What is "traditionality"?

Saleem

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Hans said:
Isn't a bit restricting and narrow-minded that nearly every competition allots a minimum of 15-20 points for traditionality, especially when this term is so vague to begin with?
I agree that it's kind of silly that between 20-45% of the score is determined by "traditionality", but not because it's so hard to nail down what that means, but because no/few competitions seem to judge the category consistently.

From what I've seen over the past couple years that 'traditionality' weight has gone up, it's just wiggle room that judges can score highly for the ones they want to win overall, and mediocre for those they dont.
 

Ashwin

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Let's not worry about what rubrics say about a % of a score coming from this vs. this. The cleanest, most entertaining dance wins every time. It has nothing to do with someone getting 15/15 on traditionality, 5/5 for stunts, or 20/20 on formations. Competitions pick their winners and then fudge their sheets too look as if they followed the rubrics. Given the rubrics that are dispensed pre-competition, I've seen some completely unexplainable results return. For example, I was at Bhangra Blast 2003, and the competition had stressed beforehand that "themes" would be very important in the judging. Guess what? None of the 3 teams that placed had themes. Did the three teams that placed have the best dances? Yes. But is there any way they would have won if judging had stuck to rubrics? Nope.
 

kinnell

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I've got a question.

An asian kid on my team asked me this question this year - "How do you know whether a step is traditional?"

Obviously, I couldn't answer. But can you denote whether a bhangra step is traditional? Or do you have to look at the routine as a whole to decide? For example, if you did a double step (raas term, sorry) to bhangra music, it's not traditional (because it looks weird and it is raas)? But to what standards can you associate dance steps to traditionality, if to any at all?
 

kinnell

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amriksahni said:
What's a double step?
One of the standard raas moves - it's like jumping from one leg to another with a ball-change in-between, but with high-knees. With the head bobbing, loads of energy, double step and a pair of dandiyas, you've got yourself a classic raas step. [I'm on a raas team, too]
 

Hans

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Nevin said:
Hans,

So i like your interesting take on the essence definition that i put forth, and while I agree with your assesment that on some level a 'non-traditional' performance of bhangra may be more accessible to a new audience than a purely traditional one i feel like you are missing the point of my original post that addresses this issue.

Dancing to promote punjabi culture is different than dancing to preserve punjabi culture.
Naweenie,

I don't think I'm missing that point. I'm basically in agreement with you on that idea, and where we disagree is on whether or not everyone needs to stay close to "root form bhangra" to preserve Punjabi culture.

I agree that it's important for at least some teams to stay "traditional" to preserve the dance's history, but I don't think that everyone needs to do this. That's what I meant by emphasizing the difference between a dance's form and its message. The form is the actual set of moves and the beats, whereas the message is the idea of bhangra, and what it's meant to communicate.

My opinion is that the message is universal, but the form is temporary. So I think that as long as a dance retains the message, what we've been calling the "essence" of bhangra, it doesn't need to have the same literal form. The moves can be changed, the music can be modernized, and I think it should still be called, and respected as, "bhangra." Your opinion seems to differ from mine since you feel like deviations from "root form bhangra" hurt the effort of preserving bhangra, and I think that's a viable opinion even though I disagree with it. All that means is that if we were both judging a dance on its balance of "preservation vs. promotion," you would probably judge "preservation" more literally than I would, and weigh it higher. That's entirely a matter of personal prefernce, and no one can be wrong or right there as long as each person understands their own judgments.

What bothers me most, though, is that a lot of people who talk about "traditionality" do not have the same respect for different interpretations or ideas. I hear people say "that's a good dance, it's entertaining, but it's not bhangra." That, I feel, is a pretty narrow-minded view. You can look at almost any art form and people always say very similar things when the art takes a huge turn. Monet and the impressionist painters, for example, were disrespected in their time, because what they were doing was different and in a new direction. Today, those paintings are some of the most valuable and widely-recognized works around. It was a different kind of painting, but it was still painting. The interpretation was different, but it drew from the same sources of inspiration and technique.

So, just because it's a different kind of bhangra, doesn't mean that it's not bhangra. This is sort of stepping back a little bit from the initial discussion, but I think it's something that I've been thinking about for a while, and I'm curious to see how others feel about this.
 

neilD

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Yo,

Just as impressionism is a specific type of painting, bhangra is a specific type of dance. Thus, Monet and his painters created a totally new type of painting, just like one who deviates far from the root form of bhangra is creating and doing a different type of dance.

Just as a painting can be labeled as impressionism due to some basic rules, bhangra must also be able to be determined in such a way.

p.s.- the balance between preservation and promotion, it hits the theme of bhangra teams today on the spot, sgpd, vcu, they all have achieved this balance.
 

Hans

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neilD said:
Just as impressionism is a specific type of painting, bhangra is a specific type of dance. Thus, Monet and his painters created a totally new type of painting, just like one who deviates far from the root form of bhangra is creating and doing a different type of dance.
Yeah, I understand this argument, and I tried to preempt it by specifying that their specific type of painting still drew from the same sources. For instance, the subjects of their paintings were the same (landscapes, still lifes), their tools were the same (paintbrushes, canvases), and their motivations for painting to begin with were the same. They didn't create an entirely new art, but their specific technique was different. I guess I shouldn't compare different types of bhangra to different types of painting. What I should have said was, they created a new type painting within the school of western painted art, which narrows it down, but still includes the similarities I mentioned above.

I agree that the bhangra that we do here is a different type of bhangra than what is done in India, but I don't think it's a different type of dance as long as it draws from the same ideas (community-oriented, musical influences and themes) and the same basic tools (props, costumes, instruments, number and gender of dancers -- but I'd allow more leeway for innovation in this category). I actually think if you want to point out a problem with bhangra that has done the most damage to its root form, it would be the competitive aspect, since that completely changes the motivation for bhangra from joyous celebration and community-building to competition which is almost the opposite of these ideas, but that's another discussion entirely.

neilD said:
Just as a painting can be labeled as impressionism due to some basic rules, bhangra must also be able to be determined in such a way.

p.s.- the balance between preservation and promotion, it hits the theme of bhangra teams today on the spot, sgpd, vcu, they all have achieved this balance.
I can't agree with this statement at all. What does it mean to say that they've "achieved" the balance? That's it, they're right, it's over? Is there no more room for improvement, and does that mean that 10 years from now we'll look back on the best performances of this past year and say that they're still the right balance? I don't think that will be the case. If I look back 10 years ago, I certainly don't think those performances hold up today. I think the whole point of the balance is that everyone has a different interpretation of what a good balance is, and that interpretation is never constant.
 

Saleem

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Hans said:
What does it mean to say that they've "achieved" the balance? That's it, they're right, it's over? Is there no more room for improvement, and does that mean that 10 years from now we'll look back on the best performances of this past year and say that they're still the right balance?
Yeah definitely agreed. Every year, the equilibrium has gone one way or the other. TBT was winning 2 years ago. Duniya and even KJ as I recall went live last year. MIT has somehow made a comeback with 2003 bhangra this year (I hope this is more of a well-recognized fact than an insult to them, I mean no harm).

Not only is the balance constantly changing, but teams are still innovating (thankfully). In 10 years, I expect all of these dances to look quite dated. In 2011, I plan to add a BTF bhangra wiki. you can write all about it. ;)
 

amriksahni

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neilD said:
Also, bhangra in NA is different than bhangra in India, but in my opinion, the best teams in NA, like teams in India, directly draw on the root form of bhangra in an attempt to preserve punjabi culture and the folk dance they love.
Neil, how do we judge who is the best team in North America or India? By what rubric and credentials do these teams have the right to claim that they are "the best"? I have always wondered this, but I think I have found my answer. They aren't. It's totally subjective. The team that I may view as the best you may view as lame or "2003-style" bhangra. Yet, in the end, we all view it as bhangra.

Teams differ in innumerable ways these days, and to some people, it's hard to grasp the fact that they all fall under one umbrella known as "bhangra." Many have a set definition of what bhangra is, and few accept modifications and liberal deviations from the "norm." In the end, however, they are all in a bhangra competition, so they are all bhangra teams, by some method of reason.

My question is, whether they are considered "traditional" by folks who claim to be knowledgeable in the field (POL-aholics) or "modern", how can we determine who is the best? Isn't this your classic case of comparing apples to oranges?

Amrik
 

Waleed

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Hi guys

This is one of BTF's first monster posts (back in the stone age). There have been a lot of members who have joined since then and I would recommend reading some posts to see what your other fellow heads think about this very important topic. Also would be great to hear your feedback since we now have a ton of members who possess a wealth of information.

-Waleed
 
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