Dancing on the Web (March 1996)

by Raewyn Whyte
This was the inaugural post for a long defunct monthly column I used to write for DANZ magazine.
Most of the web sites mentioned are no longer available, so have been marked as such.

Dance is alive and well on the World Wide Web in 1996, yet in June 1994, dance was hardly to be found anywhere in cyberspace.

Pre-1994, there was a newsgroup-come-discussion list, <rec.dance>, for those involved in social dance and folk dance, and another, <alt.arts.ballet>, for ballet and modern dancers.  There was a specialised mailing list for Renaissance Dance, and a couple of semi-random dance mailing lists which tended to lose the thread very quickly.  There was information about several North American college degree programmes held on gopher sites, but most people found these difficult to access as they required technical knowledge and skills.  There were occasional announcements on the newsgroups about dance events, and reviews of events now passed, but it was almost impossible to get information about dance company touring schedules, or to read the most recent issue of any of the dance magazines online.

Around the middle of 1994, the dance community began to discover the World Wide Web, the part of the internet that lets you see graphical images and moving pictures, and hear sound clips.  Over the next 18 months, a steady stream of new website announcements began to appear in <alt.arts.ballet>, offering dance company news and touring schedules, contents pages and whole issues of dance magazines. Articles appeared, exploring dance in pregnancy, offering a series of still photos comprising an online Butoh performance, and several artists proposed opening up a virtual dance space for collaborative efforts.  

Some intrepid individuals and organisations began to compile dance link lists which would let them keep track of all the new developments.  The best of these link lists was maintained by James White in collaboration with Amy Reusch and Jon Wright, at [site no longer available].  At the time of writing (March 1996), their list includes all the new dance websites announced on alt.arts.ballet, grouped by type, and links to 158 ballet companies, 159 contemporary dance companies, 20 other kinds of dance companies,  multiple organisations, and a host of resources to do with almost every imaginable aspect of dance.

There’s information about dance agents and organisations, choreographic software, copyright, dancewear supplies, dance history and research, dance films and videos, dance medicine and therapies, dance and technology, dance films and videos, university job listings, and the seating chart of the New York State Theatre, home to New York City Ballet.  Though the links are mostly to North American sites, there are also links to sites in France and Germany, Britain and Sweden, Japan and Australia.

And what about New Zealand dance, you might ask.

Currently, NZ dance is almost invisible on the World Wide Web.  The only presence we have is  currently via a New Zealand dance links  page [still available but in need of updating] , listings posted to an international dance events announcement site [no longer available] , or announcements included in the newsgroups <nz.arts> or <alt.arts.ballet> by individuals.

We could be much more visible with just a little effort.

If you are connected to the internet, any or all of the following ought to be a regular part of your promotional activities.  And if you aren’t on the internet, then find someone who will help you by posting information for you.

It’s simple enough to create an electronic mailing list of dance contacts on the internet.  In a matter of seconds everyone on that list can receive your mail out for a fraction of the costs of printing it, placing it into envelopes and taking it to the post office.  Any document in digital form can be sent by email–word processing, graphics files, video or sound clips, and even spreadsheet files under certain conditions.

Posting to newsgroups is another very straightforward matter, and providing you observe the rules of conduct, will bring positive results.  Blatant advertising is unacceptable, so you need to take care that the information you post is appropriate to the newsgroup audience.  (The newsgroups are also a great place to ask for information from others.)

Posting dance events to the events listing service is just a matter of filling out an online form and ensuring that you have filled in all the required boxes.

Setting up a single web page for your dance event can also be relatively simple, once you have the text as an ascii file and your graphics as a GIF or JPG, and a basic command of HTML.  You will also need an access provider or server site to host your page.  (If you would rather have the page made  for you, look for a web page producer or internet consultant in your area.  Ask them about a sponsorship for your page, and offer to add their logo to your other promotional materials.)

I am the maintainer of the NZ dance hotlist mentioned above (also  an international dance links page A dance is worth 10,000 words) and am happy to add any NZ dance  links I come across or am told about. This page gets a steady stream of international traffic each week.  I am also happy to post dance events to the international events list for you.  You can contact me via email as raewyn@nzdancenews.co.nz

— Raewyn Whyte


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