Single Step Jhoomer Technique

ratanrandhawa

New Member
Messages
9
Hi everyone!!

Can someone talk me through perfect technique for a single step jhoomer? I've seen that some teams execute it with the leading leg falling on the heel and some on the ball of the foot. I find that both look good but ideally I want it to be done as it's meant to be done.

It seems like quite a small issue but I find that my team doesn't look as good because half have become used to one version while the other half are doing the other.

Thanks in Advance :D
 

J Wong

Member
Messages
301
I personally prefer using the ball of my foot as I think it looks and feels better. As for how its meant to be done, I have seen live teams use the ball of their foot, I think heel is mostly a western thing.
 

mrchicity

Active Member
Messages
329
I think my team (UVA) got points taken off at BIB 3 for doing jhummar on our heels, but that was 3 years ago. I don't think they said anything about JJ doing jhummar on heels at Elite though, so it may just be a moot point.
 

lavesh

Member
Messages
421
from what ive learned, depends where ur from in punjab...using the toe is supposed to mimic dancing horses (Horse Dance Punjab - India) and apparently comes from balochistan...others regions use their heels

don't know how accurate that is, but this is what i have got from aggregating and connecting information from multiple sources/people
 
Messages
237
"Jhummar" that's being done in the context of contemporary North American circuit bhangra is not a "traditional" (i.e. historical, regionally-distinct Punjabi) jhummar style.


It is what it is. I am not criticizing it. Much.


But one has to be clear about what one is hoping to achieve. You can have a discussion about how the foot is placed in traditional jhummars of Punjab -- and yes, it varies between regionally different styles. But then, why stop there? In the process of learning that answer -- learning an accurate answer -- you'll find that other aspects of the traditional jhummars are different. Will you also correct those aspects, within the bhangra routine? A can of worms you may not want to open!


It seems absurd -- if it's true -- that some bhangra teams would get docked points by judges for placing their feet the "wrong" way in their jhummar. I can pretty much guarantee that those judges themselves were wrong, and they have no business being judges if that is the way it's going to be.


North American dancers, as with other things, will decide for themselves what they consider to be their "standard" jhummar technique.


If you do decide to go for the exploratory route, my dissertation contains 147 pages of info on jhummar.
http://bhangrateamsforum.com/discuss/main-bhangra-discussion/major-publication-on-dhol-punjabi-dances-musicians-culture/


Even better, there are now dozens of videos on YouTube that show traditional-styles jhummars
-- stuff I did not have at my disposal (but wish I did) when I was doing the fieldwork for my dissertation. Just watch the Pakistani ones. The Indian ones are mostly nonsense.


I'll say in brief that the stepping on the heel was long established as THE jhummar step IN BHANGRA, i.e. when a FACSIMILE of jhummar was put in bhangra (somewhere circa 1961, can't remember exactly). That's how Indian stage bhangra dancers did their jhummar up until the 1990s or later. However, the similarly INVENTED, STAGE style of jhummar constructed by Baba Pokhar Singh, which was around for decades but only got really really popularized after 2000, used the step at the ball of foot. This revolutionized dance in the media. Everyone started copying it, and a lot of people did a really crappy job. They were trying to do jhummar with the feeling/energy of bhangra. Before you know it (sometime around 2002-2004), this bastardized jhummar was all over the TV and people were shoving more and more jhummar-related stuff into their "bhangra" routines. Some people did this in a careful way, true to Pokhar Singh's group's style, and others just went through the motions (raise my hands here, swing them there, etc) and didnt give a crap about the fine points of the style.


Unfortunately, this kind of lame-ass jhummar (depending...) got locked into the current bhangra routine just before N.A. teams had their YouTube moment and started trying to imitate "traditional" (i.e. modern as hell) bhangra.


EDIT:
To elaborate on the last point: Up until 2000-ish (give or take a few years, depending on how much in the loop you were), most bhangra teams / coaches / dholis (non-Bazigars) in Indian Punjab didn't have much of clue about jhummar. They just knew the 1 or 2 routine steps that were fixed in the stage bhangra set since the 60s. But at the turn of the millennium, everyone became "aware" of jhummar in the form of Pokhar Singh and as that became a fad, promoted by Pammi Bai, etc. Everyone and his brother became an "expert" on jhummar then. So anyone who says they know "proper" jhummar after that point should be viewed with suspicion. Chances are that what they actually mean is that they (like others) learned a homogenized fad-jhummar and because they consider you to be a novice or an outsider they have free reign to teach it as though they had authoritative knowledge! Buyer beware.
 

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,468
Gabbah Shareef Bhalwan said:
Unfortunately, this kind of lame-ass jhummar (depending...) got locked into the current bhangra routine just before N.A. teams had their YouTube moment and started trying to imitate "traditional" (i.e. modern as hell) bhangra.


EDIT:
To elaborate on the last point: Up until 2000-ish (give or take a few years, depending on how much in the loop you were), most bhangra teams / coaches / dholis (non-Bazigars) in Indian Punjab didn't have much of clue about jhummar. They just knew the 1 or 2 routine steps that were fixed in the stage bhangra set since the 60s. But at the turn of the millennium, everyone became "aware" of jhummar in the form of Pokhar Singh and as that became a fad, promoted by Pammi Bai, etc. Everyone and his brother became an "expert" on jhummar then. So anyone who says they know "proper" jhummar after that point should be viewed with suspicion. Chances are that what they actually mean is that they (like others) learned a homogenized fad-jhummar and because they consider you to be a novice or an outsider they have free reign to teach it as though they had authoritative knowledge! Buyer beware.
gibb your comments are always legit. i do have some points of contention, especially with respect to the comparison between modern "lame-ass" jhummar and real traditional pakistani jhummar. based on watching some videos of pakistani jhummar, my opinion is that it is meant to be stand alone dance and seems like it would be pointless to adapt it to stage form of bhangra in it's original form.

repetitive 8 beat sequence done at varying speed in a circle of people. makes me think of some garba sequences i had some exposure to recently.
Saraiki Jhoomar(Dance).....flv

in a sense i'm glad modern bhangra jhummar is so different because adapting this form of original jhoomer would seem to contradict the "spirit" of the traditional form of the dance. modern bhangra jhoomer seems "optimized" for stage performance, entertainment, and allows for the addition of boliyan and lyrics; i don't know enough about pakistani jhoomer to know whether singing is ever done on the dhol beat. from the dhol beat thats used in the video i posted of pakistani jhoomer i don't know if trying to do traditional punjabi boliyan would be possible or even sound good if possible.

JHOOMER - SARBJIT CHEEMA

i disagree with your opinion that modern jhummar is "lame-ass"; in my opinion it adds value to bhangra set, it might have nothing in common with traditional pakistani jhummar but as a dance itself i find it very entertaining. can't speak for everyone but some of us really enjoy dancing this lame-ass jhummar and listening to lame-ass jhummar tracks. :p
 

Govind

Member
Messages
364
the above posters have belabored the point that what we perform on stage has little resemblance to the original folk dances as performed off-stage. despite this, i think modern teams have done a fantastic job incorporating creative elements into jhummar and adapting the dance into something that is visually appealing and, by virtue of being a team dance... synchronized. indeed, we have established our own norm and standard of what is acceptable stylistically...and yes that is an arbitrary norm.

to answer your question, i have never penalized a team for using either heel or ball of foot in single step jhummar. stylistically, i prefer the ball of the foot and that is how i learned it. also, there are other moves that i perform using my heel, simply because i prefer it stylistically when putting together a routine and it also helps to avoids redundancy in a stage routine. one approaches judging with the understanding that there are various interpretations/adaptations of these dances which will permit variations between teams. things i do look out for when i refer to 'good jhummar form' (which indeed includes stylistic methods of my and other judges' preferences) are synchronized arm positions (high up, not sagging), no elbow bouncing, synchronized hand positions, that jhummar is performed not standing straight up but in a pseudo second-position plie, generally less mechanical and more fluid motions (e.g. depending on the move being performed, it should not be apparent that you are necessarily dancing to an exact count, but still synchronized), and completeness of moves (i.e. ensuring everyone's arms move the full range to which you have choreographed, for example, i see incompleteness very often when teams do claps, or the last 2 count of the traditional babeyan da jhummar step).

i guess we have to realize that it is equally nonsensical to compare what we do to the video of the guys above, b/c a stage adaptation undoubtedly morphs the dance and brings rigidity to the type and style of moves.

any other thoughts? curious to hear your guys' opinions here...
 

Arjun Barua

Member
Messages
650
Wonderful discussion! Now I remember why I love BTF!


Let's strive to have more discussions like this. I'm sure many people have similar questions about bhangra like the original poster. Go ahead and ask! The sharing of knowledge and ideas is what BTF is all about.
 

Saab

Today is a gift
Messages
991
hardeep_singh said:
Gabbah Shareef Bhalwan said:
Unfortunately, this kind of lame-ass jhummar (depending...) got locked into the current bhangra routine just before N.A. teams had their YouTube moment and started trying to imitate "traditional" (i.e. modern as hell) bhangra.


EDIT:
To elaborate on the last point: Up until 2000-ish (give or take a few years, depending on how much in the loop you were), most bhangra teams / coaches / dholis (non-Bazigars) in Indian Punjab didn't have much of clue about jhummar. They just knew the 1 or 2 routine steps that were fixed in the stage bhangra set since the 60s. But at the turn of the millennium, everyone became "aware" of jhummar in the form of Pokhar Singh and as that became a fad, promoted by Pammi Bai, etc. Everyone and his brother became an "expert" on jhummar then. So anyone who says they know "proper" jhummar after that point should be viewed with suspicion. Chances are that what they actually mean is that they (like others) learned a homogenized fad-jhummar and because they consider you to be a novice or an outsider they have free reign to teach it as though they had authoritative knowledge! Buyer beware.
gibb your comments are always legit. i do have some points of contention, especially with respect to the comparison between modern "lame-ass" jhummar and real traditional pakistani jhummar. based on watching some videos of pakistani jhummar, my opinion is that it is meant to be stand alone dance and seems like it would be pointless to adapt it to stage form of bhangra in it's original form.

repetitive 8 beat sequence done at varying speed in a circle of people. makes me think of some garba sequences i had some exposure to recently.
Saraiki Jhoomar(Dance).....flv

in a sense i'm glad modern bhangra jhummar is so different because adapting this form of original jhoomer would seem to contradict the "spirit" of the traditional form of the dance. modern bhangra jhoomer seems "optimized" for stage performance, entertainment, and allows for the addition of boliyan and lyrics; i don't know enough about pakistani jhoomer to know whether singing is ever done on the dhol beat. from the dhol beat thats used in the video i posted of pakistani jhoomer i don't know if trying to do traditional punjabi boliyan would be possible or even sound good if possible.

JHOOMER - SARBJIT CHEEMA

i disagree with your opinion that modern jhummar is "lame-ass"; in my opinion it adds value to bhangra set, it might have nothing in common with traditional pakistani jhummar but as a dance itself i find it very entertaining. can't speak for everyone but some of us really enjoy dancing this lame-ass jhummar and listening to lame-ass jhummar tracks. :p

I think what gibbs is trying to say is that this is what it is derived from. Jhoomer is so memorable as a segment because of the fact that it was essentially its own dance form and incorporated into Bhanga to make the overall stage dance appealing and what was introduced by pokhar singh. You can see analogous movements between the pakistani jhoomer and what we do on stage as a form of stage bhangra.


Also, in response to a the comment on bhangra boliyan and jhoomer, this is actually WAY better culturally and for the art form of bhangra in general. A lot of the hooplah surrounding garba/raas events is that they are easy to do and similarly correlated. I personally would love doing jhoomer like this and I feel that this is way more communal than stage bhangra. Instead of going to a party and watching a bhangra performance, doing something like this is way more interactive for the crowds involved and is actually a lot of fun to do. Sure you might not be able to sing over it, but if bhangra is a dance about celebration, it should be more about the dancing no?

Also the comment about repetitive 8 beat sequences done in a circle could easily be correlated to a live team doing dhamaal. The only difference between that and garba/raas is our perception of how the things are occurring ( the group vs the performance).
 

Ajay.H

New Member
Messages
142
With this same step, how high do you guys feel that the foot and knee should go? It might sound overanalytical but I see a difference between watching a live team jhummar segment, with the foot barely coming off the ground, and a music team jhummar segment, with a more energetic lift off the ground. When a music team barely lifts their feet off the ground, I think it often gets referred to as looking "dead" and lacking energy. Thoughts?
 

arjunK

New Member
Messages
29
I have seen India live teams do this in ALL different kinds of ways.... heel, ball of foot, leg comes back, knee goes up. Watch a bunch of videos, see what you like, see if it looks good when you do it, see if it feels good when you do it. :)
 

Govind

Member
Messages
364
Ajay.H said:
With this same step, how high do you guys feel that the foot and knee should go? It might sound overanalytical but I see a difference between watching a live team jhummar segment, with the foot barely coming off the ground, and a music team jhummar segment, with a more energetic lift off the ground. When a music team barely lifts their feet off the ground, I think it often gets referred to as looking "dead" and lacking energy. Thoughts?
Great question Ajay...I think ultimately it comes down to style and the way your dance is responding to the vigor with which a particular jhummar dhol taal is played or the music/lyrics too...the variations in jhummar style with the dhol taals are certainly seen in many of the excellent live teams. for music teams, if you were doing jhummar to 'assi babbar sher punjab de' then it would seem a bit silly to drag your feet or not lift your knees up high.

the thing i tell my students when i teach them jhummar for the first time is that in my opinion jhummar doesn't require any less 'energy' per se than the rest of the segment, it's just that the energy is channeled away from power and more into controlling every part of your body, posture, and completing movements. in my books, jhummar should not be considered a time for a breather in your routine...
 

ratanrandhawa

New Member
Messages
9
Thank You SOO Much!!

Your replies have really helped me out as well as without a doubt increasing my interest in the history and roots of bhangra
 
Messages
237
I get lost in the back and forth, so I'll just restate briefly and try to clarify what I was talking about.


1. As I said, people in Diaspora (or in India for that matter) are welcome to do as they wish. And in fact in the context of modern stage bhangra, they really can't be doing traditional jhummar. It doesn't fit in, so trying is kind of futile. That's what I was saying. By the same token, it doesn't make sense to present what you're doing as something traditional. Be honest about it, and understand what you are doing.


2. The reason point #1 came up was because the OP was searching for the "correct" style. If one uses traditional jhummar to define "correct", one will only get caught on a slippery slope, because in investigating traditional jhummar, one will inevitably discover much more that is "incorrect" in bhangra's jhummar. It seems arbitrary to base that one aspect of one's dance on the traditional dance but nothing else. In my opinion, either shoot for the traditional dance wholeheartedly, or accept that you are doing something else and don't be disingenuous about it.


3. An aside: Without going too deeply into it, it's my belief that the new jhummar fad (yes, it was a fad) had much to do with reinscribing "traditionally" on modern bhangra (or on Punjabi dance generally). When many people are dancing it on stage, they seem to have a very strong sense that they are at that moment embodying tradition...and especially, marking the difference between themselves-- knowers of "authentic" Punjabi culture-- and others...others who might just be on the "bhangra" bandwagon, etc.


4. That sense of jhummar as a vehicle for the revival and/or assertion of traditionally is one that developed through a very specific history of jhummar in India in recent decades. It did not just appear out of nowhere.


5. One might imagine that the variations in jhummar that you see comes from the inherent variety of "folk" dance, due to the so called "folk process." "Folk process" refers to the idea that orally-transmitted, non-standardized folk performances naturally vary, kind of like The Telephone Game. Yes, these changes occur; the variety was there in traditional jhummar. However, the varieties of traditional jhummar do not really map onto current jhummar practices, so one can't rationalize what they are doing based on that...


6. Current jhummar practices (outside Pakistan) are mostly based in a few different phases of creation in post-Partition India.


Phase one - Early 1960s, one or two representative actions of "jhummar" got locked into the routine of staged "bhangra." This was done with stepping with the heel of the foot. Here again (from another thread) is my photo of Master Harbhajan Singh showing the step:



This got established as THE bhangra jhummar style. Harbhajan Singh, who grew up in a part of Punjab that had traditional bhangra dance, was very clear and without any shame told me that that area did not have a jhummar practice -- meaning that he had to learn and adopt this version of jhummar he was being given through the bhangra routine.


This step lasted well up through the end of the century.


Phase two - The jhummar group of Pokhar Singh, in far off Fazilka, had been maintaining a jhummar practice. This was stand-alone -- not part of bhangra. BUT although Pokhar Singh had danced traditional jhummar(s), keep in mind that by 1961 (IIRC), he had made up a standardized routine of staged jhummar. This is somewhat comparable to how a staged routine was developed for bhangra. Only in this case it was basically made up and doesnt seem to have changed much through the years.


Here's a picture I took of the group (after Pokhar Singh's death):



Pokhar Singh's group performed this routine here and there over the years. Again, this was aside from what was going on with bhangra. Bhangra practitioners, unless they had emigrated from Western Punjab, for the most part would have just accepted the "token" bhangra jhummar as what one was supposed to do. It was the only contact they had; it was there beginning and end of jhummar, and all dancers and dholis learned it.


But in 1985, Pokhar Singh's group was brought into the limelight for the North Zone Cultural Centre's inauguration. This and other Patiala institutions then got into promoting a jhummar revival. When Pokhar Singh's people performed, it was ok, but other people were evidently very presumptuously that they knew what was what (even though they might have only heard of the existence of jhummar very recently), and they did poor imitations. The Punjabi folklorist Prof. Nahar Singh derided the groups of this time as the Centre's "ill-trained lackeys."


Phase two and a half - Around this time Pammi Bai got attracted to jhummar. On one hand, he went to learn from Pokhar Singh. On the other, he was adapting jhummar
into his pop routines. Also, bhangra groups in his circle were trying out new jhummar
stuff by the 1990s. I don't have time to go into the details... but it seems to have been limited.


One thing that must be said is that jhummar, as adopted (appropriated?) by the mainstream, from glimpses of Pokhar Singh... often got matched -- erroneously -- to the dhol rhythm called tika-tik.


To be continued...
 
Messages
237
[cont...]
So for some people, in the context of the emerging revival (post-1985, based in Pokhar Singh) of jhummar, the dance got linked to the "tika-tik" rhythm. 2 things: 1) This was not a jhummar rhythm (prior); 2) The actual rhythm played by the dholis with Pokhar Singh was not adopted/learned by dholis in the mainstream areas of Punjab. The thing is, both rhythms (tika-tik and Pokhar Singh’s) used the technique of hitting the rim of dhol with dagga. As far as I can reason, I think the “mainstream” dholis assumed tika-tik was, or was just as good as, the Pokhar Singh rhythm. It got mixed up.

Anyway, the import of this is that tika-tik became locked into SOME prominent dholis’ repertoire as a “jhummar” rhythm, and once the jhummar revival gained full steam and they started making pop songs set as “jhummar,” they used this rhythm.


So…

Phase three – circa the few years after 2000, there was a new concept of what constituted jhummar out there (in India). Most people knew the Phase One form, but that was mainly limited to bhangra presentations. When it came to presenting jhummar as a distinct dance, most were using Pokhar Singh as a model. [Some (very few) people were showing a distinct jhummar on yet other models, including Garib Dass, based on some vision of past forms from different areas.] And yet Pokhar Singh’s had also been changed by Pammi Bai … leading some to say that Pammi Bai had "messed up" the tradition. People were grabbing onto any info they had to construct jhummar during the fad – a mix of the Phase One action, Pokhar Singh’s (already mixed/homogenized actions), Pammi Bai’s changes, and the tika-tik rhythm.

In this phase – and this is the fact behind my admittedly judgmental “lame-ass” terminology – the money makers, bandwagon jumpers, etc jumped on. I remember in 2000, 2001, hardly any “regular” folk in India knew about jhummar. When I returned in 2004, “everyone” knew. What had happened in the interim was the release of lots of shoddy media products, especially under the T-Series label. T-Series, of course, was the original cassette company that churns out a lot of cheap music, good and bad. Their productions of pop singers, in videos, etc, had started to have people doing some representation of “jhummar” steps in the background of the singers. These would be done over the song’s “luddi” beat, i.e. the typical beat in most Punjabi "bhangra” songs. So the steps didn’t even make sense, and they were being performed with a character that I think is more appropriate to bhangra. All this lifting the legs way up and leaping into the air, etc. These dancers – often probably “warm bodies” that were recruited to do the background dancing and who had just been instructed in some steps, really were not doing a good job. Let's be real. They were not trying (if they were, they were failing) to capture the jhummar style introduced by Pokhar Singh. Older musicians were making fun of the dancing style, implying basically (though it is politically incorrect to say) that their dancing looked “gay”. And indeed, you’d see these dancers going through the actions with a proud look on their faces like “Hey, look Ma, I’m doing jhummar. Aren’t I the shit?”

Phase four (you can tell these phase numbers I’m making up are pretty arbitrary!) – a new sort of “common knowledge” of jhummar was established. It was rather divorced from any agency (e.g. Pokhar Singh) of knowledgeable practitioners. Now it was something “everyone” knew, a lot of free-floating stuff that people appropriated as desired. The jhummar sequence within bhangra was EXPANDED, employing the newly popular steps, style, and rhythm. That is the phase during which Indian bhangra teams started getting seen on YouTube by people in North America.

From a postmodern standpoint, any “jhummar”, I suppose, is equally valid. But if we throw in the matter of aesthetics and/or heritage, we have an issue. Does one want to slavishly imitate any and all “jhummar” stuff that started floating around since circa 2002-3, much of which bears the imprint of inexperienced pop music presenters, or does one wants to dig deeper to know the aesthetics of Pokhar Singh, etc? One is most certainly not obligated; one can do whatever one wants. New aesthetics are born, certainly. I happen to think, however, that if one at all presents their jhummar as something to do with heritage, something to do with “Punjabi arts”…one has some responsibility to know where their stuff is coming from. Let’s not pretend that the stuff of tradition just floated up to the present and that, just because we don’t explicitly claim to be doing “folk,” then what we are doing is our chosen "modern" interpretation, creativity on a foundation, etc. Dance doesn’t just change; people change it. Be deliberate and educated when you make the change…at least that’s my preference, ha.

Put bluntly, one should have no illusions about the currently popular jhummar, that it (like much of bhangra) really is a new development of the last 10 years. And if you deliberately represent it otherwise to audiences, you are being disingenuous.
 

voxanimus

<('.'<) (>'.')>
Messages
1,685
the concepts put forth here about the vanishing relevance of "traditionality" in light of the actual history of bhangra's choreographic evolution should really change judging on the circuit.


at the very least, shouldn't there be a reevaluation of "traditionality" as opposed to "modernity," especially as a judging criterion?
 

yraparla

SwizzeeMusic.com
Messages
2,072
voxanimus said:
the concepts put forth here about the vanishing relevance of "traditionality" in light of the actual history of bhangra's choreographic evolution should really change judging on the circuit.

at the very least, shouldn't there be a reevaluation of "traditionality" as opposed to "modernity," especially as a judging criterion?
Yes and it's been talked about to death as much as modern vs. traditional has. We have this judging question about traditionality as a criterion after most comps. Fact is, committees set rubrics and they usually don't know what they're doing. It's up to judges and teams to stand up and start taking ownership of the competitive aspects of a competition
 
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