New World Listings

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 Michelle Lefevre

Getting the word out about dance performances happening across the UK - or anywhere else in the world for that matter - is a big challenge facing dance companies old and new. In our ever more "online" world people want to have information available at their fingertips, they want it on their cell phone, PDA or iPod and they want these devices to remind them when new events are going to happen because people are busy, they're forgetful and, let's face it, they're lazy as well.

Upcoming.org is a website that could have been tailor made for the dance profession. It's ease of use, powerful features and group functionality make adding multiple performances a breeze for even the most technologically challenged user and this being the internet, it's all free.

The site works using a number of basic principles. Firstly; Areas of the country are broken down into "Metros" like London, Manchester, Edinburgh, etc, etc. We're focusing on the UK but most countries in the world are covered and broken down in the same way. Within each Metro are where the "venues" reside.

Venues are added by the site's users as and when an event is scheduled for that particular venue. Once a venue's information has been entered for the first time any other user can add an event to that venue simply by typing its name into the appropriate box on the "new event" entry form.

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Because the site is using advanced new web technology it will conduct a 'live' search as you type the name of a venue and display the ones that are closest to what you are typing. You simply select the correct venue and the complete information is entered for you automatically. If the venue has never been entered before - Article19 has added dozens of dance venues over the last few months - then you can enter the details yourself for both you and the sites other users to take advantage of.

The additional information you enter is all fairly self explanatory such as the name of the show, details about the production, date, start time, web links and so on. Once you have finished entering all the details you simply push the 'add event' button and the performance will be entered into the system for you and everybody else to see. You can also keep information private if you wish but there is very little reason to do so unless a new event is in your own house.

Since Upcoming maintains a database of all the venues that are entered is is simple for you, as a user, to build up a picture of what is coming to your favourite venues and when because the site has been built to promote all types of public event. The site will also check to see if the event has already been added and if it finds a match will offer you a warning to cancel adding the entry.

Each event that is entered comes with full integration with either Yahoo Maps (for the USA and Canada) or Google Maps for Europe, Asia and most other places. Just click on the link and the system will provide you with the exact location of the venue and directions if you need them.

Once events are entered the site really gets going with great features.

The Power In The Event

First of all you can set reminders to be sent to you for any event currently on the site no matter who entered it. These reminders take the form of either text messages sent to your cell phone or an email message sent to a designated mail account. Reminders can be sent hours or days in advance depending on your preference. You can also configure your preferences to remind you automatically about any event that you enter so you don't have to set each one individually.

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If you want to maintain a list of events locally, on you own computer or for synchronizing to you PDA or cell phone, then it's just one button push away. Any group, tag listing or individual users entries can be subscribed to using your own calendar application (such as iCal on OSX Macs) and from there you can send the information to your portable device of choice. You can also subscribe to any number or combination of Metros, tag lists or groups using an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader of your choice of which there are many for all computer platforms.

Setting up any of the subscription services is as simple as selecting the option on the Upcoming website and following the on screen instructions which for most features involves just one step.

Yet more power is offered to users with the "Group" feature. Essentially any user can set up a particular group - in our case it's a national listings group for all contemporary dance performances - and any user can subsequently join that group and add events or performances to it. This is the perfect way to set up collection points for related events in a particular geographic area not covered by the Metros feature or to follow a particular company or anything else you can think of.

Some of the events in Article19's performance listings were not added by us but by other users of Upcoming, yet they still appear in our listings none the less. This is perhaps one of the most powerful features of Upcoming, for the dance profession at least. Listings are perhaps one of the most time intensive jobs for any publication to maintain. If users of Upcoming across the country are adding events and consolidating them into groups then the whole task becomes much easier, much faster and will cover a more diverse range of events.

One off performances, particularly by new dance makers, can easily get lost in the noise of most listings magazines and sites, if they will list it at all, so Upcoming democratises the entire process. All events are treated equally and since Group owners maintain full control of their group irrelevant additions, either accidental or malicious, can easily be removed.

The same subscription features apply to Groups just as they do for anything else on Upcoming with email alerts, RSS and calendar integration.

Off Site Power

You may notice in the right hand column of Article19, on most pages, a box containing the next ten performances in our Upcoming group. This is yet another feature enabling content to be distributed beyond the Upcoming website.

Information located within any group you are a member of can be loaded automatically into any other website on the internet by adding a few lines of html code, provided by Upcoming, and, if your adventurous enough, styled to matched your own website.

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Because the performance information comes from one source, no matter how many different groups or websites publish the information you enter you can guarantee the details will be the same.

Upcoming offers many more features but we have covered the main ones here. The notification, grouping, subscription and publishing features are worth their weight in gold to the dance profession. Offering services like these to audience members, potential or otherwise, would be a massive technological and financial undertaking yet Upcoming provides them all for free and many more features will come in the near future as the service develops.

Although it started life as an independent startup it has since been bought by Yahoo so you can be assured that the service will be around for many years to come and will almost certainly remain free to use for the foreseeable future. Like Flickr, another Yahoo acquisition, they may introduce a low cost, paid for service that simply provides additional features but this is by no means inevitable.

We can pretty much guarantee that all of Upcoming core feature will remain free for anyone to use, so why aren't you using it?

[ Upcoming.org ]
[ Article19 on Upcoming ]

[ image by Julien Tromeur ]

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