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Utilisation of the Forum's Links section


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Each morning the Forum posts a number of links to ballet/dance-related articles from across the English-speaking world and, in doing so, we carry on a service that began back in the days of ballet.co.  It has become increasingly noticeable that the Links section is now consulted much less frequently than in the past.  This can readily be seen by scrolling through the Links homepage and looking at the ‘View’ figures.  For example, and in rounded figures, the Views for mid-March 2012 were 3300; 2018 saw 2600; and this year just 1100.  And this has happened as Forum membership has gradually increased.

 

There are no doubt several reasons for this decline and it would be useful to hear from members what they might be.  Some may have found the increasing use of Restricted Access on newspaper sites to be a nuisance and not worth bothering with, but there must be more to it than that.  We’d be interested to hear how members feel and, in particular, it would be useful to hear from those who use that section much less than in the past, or who have given up using it at all.

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A great service; a truly incisive public service which deserves every reward going.  My own use is perhaps not a great as previous but that is only due to work ... and thus entails massive catch up sessions.  All, however, come - at any time - with my sincere and overwhelming gratitude.  Without the links section this site would be a shadow of what it is and certainly can be.  Please do keep up the good work (a) if you can and (b) if you feel - overall - it is warranted given the declining numbers.  Those are sad reflections indeed.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I agree with Bruce. I check this 'topic' first thing everyday. It's hours ahead of anything from the US and for some reason there's been a decline in news postings from the US forum, making Balletco. by far the best source that I know of. Besides the UK press has the most enthusiastic and one of the most intelligent of coverages that there is, certainly outside of Russia anyway. I have no definite idea what would cause a decline, and I can understand your wanting to know why,  but I certainly wouldn't stop the posting. It's one of the best features on the ballet internet.

 

Added:

"Restricted Access" could be a reason. The english language Forums' own discussions could be another. Still your's is an invaluable addition to it all.

 

Added added: Your coverage of the Mariinsky in Washington DC has been of particular interest. 

 

Edited by Buddy
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It should also be pointed out that the Links contain not only reviews and articles, but quite a bit of dance news which doesn't necessarily make it into separate news items in the News part of the forum!

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I still go to this section of BCF every day, but I use it more selectively - that is:

1) I read reviews of productions I have seen, but not always all of them as some 'blog type' critiques have not established sufficient credibility with me to command regular attention; 

2) I dip into reviews which might help to broaden my knowledge or arouse my curiosity; and

3) I open links which might lead to an article of educative interest or provide an update on a current issue.

There is a tendency nowadays to take short cuts and, as the numbers visiting the links has diminished, so the YouTube and Instagram feeds have grown.

 

It would be really interesting to hear from BCF users who no longer consult the Links as to why that is. Time constraints? Overload? Alternative sources of information? Frustration with 'restricted access'?

 

Of course, continued thanks to Ian, Jan and John for their sterling work which is hugely appreciated and provides a real service to ballet/dance enthusiasts.

 

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I check the links each day but may not spend much time following them.  It is irritating when the links are restricted and I tend to take the view that it’s simply too much effort to sign up etc to see the full article.  I’m very grateful for the immense effort put in to provide such a comprehensive service.

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42 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

I check nearly every day and catch up when I skip one - so I’m probably not well qualified to answer the question, but would like to say how very useful I find them.

 

I echo this exactly!

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It’s actually the only section of the forum that I hardly ever read - I only have a look if there’s a review I specifically want to read. But this isn’t a change in usage - I’ve never been a regular reader of it.

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The links section is one of the first things I check when I go online at around lunchtime, both on a weekday and at the weekend. Huge thanks and gratitude to all those who provide the links on a daily basis.

 

Being abroad, I tend to access the links more selectively though (just as I contribute more selectively than I did in the past). The links that I do open tend to be those that relate to

- new productions at the Royal Opera House

- productions that I am lucky to see through a cinema screening

- updates on topics that are of interest

- sometimes it is just the title of the article makes me read an article

 

Thinking of other reasons as to why I have opened fewer links more recently

- there will have been a link here and there that I decided not to read as I knew from experience that I wouldn't be able to access the article anyway, or not without going through the newspaper's registration process

- if a favourite dancer is injured and hence does not feature in a production, the chances of reading reviews for that production are lower if I am not seeing the production anyway

- workload and other commitments

 

In terms of comparing the deceasing number of views of the links section with the increasing number of members and identifying potential reasons for the decrease in views, it'd be useful to understand how the number of those members has developed that actively use the site,  and whether analyses can be done based on the viewing patterns of active members (e.g., using a specific part of the forum or more than one)..

 

 

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This is an interesting point, especially as I think I myself consult the Links section less than I used to but I'm not sure why.  I log on the the Forum once or twice a day to check the Performance and Information pages but unless there has been the first night of a production I don't often bother with the Links. The restrictions imposed by certain newspapers are a nuisance but I tend to think if there aren't any relevant reviews there's nothing there for me; which is probably wrong. I wonder if it would make a difference if the links were put daily in the Information section with the days date at the top then people could click on that and see what's new. it may be better used this way if people don't have to come out of the 2 main topics and into another one.

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I check every day's links section, many thanks for them, tho sometimes a day late, to get an overall idea of what's being covered, and follow up some. If it's a restricted view one that looks interesting, eg in th Times, I may make a note to check the paper in the library.

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I am grateful for all the work that goes into providing the Links section. I look at the links frequently, both for reviews and for interesting articles - and I appreciate the variety of articles referenced. For example, the recent review of the Ray Bolger biography, with accompanying YouTube clip of him dancing, was charming. Thank you!

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On reflection, I might have a useful thought after all! I do find myself clicking on fewer links these days and that's because I can't think of a national newspaper reviewer whose views interest me, now that Judith Mackrell and Luke Jennings have stopped reviewing regularly and many newspapers have cut coverage. I'm much more likely to click on links for sites such as Bachtrack, The Arts Desk, the Jewish Chronicle or DanceTabs or for coverage of e.g. Sarasota Ballet.

 

Maybe others have given up on newspapers publishing reviews worth reading.

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I check the links less than I used to and i hadn’t really thought why that is until now. Partly maybe that I pick some direct from Twitter links eg Dance Tabs, New York Times, partly when I want to read ENB or RB reviews I google them myself, partly I’m less interested in the off mainstream items in the links - the stuff in the bottom half. It’s a great service though and I know a lot of effort goes into it. 

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I am deeply grateful to the Links team for their work.  I usually look at the compilation daily, and frequently read one or two linked items, but, like some of the posters above, I read fewer published items nowadays, given what I consider to be diminished quality of some reviews (mindful of my blood pressure, I won't read Lyndsey Winship, for example), but even so, I find it invaluable to know what's out there.

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I check it a couple of times each week, rather more if I have seen a particular performance or there is a new ballet that I am interested in. Like reading different reviews but am sometimes annoyed by the 'behind the wall ones. I think it's a great service and one I'd hate to lose.

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I visit the links page every day - but don’t then click on all the links. I just go for the ones that catch my interest. I doubt I would visit many of those I do, without being led to them by the links page, so would definitely like to thank the team for their efforts on our behalf in assembling them

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Trog - many thanks, that's an interesting observation that may go some way towards answering my question.

 

And on behalf of my two colleagues, thanks to one and all for the compliments thus far.  There's no plan to stop the service.

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I check it every day and it is the Links I read before News, then Performances.

I am deeply grateful to Ian, John and Janet for all their work, it's invaluable.

Also, they sometimes pick up an online review that isn't later covered in the newspaper concerned, certainly of my daily paper.

The international coverage is great.

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Papers and magazines are seeing declining circulations with the rise of social media, particularly for news. There is also more 'distrust' of critics these days - several times some posters have said they don't trust critics or think them relevant, so why on earth would they read them or use the TodaysLinks service? All up some in the audience (a growing number I suspect) are now very self-contained and flying that way very happily.

 

For myself, I don't trust all critics either but I value the mix of thoughts, and the putting of dance works into some perspective that is neither nearly all supportive gush or dismissively short. We need a mix of all the thoughts for dance (not just ballet), and criticism is still finding its new level in the mix. It's a sadness to me that meaningful criticism is shrinking - it matters which is why I support it. Boy, do I miss Clement Crisp, Ismene Brown and now Alastair Macaulay.

 

I'm pleased to hear there are no plans to stop collecting the links if some of the local press ones are pretty poor if truth be told. Also, Twitter tends to be a conduit which many fans plug into to get newsy updates and links to reviews and features soonest. But one place with collates them has always been a grand idea and remains a grand idea.

 

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It’s not so much that I don’t trust critics, it’s that some can spend a whole review saying precisely nothing.

 

I’ll name a name just to illustrate my point: Debra Craine (whose London-centricity annoys me besides) in The Times has never made me feel that I’ve learned or re-thought anything as a result of reading a review or interview she’s written, so I’ve given up. I think she knows her stuff and I don’t in general disagree with what she’s written: it’s just there’s no point reading it once you have a basic level of familiarity with the subject. I get that it’s written for a wider audience, but the retired writers Bruce mentions above managed to keep it interesting.

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1 hour ago, Lizbie1 said:

I’ll name a name just to illustrate my point: Debra Craine (whose London-centricity annoys me besides) in The Times has never made me feel that I’ve learned or re-thought anything as a result of reading a review or interview she’s written, so I’ve given up. I think she knows her stuff and I don’t in general disagree with what she’s written: it’s dance-centricthere’s no point reading it once you have a basic level of familiarity with the subject. I get that it’s written for a wider audience, but the retired writers Bruce mentions above managed to keep it interesting. 

2

 

I rather like Debra Craine and find her reliable and fair to ballet and contemp - some writers can seem overly drawn to one or the other. I read her (and others) if I've not got to something or if I'm interested in 'sniffing' the air for a rounded overall opinion on a new work. She always seems to be very sensible and usually on the money - for me anyway. Don't have a down on Craine re London only reviewing only - she is Arts Editor and very much tied to the desk. Good really that an Arts Ed is as dance centric as she is. Away from London Times readers are still catered for with Donald Hutera often reviewing for them - he got to the Cathy Marston Victoria premiere in Leeds for example.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Bruce said:

Don't have a down on Craine re London only reviewing only - she is Arts Editor and very much tied to the desk. Good really that an Arts Ed is as dance centric as she is. Away from London Times readers are still catered for with Donald Hutera often reviewing for them - he got to the Cathy Marston Victoria premiere in Leeds for example

 

The Times’ coverage of theatre and opera outside London is generally excellent, but it’s a different story for ballet. Hutera’s review of Victoria was a rare exception: BRB and NB generally have to wait until they visit Sadler’s Wells before they receive coverage in The Times, and I can’t recall the last time a dancer from either company was featured. I’d probably be less resentful if Craine hadn’t found the means to write about the Royal Ballet’s gala in Hull as well as reporting from Copenhagen and New York.

 

I don’t disagree with the general drift of Craine’s reviews, I just find nothing in them to stimulate me.

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7 hours ago, trog said:

It appears that if you aren't logged in, you don't count as a view. I don't login unless I have something to post, which isn't that often. I still check the site daily though.

 

Really interesting point. My phone won't "remember me" for BCF and I am therefore checking the Links without signing in. In fact, I now use my phone to read the Links much more than I do from my PC, which is, of course, signed in. That wasn't the case until about a year ago.

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3 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

The Times’ coverage of theatre and opera outside London is generally excellent, but it’s a different story for ballet. Hutera’s review of Victoria was a rare exception: BRB and NB generally have to wait until they visit Sadler’s Wells before they receive coverage in The Times, and I can’t recall the last time a dancer from either company was featured. I’d probably be less resentful if Craine hadn’t found the means to write about the Royal Ballet’s gala in Hull as well as reporting from Copenhagen and New York.

 

 

 

Wrt to Northern Ballet, I think your mind must be playing tricks - Hutera covered the Marston Jane Eyre premiere in Doncaster, The Watkins 1984 premiere in Leeds and the Nixon Little Mermaid premiere in Southampton. Craine covered Tindall's Casanova in Norwich - not the premiere but a month ahead of it getting to London. Northern has been much more interesting these last few years as David Nixon has given commissions to other choreographers. And by and large, critics have responded as the above indicates. Hopefully, the new BRB artistic management will put on bills that attract more coverage.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Bruce said:

 

Wrt to Northern Ballet, I think your mind must be playing tricks - Hutera covered the Marston Jane Eyre premiere in Doncaster, The Watkins 1984 premiere in Leeds and the Nixon Little Mermaid premiere in Southampton. Craine covered Tindall's Casanova in Norwich - not the premiere but a month ahead of it getting to London. Northern has been much more interesting these last few years as David Nixon has given commissions to other choreographers. And by and large, critics have responded as the above indicates. Hopefully, the new BRB artistic management will put on bills that attract more coverage.

 

 

No tricks - I just don't think that's a lot over the span of several years when every revival at the Royal Ballet is covered as a matter of course. And while much of BRB's recent programming hasn't inspired me to make the rather expensive trip, I don't think it's fair to say it's been so poor as to excuse the Times' neglect.

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