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qualifications for judging?


♥ BTF ♥
Staff member
Excellent topic - happy to see it sparked something for BTF members and "guests" to read and share their experiences. To avoid a potential headache for mods: no problem with publicly calling out judges or competitions for being unfair/disorganized/etc, but let's just not make the attacks personal. It's a fine line.

Always nice to see numbers like these:

~ Basim :)

P.S. - @Union of Bhangra Judges @mafzal
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Active Member
I think this definitely brings up an issue of how new judges can start their judging career. There's definitely gonna be a point where the well respected judges that we all like are gonna stop judging...what happens then? If we don't open the door to newer judges then I feel like it will become difficult for competition boards to find someone that EVERYONE deems qualified to come. Like what people stated above, it really shouldn't be about judging experience but more your qualifications as a dancer/leader in the circuit.

On another note:
I had the chance to work with Mela's board this year and help give them ideas on who to reach out to for bhangra judges. They really made a genuine effort to contact all the judges I recommended to them but they ran into a lot of issues with those judges being busy, dancing themselves/being associated with teams that were dancing, being out of town, etc. But at the end of the day we were able to find judges that all of the teams (I think :) ) were satisfied with. Point is - more of an effort definitely needs to be made by competition boards.

P.S. I would love to see more female judges, where y'all at ?


Today is a gift

  1. Lack of female judging is alarming. It speaks a lot to how the dynamics are when it comes to running teams (my opinion), but that brings up a lack of diversity in thought
  2. Nothing is going to get done from this - there are no movements, initiatives, or ideas that are far reaching enough to manage or legislate this across the circuit.
  3. This is probably grassroots and will need to focus on smaller comps if its going to happen - probably makes sense that some organization manages this at a grass roots level
  4. The reasons for rejecting some judges are plainly ridiculous, but they will continue to happen if just a rubric is used - people have been gaming his system for years.
  5. Ultimately you want newer judges. Fresh perspective, when well thought out, makes it so worth it for teams. Holy crap have some feedback sessions I have been on have been bad - mostly because judges can't communicate properly in a way that explains to the team
a) why I got what I got (subjective)
b) why the team that won won (again subjective)
c) what can I do to improve (objective)


Active Member
Why not have a BTF phone app that allows you to vote for your preferred judges? So a comp can say hey we have this comp, here are the judges, please apply.

Then, the phone app will have a way where the judges are listed, and you can simply rank them from 1-5 (1 being terrible, 5 being amazing). Then, the rankings are continuously updated by the BTF moderators (except for those who may be judging said comp, for which they will be deemed to have a conflict of interest) so the public can see. Then, teams can evaluate whether they want to apply by viewing said judges rankings.


Well-Known Member
the difficulty in getting a good judging panel comes down to logistics and money. competitions usually don't fully cover all the costs associated with judges travel and hotel, so it can be difficult to convince good judges to come to a comp if they have to cover a significant portion of the cost themselves. most of the people running bhangra comps don't really understand bhangra very well and aren't well suited to determine how to build a good panel. also union of bhangra judges won't solve a thing, i've heard plenty of negative feedback about kuntal and mariam as judges.

to have a strong judging panel you need:
  1. good mix of men and women judges
  2. judges from variety of locations, the reason it is important to get judges from various locations is due to the distinct styles of bhangra formulated in each region and the difference in perspective it would provide.
  3. judges who understand punjabi language/music or at least have a decent understanding of punjabi culture
  4. judges who genuinely are passionate about providing constructive feedback and realize the impact proper judging has on developing teams. this takes effort to determine.
  5. at least one judge on the panel should have experience dancing live bhangra or have experience coaching kids
  6. it's also good to have judges who have danced with different types of teams, all guy, coed, and all girl. the sets for each type of team can be constructed differently so having judges who have experienced that first hand is very useful.
  7. judges who are capable of being analytical/unbiased and are capable of judging without ignorance. ignorance and bias has been a significant issue in the past due to unqualified uncles and aunties judging.
Another necessary requirement for good outcome:
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I haven't posted much on BTF before, but this post really made me want to respond since I've been thinking about some of the issues with judging in the circuit for a while...

1) Often it seems as though judges seem to have some connection to the teams competing - anywhere from having danced with that team, to being an old captain, to making their mix, etc. These individuals are the ones that likely have the most qualifications to judge, so it makes sense for comp boards to choose them. However, it does present a conflict of interest and I think competition boards should make sure to do their due diligence on ALL judges, even clearly qualified ones, and think through the potential biases a judge might have based on the competitions lineup and how that might affect the fairness of the competition. Judges should be honest about any affiliation they may have to team's that are competing and competition boards should relay this information to teams. To reiterate, I don't think that these judges should not be able to judge, but there needs to be more transparency about these types of conflicts so a dialogue can be had between teams and competition boards.

2) It feels like qualified judging panels all end up being the same few faces coming from a limited diversity of teams, because those teams/individuals have become "power players" in the circuit. This contributes to the fact that there is a severe under-representation of women judges in the circuit - even though there are so SO many qualified women dancers that can judge. By having these same few faces from the same few teams, we end up pushing the circuit to assume one style that rewards doing the same things well rather than experimenting and rewarding unconventional forms of power/grace/nakhre/form. Often it feels that bhangra is valued as a sport, rather than a form of art, which causes us to lose sight of how to appreciate individuality. And going back to the point about a lack of women judges, this brings us to a chicken or the egg dilemma. Often, women dancers are not valued or appreciated in the same way due to the strict way bhangra is interpreted. This then ends up making it harder for women dancers to become judges and change the discourse of what else can and should be valued.

Anyway, really like where this thread is going and I feel like big things are on the horizon for the circuit. Hoping this post encourages more females and people who aren't necessarily active on BTF but active in the circuit to give their two cents. :)
Hey guys! Our team wishes to stay anonymous but we really wanted to speak on behalf of one our judges at our last comp, Vice City Bhangra Competition. Amrita Vadhera might be a new judge, but all of her feedback was consistent with that of the other experienced judges at Vice, including Vikram, Sahil and Akash. After the competition, we reached out to all of the judges for feedback on our set and Amrita's was by far the most helpful. She went above and beyond, and sent us a TON of feedback that we could implement to make our set better for our next competition. We have already implemented a lot of her feedback into our set and have gotten very positive feedback from it. We weren't even a winning team, but I think all the winning teams at Vice and Blitz would say the same about her. I copy pasted some of her feedback to us so y'all can see exactly how extra she was in this (the good kinda extra).

-1:27 & 1:17 moves like these are what we consider "creative choreography" or "wow" moments in your set. This is however useless unless you put in adequate energy to execute these moves properly. Executing and having impactful energy at these points (also at drops) for example is what makes you stand out and helps us remember your set versus others. At 1:27 specifically, make sure you bend your back leg more and really sit then pop your front leg's knee up high each time after tapping down during the charge forward. I want to see crazy energetic facials here as well. So many people were slacking here and it's a shame that didn't hit!
-Watch pink girl owning it at 1:54. Imagine if the whole team executed "wow" factor moves like this!!
-2:11 missing modhe again. Knees need to be up way more for everyone. This is the very beginning of khunde. Not how you want to start a segment.
-2:25 watch green's power here and match that. Again, these are moments un your set to own and make exciting for us by exerting more energy and power.
-2:49 need to all match jugni heights. Look at how low cyan girl is versus pink girl to the extreme right who is just standing.
-3:07 don't hunch when squatting down. Chest out and backs straight!
-Pause the video at 3:57. Everyones angles are different. Need to match (this consistently happens in the set).


i dont know the details of bhangra blitz or any other comps amrita judged at, nor can i speak to her resume - however, she did reach out to me (and a few others, i believe) before she started her judging career to get advice on what to look for, how to provide the best feedback, and other tips to become an effective judge. at the very least, i think that shows she wants to be a good, fair judge in the circuit. hopefully everyone involved in the situation can work it out respectfully and in a positive manner so that they all benefit from a learning experience.

on another note, i do think there is an ongoing issue with getting "qualified" judges. for me, the problem stems from the fact that the circuit seems to shun "uncle" judges from competitions. true, there are some uncles who give bakwaas feedback and have a backward mentality (especially towards females doing Bhangra) - but there are those who are literally a gold mine of knowledge, know how to effectively communicate and express their ideas, and could contribute so damn much to the circuit. how many of the judges in today's circuit can describe the basic story of mirza, why/what the mirza's dhol rhythm sounds like, and understand why you do the 1/2/3 leg movement before you "roll"? how many judges understand the 4 types of dhamaal, the differences between each one, and why they typically have a certain order/build up? hell, how many judges (myself included) can even fathom doing a basic chaffa as graceful as amrinder gill at :22 in this video LOL:
these aren't questions to measure how folk you think you are, nor are they an attempt to put anyone down; rather, the answers are explanations and reasons for why certain steps, segments, and rhythms are executed in a certain way. it takes years and years to learn...makes you think about what "qualified" really means.

my solution is that comps should go out of their way to find a balanced (gender, age, and experience) panel of both circuit dancers and individuals with credentials in performing/teaching folk bhangra. there are more than enough great candidates in both categories who have open minds, can effectively analyze performances, and provide helpful feedback for teams to get better and thrive. just as much as we need the essence of bhangra from the "uncles", we need the creativity of NA dancers who have helped push the boundaries and taken bhangra to new heights. if any competitions need names, happy to help.

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Active Member
You only need one thing: Do not apply to competitions unless they do not reveal the judging panel and rubric during the application process.

FACTS. Comps really need to start providing info about the judging panel either before the app comes out or with it. With so much subjectivity in deliberation I think knowing who is judging you is nearly as important as the rubric (especially with the same judges at multiple comps).

Mysterious Placing

New Member
Great discussion in my honest opinion. But calling out one person on the basis of a placing is not right. One particular person on this forum is just calling out Amrita because she is salty that her team didn't win or placed second. Amrita in my opinion is more than well qualified for judging based on her character, and her response to this post it's clear she is the real deal. I say instead of bashing one person why don't you all go clean up your formations and bring an actual set that's not boring someone to death at a comp. It's not Amrita's fault you took the set lightly thinking it was gonna place first. Rmr its not always automatic at these lower level comps. :) Anyways no harsh feelings to anyone. Just my particular opinion on this matter.


Active Member
Sorry for any grammatical errors, but here’s my take.

The state of judging in the US circuit is in poor hands because there is a lack of due dilligence from certain competitions to actually invest in the one thing that matters at a “competition”, and dancers who are entitled now more than ever based on “resumes” lol. Judging used to be merit based, what you did mattered for something. Set creation, design, placings* and being a leader of a placing set which presented intricacy balancing all elements of a rubric anywhere. Not to mention being able to not only articulate your point of view, but to back it up with substantial evidence. The system of selection is yes broken to a certain extent, but it isn’t due to the lack of presence to something such as UBJ, it’s certain competitions pretty much thinking either with their pockets or lack of experience from a board prespective. It is sad to hear what has been going on with teams as of recent, lol but getting dicked over at competitions, or feeling like your getting dicked over due to a lack of transparency has been happening since time. Being vocal about it is great but in all honesty, the way to fix this is by, one holding competitions responsible for who they’re selecting, and selecting to go to competitions based on having a discussion that you are dealing with adequate organizers, before the fact.

Ideally, it would be wonderful to know what a judging lineup is, before you apply to a competition. How many times have you spoken to an organizers with the discussion going “ Well we’re almost there, we’re just working on this one last judge...”, just a few weeks before the competition? Now this is tough for competitions I understand, but a competition is like a good restaurant in my opinion, if things are working behind the scenes in the kitchen, service will follow. Make sure your prep is done accordingly so that all people have to do, is be put into position, and you can have a beautiful night.

In regard to the inadequacy of judging recently, people nowadays are also willing to get to competitions on their own budgets which is opening doors for anybody to apply and just fly out for the sake of a judging. And it should go without saying, you should be a good dancer, teammate, captain or coach, before you even get considered for judging at a competition. And this shouldn’t just be from a “Google Form”, that your getting this information. Stop listening to the support of judges through social media influencers, and just other names on a referenced list. How about interview the individual and reference other credible individuals in the circuit who want to see it keep giving back to our community so we can get it right?

I appreciate everybody responding on this thread as it will get better, this is cyclical, every few years some shit happens and teams are up in arms about “Judging reform in NA”. Crappy comps shouldn’t be the reason you stop doing what you do, but on the team side, I recommend not being surprised when judgment or placings happen without trying everything before that Saturday or Sunday night of the comp to get it right.

Stay driven, keep positive, have a voice.
Over & Out
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Great discussion in my honest opinion. But calling out one person on the basis of a placing is not right. One particular person on this forum is just calling out Amrita because she is salty that her team didn't win or placed second. Amrita in my opinion is more than well qualified for judging based on her character, and her response to this post it's clear she is the real deal. I say instead of bashing one person why don't you all go clean up your formations and bring an actual set that's not boring someone to death at a comp. It's not Amrita's fault you took the set lightly thinking it was gonna place first. Rmr its not always automatic at these lower level comps. :) Anyways no harsh feelings to anyone. Just my particular opinion on this matter.
Lol if you’re gonna call me out, the least you can do is not hide behind a fake name. :)


Well-Known Member
I feel like I’ve been reading the same thread since 2007!

Judging is pathetic. Comps are cheap. They don’t get the best possible judges. I feel for teams but this has been said in the past- BOYCOTT COMPS COLLECTIVEY UNTIL THEY GET THEIR SHIT RIGHT.