NDA Websites Circa 2007

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


by Martin French

Two years ago we had a long hard look at the websites the National Dance Agency Network in England were using to tell the world about who they were and what they were doing.

Some of them were pretty dire efforts so we revisted all of the sites to have another look at what the men and women of the UK's dance support network have been doing to improve things in their online guise.

As before we looked at the design of the site, the information they had on offer, special features, if any, with a summary on each website at the end of each review. The previous scores or in brackets.

Note: National Dance Agencies are a network of nine orgnisations around England that provide support for professional dancers, community dance activity and other, dance related, endeavours.

Dance East
Design Home page design has switched to a three column layout. Links and other important information DE want you to know about sit on the left, 'coming soon' performance and workshop details are in the middle with details on the agency's new building bringing it all together on the right.

Individual pages follow the same layout structure. Text is a little cramped but it's easy to read none the less. The performance page is a bit of a mess because for some reason information about the shows is jammed into a very thin column. Most of the images are fairly small.
Information Details about classes are broken down into the three areas of England covered by DE. Local professional performance details are all up to date with links to the venues running the show.

Separate page called 'support to artists' detailing what they do to help professional dancers with a list of up and coming professional classes. There is currently a lot of info about the development of the agency's new building project. Dance links page provides a list of other dance related websites.
Last Update Press release on 24th January
Special Features None
Summary It's certainly an improvement over the previous model. The drop down menus have gone so finding things is a lot easier and what information there is can be found and read without difficulty. It's all a little uninspiring though and the tone of the site is very impersonal, no blogs, no humour, just cold hard facts.
Score 6/10 (4/10)


Dance 4
Design Completely rebuilt since last we reviewed it. Now sporting a black and grey finish with splashes of colour coming from various photographs. Links are broken down into sections on the left of the screen with the index page sporting an 'about Dance 4' bio with a latest news offering in the right hand column.

Individual pages follow the same design principle with each section clearly identified at the top of the page. Contact information for the agency is permanently on display at the top of every page.
Information Fairly comprehensive, covering performances, workshops, and projects of all kinds within their geographical area of coverage. Some information is a little vague however. For example, a section on 'episodes', Dance4's annual youth platform, doesn't offer details of how you can take part. Everybody who knows Dance 4 will probably already know but it's never a good idea to assume.
Last Update December 2006 as far as I could tell.
Special Features None
Summary Massive improvement over the previous effort. The muted colour scheme keeps everything consistent and the information is clear and well laid out. The text is a little on the small side though and a bumping it up a couple of points wouldn't hurt. More comprehensive info could be provided for some sections, also, I'm not sure what all the icons across the top are supposed represent. As with Dance East the site is a little impersonal.
Score 6/10 (1/10)


Dance City
Design Like each of the previous two site this one adopts a three column approach. The home page features 'latest news' on the left, some info and an image in the middle and a group of icons on the right linking to various endeavours.

A strip of links across the top, under the company logo, remain consistent throughout. Pages maintain the same look and feel with section sub links appearing on the left to further explore the details in that section.
Information Details on classes, broken down by age range, performances, at the agency's in-house theatre, details of the Dance City Academy (for gifted young dancers) and a break down of workshops and classes available for professional dancers. Staff page lists no less than 23 members of staff!
Last Update Late January or early February.
Special Features Online ticket booking for in house theatre.
Summary DC's website was one of the better ones (well better in a pretty bad bunch) from the last review. In some ways the new design is better because it's no longer encased within a small frame and the updates are more regular.

On the other hand the blue, green and red colour scheme is pretty eye watering and the light blue text is the same colour as the links. There is also a special place in hell reserved for the online booking system. It is poorly laid out, unintuitive and 50% of the tests I carried out resulted in the whole thing breaking down. Dance City do have a blog however which has no entries in it at the moment but at least it's a start.
Score 5/10 (7/10)


Design The rebuilt version of DX's site is encased within a non resizable container. Content appears on the right within a fixed height frame with links appearing down the left hand edge.

Because pages load into the custom container the layout remains the same no matter what you're looking at. Navigation within sections is handled by a 'bread-crumb' trail at the top of each page. The colour scheme has been limited to black and orange.
Information Detailed information on classes and performances. Separate section for professional dancers on how DX can provide support. Comprehensive details on a wide range of other projects and services currently under way at the agency most of which appears to be up to date.
Last Update Latest date stamp I could find was 31st January.
Special Features Online ticket booking for in house theatre.
Summary The muted color scheme is a strong point of the site as is the comprehensive nature of the information on offer. The ticket booking system is fast and easy to use although it does throw out some slightly bizarre ticket prices that do not match the content on the main DX website. The choice by the designers to crush the content into a small fixed frame makes navigation difficult and reduces readability.

The faux 'text size' switch, a feature of so many sites these days, serves no real purpose. The content could be cleared up by making the images a fixed width above the text thereby giving the text a bit more room to breath. There is a video section on the site but it's empty.
Score 6/10 (7/10)


South East Dance
Design Berated last time out for a truly hideous design things have moved along significantly with a much cleaner, more professional look. The home page is dominated by a large, random image across the top line below SED's logo.

Links to the main sections of the site are located down the left panel with highlighted sections and summaries taking up the middle column. The right hand side is reserved for what appears to be latest news alerts but they are undated so it's hard to say. Pages of information are clearly laid out with images and well spaced text.
Information Covers most of the basics about community and learning opportunities, news, job opportunities, press releases, etc. SED also has a comprehensive breakdown of information relating to their dance for camera activities including a number of video excerpts from past films all presented in QuickTime format. SED is the only site to use the PayPal system to enable people to make donations to support the agency.
Last Update Couldn't determine.
Special Features Video Material
Summary A vast improvement over the previous effort. Information is presented clearly and consistently. Images are large and not overly compressed. The inclusion of video material is a plus but the site is let down because the videos have not been prepared for internet streaming correctly. Because of that you have to wait until to whole file has downloaded before it will play but there is no indication that this is happening. Also, some of the videos are missing from the pages where they are supposed to be.
Score 6/10 (3/10)


The Place
Design The country's largest and most well funded NDA has rebuilt from the ground up with a brand new pink website! Landing on their home-page presents you with an eye watering amount of information.

A list of links across the top provide the basic stuff, 'about us, faq's, contact' and so on. The left hand side houses links to more specific info about the school, community classes, Richard Alston Dance Company and a whole lot more. A calendar system on the right hand side provides direct access to performances at the Robin Howard Theatre.

Information pages are housed within the central column of the design with a large image and light grey text communicating the sites intentions.
Information Covers pretty much everything The Place has to offer all laid out within their own sections of the site replete with individual background colours.
Last Update Couldn't determine.
Special Features Online Ticket Booking.
Summary The designers of this site seem have been taking part in a competition to fit the most things onto a single page of any website in the history of the internet. You are overwhelmed by information from the moment you arrive. Most of the onscreen clutter is taken up by stuff that doesn't need to be there. Text resizing widget, mail this page widget, and so on.

A register/log in option is available although it's not clear why. Stripping away most of the clutter would improve things tremendously as would getting rid of the hot pink text! Uses the same ticket booking system and design as Dance City, obviousy they have been passing bad advice around to the other NDA's.
Score 4/10 (5/10)

We received a couple of emails asking "can you do any better with The Place website?" in some what of a sarcastic tone. So here you go, you decide!


Dance Northwest
Design One of the low points in the reviews the last time out was this NDA's website. However that has all changed with a much smarter new site in place. Flash based, top line navigation leads you to the main sections of the site. Sub links appear under each section image to lead you further into DNW's offerings. Text is large and well spaced with good use of images.
Information Comprehensive coverage of all that the NDA is about and what they are up to. The site offers the DNW 'Dance Link' which is available as a PDF download. The 'directory of dance' is a separate website all on its own offering details of classes, performances, training and much more.
Last Update Couldn't determine.
Special Features None
Summary Once again we have an NDA that has turned a corner. Although the design and information on offer are nothing revolutionary what is available is clear, well laid out and to the point. Like most of the NDA's though the site is very impersonal and it's not a place you would want to revisit very often, unless you really had to!
Score 6/10 (1/10)


Swindon Dance
Design Two years ago this website was a single page effort and it still is!
Information Just a list of what's on, how to find them and where to park! They also have a phone number and an email address.
Last Update Couldn't determine.
Special Features None
Summary Come on Swindon, you're not even trying!
Score 1/10 (1/10)


Yorkshire Dance
Design Located under the 'everybodydances.com' domain name the home of Yorkshire Dance has taken on a distinctly yellow colour scheme, bright yellow to be precise. The left side of the site is taken up with the navigation, a wide centre column takes up the majority of the screen space and the right column permanently shows the box office phone number and an' event of the month' link. The pages of content follow the exact same format.
Information As with most of the NDA websites the list of information they have is pretty comprehensive. Everything you could possible want to know is here. Separate sections for classes, performances and professional support are included.
Last Update Couldn't determine.
Special Features None
Summary Considering the YD website used to play music at you when you landed on the home page this re-tooling is a big step forward. It's clear, easy to use and the text is easy to read. It's all very competent and professional, just very very bland.
Score 6/10 (3/10)

Overall we've taken one step forward and two steps back. Some of the stronger sites from before have gotten weaker and there is still a complete lack of personality from any of the NDA's websites.

A few blogs, images and other touches would help remind visitors to both the websites and the real buildings that human beings work there.

Swindon Dance deserves a special mention for not trying one little bit to make their online presence any better. It's been two years and it's like the internet revolution never happened in Swindon!

[ CSS Table Layout by Veerle Pieters ]

blog comments powered by Disqus

The All Seeing Eye

British Dance Edition 2008