N, - United Bhangra.


New Member
Bhangra has been growing rapidly in the past decade. It's a good thing that this issue was brought up to everyone's attention.

Ideas and Such:

1. If there are live teams performing at a competition, make sure the judges adequately know how to judge a live set. Some judges have never judged a live set in their career. Maybe having someone experienced could give them assistance.
2. There should be some kind of a standardization of judging- maybe a generic guide or a ‘how to’ manual on judging. Some may argue that judging is easy but, if you get down to the nitty gritty details of judging there may be discrepancies within the judging panel.
3. Going back to the idea of standardization of judging, I think there should some kind of standardization of limits, like what things do you absolutely not want happening on stage. WHAT would murder the whole routine?
4. An idea would be to have this generic list of major do’s and do not’s of bhangra on competition websites. So that when teams do apply to compete, they know how to make their sets.
5. Dancer’s sometimes don’t keep account of what things are bhangra no-no’s. Often teams go into competitions wondering ‘Will I get points docked off for this attire?’ or ‘Will I get points deducted for doing this move?’ or ‘will it be inappropriate to do this on stage?’ My firm belief is that teams shouldn’t be worrying about the points they may be penalized for but, rather they should be thinking about perfecting their routine. It would be pretty efficient to have teams send in any questions or concerns they have to the selected panel of judges. That way they could get any worries out of the way. So a team doesn’t go to a competition wondering, MAN I wish we didn’t do that move or use that prop.
6. I think there should be some kind of limit to how many competitions a judge could do a year. Not trying to mess up your judging careers. But, having the same judges at every east-coast competition you go to isn’t always a plus. The whole mentality ‘oh they used bits and pieces of their blowout set, or the only thing they did was change their khunda segment’.
7. In some cases there are some organizers who don’t know much about bhangra. By having some kind of standardization it could help judges out and lost organizers.

Sorry I didn't go back and revise it. So don't change the whole thread around to - HOW to fix all of Sonia's mistakes. :) Please stay on topic <3