‘Australia Dancing’: Vale

It is with deep regret that I note that Australia Dancing, the National Library’s dance portal,  has ceased to be an active website. ‘Australia dancing leaps into Trove’ we are told when we open the site’s URL www.australiadancing.org.

Well Trove has its place as a search engine, or discovery service as it is called, and its newspaper service is absolutely brilliant. But it is not the ‘exciting and rapidly expanding service for dance researchers’ it claims to be in the redirection notice. If I look up Giselle for example I get a variety of unwanted items—a photo of someone whose name is Giselle and who recently got married in Canberra; a book called Sweet Giselle available from Amazon for which the description begins:

Giselle thinks she has the perfect life. Her fine and sexy husband, Giovanni, is obsessed with his perfect wife and gives her whatever her heart desires. Giselle thinks her husband can do no wrong. What she doesn’t know is that Giovanni’s seedy dealings put her in danger;

a whole bunch of Giselles under ‘People and Organisations’ who have nothing whatsoever to do with dance; and so on. At least under ‘Maps’ it says ‘No results’, which is better than what comes up for Australian Dance Theatre, which has four results under ‘Maps’ the first of which refers to editions of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.

Times change and money is short but it is regrettable that the Australian dance community has lost what Alan Brissenden referred to in his book Australia Dances as ‘that essential resource’, especially given that Australia Dancing was established using specifically focussed public money. But then the site has been badly neglected recently. It has needed a redesign for some years. Many of the entries are now out of date and some contain incorrect information. I am not sure whether the material will ever be updated or corrected now that the site has taken a flying leap.

Vale Australia Dancing because moving it to Trove has destroyed its integrity as a dance resource.

Michelle Potter, 3 July 2012

10 thoughts on “‘Australia Dancing’: Vale

  1. I thought it was me being behind the times, when, on last weekend, I went looking for some info on the Australia Dancing website and, as happened to Michelle, was redirected to the TROVE website. I presumed it would be housed in a separate, discrete wing of TROVE given the redirection puff, but no, as you point out, reams of undifferentiated material appears and I finally gave up my search. Given Michelle’s post I take it this move is very recent. I do hope the powers that be can find a way to isolate the Australia Dancing material within TROVE.

  2. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks so much for writing this up. I am terribly disappointed to hear that Australia Dancing has been absorbed into Trove. It was such an amazing resource for anyone looking for specific information on Australian dance– and certainly as a jumping off point into further research. This feels like such a step backwards in terms of dance research and access to resources…

  3. Thanks for your comment Jordan. What is especially unfortunate too is that there is no dictionary of Australian dance in published form. Arts encyclopedias tend to lump dance with something else rather than treating it as an art form in its own right while international dictionaries may mention one or two Australian artists, but that’s it. And while Australia Dancing set out to be a way of highlighting the dance material in the National Library (and eventually, it was hoped, in other Australian institutions) it also functioned as a focussed dictionary-like resource to fill a huge gap. It is a step backwards from many points of view.

  4. With respect, while the move to Trove may give users ‘a richer navigational experience’, in the case of well known people or companies the user is faced with so much irrelevant material that it is more than tempting to give up and go elsewhere. To have to tailor a search may suit the most dedicated dance researchers but I suggest that simplicity/ease of experience is what attracted many who used the original site. Perhaps, however, it would be useful if the kind of detailed information you have given in your link were placed on the redirection notice. And why on the redirection notice does the link to Lists take the user to what seems like a wildly erratic list of what used to be included on the original site as an alphabetical list easily searched via an alphabet wheel? The move has destroyed the site’s integrity as a dance resource.

  5. Thanks for this post Michelle. I agree with you that this is a great loss. And I also agree (as I have mentioned in an earlier comment on your site) that the Australia Dancing website got very out of date before it was taken down – my visits to the ‘new’ section displayed the same old result for well over a year. Nothing seemed to get updated – the entry for Chunky Move, for example, never mentioned Obarzanek stepping down. Another example – no mention anywhere of Warumuk – surely a collaboration of note. All very sad.

  6. It’s shame too that the list of dance oral histories was not fully updated before the site was archived. A number of significant recordings made over the last year or so do not appear. Nor was the potential, and indeed capacity of the original site to deliver audio and moving image ever fully realised.

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