Dance on the Web

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Martin French

Article19 has been online for over 3 years now in one form or another. Like all things we evolve with the times, learning from mistakes and constantly adding new things to bring you, our dear readers, ever more information and features. But what of the rest of the dance world? Just how far have they come in the online age? Just how well are they using the internet in 2003? Our technology advisor Michael Devney looks into it.

We picked 10 dance related web sites based in the UK at random from a group of 50. If you would like to try finding 50 dance related web sites in the UK then good luck to you because it took us an absolute age! Each web site was assessed under the following 4 sections;

Design:
How well the information is presented to the user and how easy it is to navigate your way around and find what you want or need to know.

Information:
Is the information relevant to the web site, to the user, to the subject matter? Is it well written or does it speak in tongues?

Update:
when was the last time the information was changed? has the web site become a internet ghost ship with all aboard having perished in mysterious circumstances?

Video:
Dance is about movement so do they show you any movement using video material?

We then provide a summary of the web site and provide a simple score out of 10 at the end of each mini-review. They are in no particular order and the aim is not to find a winner but to try and give a general overview of the state of the dance community online. Web sites are tested on Apple computers running OSX and Safari with a high-speed internet connection.

DanceXchange

Design Layout is clean and clear with navigation down the left side to all the major sections. Images are good although a little small and the text is easily readable and well spaced and laid out. It does use frames however which lets the side down a little.
Information Details what they do, class information, performance info and easy to find contact details. Most information is listed in chronological order which makes it easier to find. Has a small links section.
Update Listings and class details are current so we imagine this site is updated on a term by term basis.
Video Other than some odd "logo" videos there is no dance video on the site.
Summary Of all the NDA web sites (there are 10 of them) this is the best by far. Clean and clear with current information. Loses points for using frames and an annoying JavaScript that expands the browser window to fill the screen.
Score 7/10

Rambert Dance Company

Design The layout is mainly black with white text and utilises a Flash based menu system with the worst rollover I have ever seen. Overall the layout and site structure is poor with difficult navigation paths and some sections locked off unless you become a member. It was not altogether clear how you become a member.
Information Basic company details, dancers and biogs, images, a basic history of Rambert, online shop for various bits of merchandise. Some touring information.
Update Some information is recent and other bits are very out of date. Spotlight on Dancer section features a dancer who no longer works for the company and hasn't done for some time. Dancers diary was last altered February last year!
Video None
Summary Poor design and layout with dreadful navigation. Some good information if you can be bothered to find it. The membership system is pointless.
Score 4/10

Random Dance Company

Design Built with frames and launches in a centered display. Drop down navigation system to all sections. Like Rambert this is a black design with white text. Navigation is clumsy and slow also uses a non standard device to scroll text.
Information Dancers biogs, touring, current projects, education, images, contact details.
Update Difficult to determine.
Video Random have occasional web casts which are unavailable at time of writing.
Summary From a company supposedly at the cutting edge of technology this is pathetic. The web site failed to launch in any Mac based browser (installed with Flash 7) I had to resort to VirtualPC and Windows XP to get it running. Images are poorly formatted and dark, the navigation is horrible and using this site is not a pleasant experience.
Score 1/10

Ballet.co.uk

Design Best described as beige. Clear text layout and linking to information although it could be a little clearer considering the amount of information they have on the site. Top menu bar for main sections is a little unclear.
Information 2100 pages according to their search system. Almost everything you need to know about ballet all over the world.
Update every day
Video none
Summary Online since 1997 this site has a good pedigree with a tremendous amount of information for those partial to a bit of ballet. Could do with an overhaul to make the navigation through the wealth of information a little easier though.
Score 8/10

Motionhouse Dance Theatre

Design Bright, easy to navigate, good images although they are a bit small.
Information Current work, touring info, archive of previous works, press info, easy to find contact details.
Update difficult to determine.
Video none
Summary With the exception of the video material (lack of it) everything is here to find out all you need to know about the company and it's easy to find. Better use of images would add to the site a little.
Score 7/10

LondonDance.com

Design News orientated site with multiple column layout. Navigation is broken down into sections and it does get a little muddled on a small screen.
Information London orientated (obviously) with news, features and an excellent directory section. Also carries job lists and audition info although you need to join (which is free)
Update Weekly, Daily (depending on news)
Video Some small preview videos from dance companies. They are small, short and poorly encoded.
Summary Would be a much better resource with a redesign to make the navigation a bit easier. News is listed alphabetically and not chronologically which is confusing. Video section needs an overhaul.
Score 6/10 (score revised)

Arc Dance Company

Design Squashed in to a small box centered on the screen. Easy to navigate, although a little confusing in places. Nice use of photography.
Information Production info all the way to 2006, dancer info, contact info, some other bits and pieces.
Update Unable to determine
Video none
Summary Needs to be set free from its little box, navigation could do with an overhaul and the lack of video lets it down. Does the job though
Score 6/10

Royal Ballet

Design Brown graphics, sloppy design and poor navigation. integrated with the Royal Opera House Website.
Information Casting and production info, performance dates, history section, education and outreach, online ticket booking.
Update unable to determine
Video none (that we could find)
Summary Considering the millions they receive this is an embarrassing, sloppy, ill conceived, amateurish mess. Online ticket booking is the only saving grace.
Score 1/10

DV8 Dance Theatre

Design Simple white background with black text. Other sections have their own colour schemes. Easy navigation. Little or no imagery.
Information Company details, touring, press info, merchandise (two posters). They used to have a message board but this seems to have vanished.
Update This month
Video none
Summary DV8's website has featured the same design for years. It's clear and concise but considering the company's long history (for dance any way) it could have a lot more information for the public to see. Also time for a new design.
Score 7/10

The Place

Design Opens in a dedicated small window. Uses flash for the main navigation. Good use of images and the navigation is quick and responsive. The little boxes that appear to the left are confusing and unclear however.
Information Everything you probably need to know about The Place, the Robin Howard Dance Theatre and LSCD. Also; listings info and contact information.
Update unable to determine
Video none
Summary Apart from the pop up window aspect this is a good site. Could use a little more depth in some sections and video material would make it a terrific resource. The typography and colouring need a bit of work in some sections.
Score 8/10

Some websites are looking much better than they did a few years ago. some look just the same and others should never have been born. The only big disappointment is the complete lack of video material from any of the websites. We understand that it is hard to get a hold of and more needs to be done to get dance work online.

Zero's in this case are Random and the Royal Ballet for the poorest efforts and Random should really know better.

Hero's? if The Place lost the pointless pop up window aspect of their site and expanded the content a little then they would have a winner on their hands.

Sadly there are still about 1000 websites out there related to dance that are simply terrible and a few good ones that were not part of this review. Dance online still has a very long way to go!

[although we have placed this article into the new design it is now a little bit out of date. Interesting to note however that some of the sites featured here have not changed one bit since they were reviewed and a couple of them have gotten worse!]

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