Danger, Danger, Danger

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

watch now

penguin.jpg

By Michelle Lefevre

Over the years Article19 has been called many things. Childish, belligerent, dangerous, derogatory, unprofessional, and, bizarrely, manufacturers of orange juice! With that in mind we thought it was about time we cast our glance around the internet at the other dance web sites out there.

I'm going look at the content of the sites, writing style, humour and other bit's and pieces. The design of the sites is not really what I'm looking at but it may garner a mention. Since we kind of liked being called dangerous (who doesn't? Ed!) I will also look at each of the sites "danger ratings". Are the writers "touching the forelock" or throwing vicious haymakers and looking for the knockout?

Almost all arts related media and journalism is very soft in nature. The "quality" press concern themselves, for the most part, with fluff pieces on high profile dance makers. Criticism or comment is reserved only for reviews.

I'll focus on two sites that have developed the most over the last 18 months. Both The Winger and Great Dance have been consistently updated and have adapted to new trends in that time period. Following that I'll cast a wary eye over several other sites with a few mini-reviews.

Readership of these sites is a mystery and the metrics derived from companies such as Alexa (owned by Amazon) are so fundamentally flawed they are pretty much worthless.

Readership isn't really an issue though. The internet is overly obsessed with numbers that are largely irrelevant. Most sites would rather have 5/10,000 committed readers than 50,000,000 worthless page views, unless your just hawking pay per click ads that is.

Scores are out of ten.

The Winger

wingerrate.pngInitially started by Kristin Sloan, a dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB), as a behind the scenes blog, it has grown to accommodate more than 20 dancers, students and choreographers. Members of NYCB, American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and others are all here. The emphasis is mainly on classical ballet and companies in the United States but other nations, including Brazil and the UK, are included in the mix.

Each individual blogs freely about their own particular experiences within whatever sphere they work and many share photos and videos of their travels around the world. Editorial oversight appears to be limited to keeping technical issues in order which is a good thing as far as blogging is concerned. Coverage extends to some insights into the personal worlds of the dancers but it's nothing too overwrought.

Ms Sloan in particular, currently recuperating from injury, has produced more than a dozen video features including a comprehensive behind the scenes look at the NYCB's new production of Romeo and Juliet. Such video features are almost unheard of and put the online video productions of other ballet websites to shame. She also has a habit of taking photos of herself whilst riding her motorbike. I'm sure her mother has had a word or two to say about that!

I have no doubt that if this type of site were handled by NYCB themselves it would be a very clinical affair, you can spot "corporate" blogs a mile off. The accessible nature of most of the writing, off the cuff images and posts that are not always about dance and show those involved to be much more than class/performance machines. Dancer's do, in fact, have actual lives to lead!

The sheer number of contributors, some are more active than others, makes the sites design struggle with the content on occasion. If postings are frequent they will disappear from the front page very quickly. You can follow each contributor individually via their own RSS feed but if the sites contributor numbers grow further then a new layout may be needed to stop content being lost.

The Winger may have outgrown its "blog" roots and a different layout approach would certainly help keep things clearer for the readers.

Classical Ballet audiences tend to follow individual dancers a lot more than in the contemporary world and not just the, so-called, stars either. The Winger is the perfect insight for those audiences and the general viewer and offers a wide range of experiences to indulge in. It is by far the best dance orientated blog on the internet by a very long way.

Danger:

Since most of the professional dancers posting on the site are currently working within large companies it would be professional suicide if they started to lay bare the dirty laundry of their respective employers on a public weblog. Don't expect and stinging editorial style commentary, at least not until they retire!

[ The Winger ]

Great Dance

wingerrate.pngFrom the blogs title it's hard to tell if this is a dance blog that's "great" or a blog about dance that's "great" I feel sure it's the latter.

The blog itself is written by Doug Fox, a Washington DC based writer who participates in dance classes, workshops and "community" orientated performance projects.

For the most part the blog concerns itself with issues related to dance, technology and the internet and just how dance companies and dance makers take advantage of "new media" opportunities to get the word out and generate some revenue.

Comprehensive coverage of websites that could hold possible advantages for dance companies with no money is impressively comprehensive with many new web startups covered in detail and examples given on just how a dance maker could use the resources available. A massive list of current dance blogs is also featured on the site if you feel the need for some serious link clicking.

Video interviews with dance makers are published on occasion. Sometimes the posts can go off on an esoteric tangent, such as "Capturing the Essence of Movement" and "Dance Is No Longer an Ephemeral Art Form". When I showed these particular posts to some dancers they rolled their eyes and immediately lost interest. That type of writing has a place but for many, within the profession, it takes them back to the days of dance theory and dance history and for many it's not a place they want to be. Mostly, however, the articles stay focused on dance, tech, web.

With regards to the content; Some of the theorizing about how dance companies can utilise online technologies does lack some detail in just how specific goals can be achieved. I often feel that the other side of the coin is not explored to create the essential balance that is needed with a piece of feature writing. A little more depth could go a long way.

However, from outlandish theories practical ideas can be born and at the very least Great Dance is putting those ideas into words and stirring the debate a little. The comments section of many posts are fairly active and this can only grow over time, with a little luck.

Great Dance is growing into a significant online resource of dance and technology related issues and, like The Winger, appears to be outgrowing its "blog" origins. Blogs by their very nature are pretty limited in how they present information and a slight redesign would help break down the information into clearer categories. Finally, using purple as a colour base for anything is never a good idea.

Danger

Not averse to slapping dance companies around for failing to use technology in audience friendly ways and for missing opportunities to grow their audiences or generate revenue. The sites premise doesn't really position the writing to take issues with dancers health care (even more of an issue in the USA than it is in Europe), pay levels or government funding. The internet and technology are significant factors in dance as we go through the 21st century so it's good to know that at least one site is willing to throw a few punches on those particular issues.

[ Great Dance ]

Voice of Dance

wingerrate.pngSomewhat optimistically titled online dance magazine that offers very little in the way of actual content which is confusing since the home page sports hundreds of links.

Calling yourself the "voice" of dance would seem to suggest that you speak for the profession but there are no feature pieces, no writing, no editorial of any description apart from a few reviews. The completely atrocious design doesn't help matters. If there is content then it cannot be found.

Adding to the confusion are a number of broken links, clumsy titling of sections, antiquated forum system and a general level of confusion. This website doesn't appear to know what it's supposed to be doing or who it's for.

Danger:

The only threat this site poses is to the aesthetic sensibilities of its readers. There's no real content, so nothing that threatens the poor kittens in the wide world of dance.

[ Voice of Dance ]

Londondance.com

wingerrate.pngWe've covered this site several times in the past and unlike The Winger and Great Dance it does not get any better with age. LD.com is a shameless and blatant shill for ACE and Sadler's Wells theatre and any theatre associated with Sadler's Wells.

The site only covers dance makers and companies that will be performing within a few selected London dance houses. It's funded by Arts Council England and practices "press release journalism" and makes no apologies for it.

A typical day in LD.com towers involves visiting the websites of the major UK newspapers and copying and pasting any links they can find to anything remotely dance related within those daily tomes. The crtl-c and ctrl-v keys must be worn out from all this hot copying action!

The much vaunted "directory" of all things dance would be impressive if Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask or a thousand other search engines did not exist and did not do the job 50 times faster. Finding anything of use is an experience all to painful to repeat.

The site does have a commenting system but unfavourable comments are not published, the site gives no indication that comments are being held for moderation.

Danger:

The only danger is to the writers, they might get dry lips from too much ass kissing!

[ Londondance ]

Criticaldance.com

wingerrate.pngJust like Voice of Dance this site has a very strange name in that they do not appear to very critical of anything at all. There are two main parts to the site, a forum and a magazine that is updated monthly with new articles and photos but no video.

The emphasis is on classical ballet in both the forum and the magazine section of the site. For the most part it's like reading the Sunday newspapers. It's all very polite, very well meaning and rather dull. It's a bit like primary school for adults!

Danger:

If I could give negative numbers for this then I would! Dissent is actively discouraged and overzealous forum moderators will quickly lock any discussion thread that has a 3% chance of ruffling some feathers.

[ Criticaldance.com ]

Summary

There are, of course, many more dance websites out there in Interwebnet land and the dance blogoshpere is growing by the day. You get the feeling that the bloggers, such as The Winger and Great Dance, are probably where the better content is at and where dance is being covered in slightly more realistic terms with a touch of personality and flair.

The bigger sites, to be blunt, are just plain dull because they are very obviously run by committee. They have no identity, no charisma, no humour and pretty much no damn clue! As far as Article19 is concerned, it's like Carl Lewis racing against asthmatic hippos in leg calipers, and that's not a good thing!

[ Top Image by Jan Will ]

blog comments powered by Disqus

Can You Cut It?

Shooting Straight