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How to Better Critique Your Dance Team

  • Bhangra

I think as a whole, the desi dance community is rigid and stupid when it comes to running their own teams.

Many teams think of it like any other collegiate organizations. Elections that are essentially popularity contests, they use a simple chat platform to communicate (GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, carrier pigeons, etc), wasting hours of practice time doing work in practice rather than actually practicing, etc. The most tech any given team consistently uses is Google Docs. It’s 2021. There are dozens and dozens of books about how to lead people, more and more apps everyday to organize tasks and documents, and many cooler websites and tools that just make the process of iterating, collaborating, and critiquing the choreography and dancing infinitely easier. But people are lazy. People are stupid. People are rigid and unwilling to change. If you’re a new captain or starting a new year with your team and want to go through the unnecessarily enraging task of convincing your team to use a new platform. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best tools out there you can implement for your team based on what you’re trying to get done.

As the new competitive season is about to take hold, I figured now is a better time than any to get on my soap box and tell everyone how they’re all wrong and what they should do instead.

Lol in all honesty, I always find all these new softwares and tools and I become enthralled by them. So much so I just want to tell everyone I know about them and geek out over it. Since all my friends are thoroughly over listening to my rants, I figured I can share it with the rest of you.

You know…you. Yeah you’re probably the only person who’s ever going to read this. Thank you. I appreciate your existence.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be going over better ways to critique, better ways to make formations and communicate those formations, better ways to manage tasks. I’ve already done messaging apps, now I’ll do critiquing apps.


Critiquing App Tier List

Critiquing App Tier List

S Tier – Frame.io

What the heck is Frame.io? Why should I use frame.io? It’s by far is the best app for critiquing dancing. I can’t profess enough how amazing it is. So much so, I’m adding a link to a frame.io video I made with FCB in the past. Feel free to comment, tag people, draw on it, etc.

Ease of Use

  • Easy to make an account and share videos
  • Mobile app only iPhone, but mobile web app on Android is solid

You can use a Google account to make an account. To give someone the ability to watch and comment on all the videos, all you have to do is add them as a collaborator with their email. Annoying thing is that the mobile app is iPhone only, but the mobile internet version is passable on Android for reading comments. Making and drawing comments on the video is within the browser and honestly who sits down to make a ton of critiques on their phone.

Commenting, annotating, and tagging 

  • You can tag people, add hashtags, comment to timestamps directly
  • You can draw boxes, arrows, and free draw directly on the videos that everyone else can see
  • You get notified when you’re tagged

Once someone makes an account and joins the project they can comment, tag other peoples, add hashtags for easier searching for specific topics, draw directly on the video with boxes, arrows, free drawing, etc. When you make a comment, you can “play” the critique and it plays the 3 seconds before and after so you can see the context of the critique. Whenever you’re tagged in a comment you get a notification via the app and/or email.

Archiving and Searching 

There’s a folder system so you can group videos by comp, segment, dancer, whatever you’re feeling. Simple search bar for videos, filter videos by name, date uploaded, number of comments, etc.

Divide the cost amongst your roster of 12 dancers and it costs each person 2 chipotle bowls or whatever long sleeve team shirt y’all get every year. It’s a no brainer. 

Price 

  • $156 per year for Pro account, $13 per dancer if you only have 12 people on your team.
  • Only need one paid account, everyone else can be free

Here’s the catch, you gotta pay to get the most out of it. If you compress your videos to 360p you can get a ton of videos into 2 GB, but compressing and then uploading video is a huge pain. You only need to have 1 paid account while everyone else are free collaborators. Buy 1 Pro account with the team email which if you pay for 1 year up front costs $156. Yeah it seems like a bit but seriously, think about much your team pays for reg fees, vardi, props, post game alcohol, etc. Divide the cost amongst your roster of 12 dancers and it costs each person 2 chipotle bowls or whatever long sleeve team shirt y’all get every year. It’s a no brainer.

Frame.io Pricing

A Tier – Notion

I’ve written at length about Notion, especially when talking about critiquing teams. I’ve even made a template y’all can use to critique your teams within Notion. I’m a huge fan of the software for practically anything and everything.

Ease of Use 

  • Works like Google Docs and Sheets all in one
  • A lot of students already have it

Making an account is super simple. Sharing a team page is super simple. The template I made works similarly to a Google doc. Honestly, a few dancers on your team probably have an account ever since Notion blew up during the pandemic. This app probably will be the easier for a team to adopt because of that.

Commenting, tagging, and annotating 

  • You can tag people and comment
  • No native image annotation

Commenting and tagging are fairly self explanatory if you’ve ever used a computer. Annotating images is heckin’ annoying in comparison to Frame. You’d have to use some other software to annotate an image and then upload it into the associated Notion page. Or you can just upload screenshots directly.

Archiving and Searching 

  • Extensive filtering options

The place Notion truly excels is archiving and search. In the template I made, you can filter by dancer, assign people to critique specific videos, filter by what videos a specific person needs to critique, who’s in what video, by date, by segment. You can truly hone down and organize your team’s library of videos.

Price 

Free for students, $4 per month ($48 per year) for everyone else.

B Tier – Facebook Groups and Multi-Channel Messaging Apps

Facebook Groups

Almost everyone has a Facebook account in college because of all the other groups and clubs they’re in. It’s probably the easiest to get your team to use and the biggest con is that you have to use Facebook. Zuck is going to steal your data to sell you more laptop stickers and custom long sleeve shirts.

Ease of Use 

It’s Facebook. Your mom knows how to use it. Your grandma knows how to use it. Just go be a mountain man if you don’t know how to use it.

Commenting, tagging, and annotating 

Similar to Notion. Commenting and tagging others are self explanatory. You’ll have to annotate images with some other software and upload them into the comments or just upload screenshots directly.

Archiving and Searching 

Just a search bar. Nothing fancy.

Price 

Free.

Multi-Channel Messaging Apps (Slack, Discord)

Ease of Use 

Y’all are already using one right?

Commenting, tagging, and annotating 

Tagging and adding photos are limited to your messaging platform. Most of them will let you tag people, make threads under specific videos, make a critique specific channel or dancer specific channel. There’s at least some organization.

Archiving and Searching 

They all have some sort of simple search bar to look through past messages.

Price 

Free.

C Tier – YouTube and Google Drive

YouTube

YouTube? You may be asking what I mean by using YouTube. Of course you’re already using YouTube to upload videos. However, you may not use it to its fullest extent.

Ease of Use 

It’s YouTube, please don’t continue reading if you don’t know how to use YouTube.

Commenting, tagging, and annotating 

  • Comment with timestamps that jump directly to that bit of the video

One thing that YouTube has over every other software is you’re already uploading the video to YouTube. You can comment with a timestamp and you can click on the timestamp to jump directly to that moment in the video. (You can check out an example of this in action here). You might be concerned about comments on an Unlisted video popping up on Google search, but that risk is extremely low after the recent YouTube changes. You can’t add images or screenshots, but that might not be as much of an issue because of the timestamps.

Archiving and Searching 

  • You’ll need to keep a list of all the unlisted video links somewhere separately

Since all your videos will be Unlisted, you’ll have to use some other kind of database to search and store all the links (ie Google Docs, Notion, a channel in Slack or Discord).

Price

 Free.

Google Drive

Ease of Use 

It’s just a regular word doc or excel sheet on Google

Commenting, tagging, and annotating 

You won’t be able to tag anyone so you’ll just have to tell the dancer whenever critiques are made. Annotating has the same issue as every other software, you’ll have to use a separate software to annotate images and then upload them onto the google doc.

Archiving and Searching 

Google Sheets allows a bit more flexibility and archiving abilities. You can add as many fields as you want for the location of the video, segment, dancers in the video, date, etc. You’ll just have to manually input that for each video.

Price

Free.

F Tier – GroupMe, iMessage, WhatsApp, or any single channel messaging method

I’ve heard of teams just mass critiquing each other in GroupMe and that sounds like the most pointless bullshit I’ve ever heard of in my entire life. If your team does that and doesn’t want to change, don’t ever speak to me.

Disagree with my tier list? Lemme know in the comments.

For more blogs about softwares to use check them out here (links will become live as I publish the posts.)

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