Quixotic Fusion: Dancing with light

I’ve been interested in the use of technology in circus for some time. The performance of Quixotic Fusion at TED merges dance and elements of aerial work to produce some interesting results.

To be honest the over all performance is not to my taste but it’s great to see companies succeeding in the tricky business of blending technology with live performance.

5 things that suck about Circus Artist’s websites

Here are 5 (of many) things that suck about the average circus artist website…

  • Flash. It’s amazing that in 2012 there are still people posting links to new websites that have Flash embedded. Flash doesn’t work on any iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), is buggy and is unnecessary. If you really want spinning animations or even some tasteful crossfading photos then HTML-5 is where you need to head. Leave the Flash in the 90s!
  • Splash pages. No one wants to land on a page that is just a photo of you with ‘click here to enter’ (BOOM,BOOM!) written underneath. It’s pointless and ups the chances of someone giving up on you before they get to see what you’re really about.
  • Homepages. Circus is a visual, live medium. Obvious I know but clearly some of you need reminding of this because you don’t have a video on your homepage. Why not?! Having great images on your site is important but not as important as showing what you actually do! Embeding a YouTube or Vimeo video is super simple, if you don’t want their logos involved they pay for a Vimeo Pro or VideoPress account (personally I think it’s fine, people trust YouTube and therefore more likely to click play). Don’t make a potential booker have to search for your video, it should be one of the first things they come across.
  • Use of lingo. Your site is probably not aimed at people who understand circus lingo so avoid specialised words and phrases.
  • Ego (I’m learning this one the hard way). You don’t want ego on a site that is about you. Sounds odd but it’s true. Your design, layout, copy, video, blog and social media should be aimed at a particular type of customer. You need to address their worries and wants rather than use your site as a chance to show just how really great you are. That’s not to say you won’t show your strengths, it’s just you want to do it in a manner that connects and engages rather than shows off. It’s possibly the most important thing to learn in marketing and particularly important for artists who have to promote themselves. If your sites going to be effective at driving you business then you need to study this stuff and more!

iPad Q&As from Circus Artists

Recently a few people have asked me questions about iPads and Apps so I thought it might be useful to write something specifically for circus artists.

For the record I should state that (sadly) I’m not on the Apple payroll and that other (lesser) tablets are available… Yes ok this is basically an unpaid advert for Apple but hopefully someone will find it useful!

Why do I need an iPad?

You don’t. But do you need more than 1 pair of shoes? The iPad offers enough computing power and screen space to read, watch movies, create simple documents (like invoices) and answer e-mails. And yet it’s small, light and strong enough to alway have in your bag. Just watch some iPad adverts, I can’t sell as well as Apple can!

Will it replace a laptop?

It could. Last year I went on tour for 7 weeks and managed perfectly well without my laptop, thanks to my iPad. With the release of iPhoto and iMovie Apps along with iWork means you can probably do all your office work from an iPad. Having said that, if you’re into serious photoshopping or powerhouse video editing then you might want to hang onto your trusty laptop or desktop (remember them!?).

What Apps do I need?
  • Numbers – Get your spreadsheets done. Cashflow, practice grids and intelligent yet pointless looking graphs.
  • Pages – Like Word but better. Great for your invoices
  • iMovie – Edit simple videos. Add transitions and titles.
  • iPhoto – Crops and adjust your promo photos
  • Paper – The best (and free!) note book app. Beautiful and useful!
  • WordPress – Update your site/blog on the fly
  • Twitter – keep up to date with the Twittersphere.
  • Facebook – How else will your friends find out about how great your gig is going
  • Reminders – Don’t forget anything ever again (OK not true but it is useful)
  • Reeder – Catch up with all your favourite websites from one place
  • Zite – discover new content that your interested in
  • TED – Download some of the best talks in history in the comfort of your own home and save them for when there is no WiFi!
  • Dropbox – You know all about Dropbox already, this App just makes it nice on your iPad.
Which iPad model should I get?

Don’t get the iPad 1 as some of the more hardware intensive apps won’t run on it (iMovie). At the moment Apple are still selling the iPad2 and iPad3, ebay is also worth a look but is obviously more of a gamble. Don’t get the 16GB version, you will fill it up. 32GB would probably be enough but depends on how long you go away for and how many movies you want to take with you. The 3/4G models mean you can connect to the net almost anywhere but you will have to get a contract and pay if you use it abroad! A better option might be to add tethering to your current mobile contract (if you have a smart phone).

What extras do I need?

Case is a good idea, stylus optional.

Will an iPad make me better at one arm handstands?

Probably not, but then there are Apps that can teach you almost anything 😉

Good Design

I’ve had this on standby for a while: the death of Steve Jobs seems to make now a good moment to post it.

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Feel free to imagine this is about choreography rather than design. And I know I can trust you to replace phrases like “use the iPad” with phrases like “watch the performance”, and so on.

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Stephen Fry TIME article
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1977113-1,00.html

What Ive and his team understand is that if you have an object in your pocket or hand for hours every day, then your relationship with it is profound, human and emotional. Apple’s success has been founded on consumer products that address this side of us: their products make users smile as they reach forward to manipulate, touch, fondle, slide, tweak, pinch, prod and stroke.

“It’s not for us to predict what others will do,” Ive says. “We have to concentrate on what we think is right and offer it up.” Ive’s focus and perfectionism are legendary. Any conversation with him is about hours of work, about refusing to be satisfied until the tiniest things are absolutely right. He’s most pleased with what consumers will never notice. He wants them to use the iPad without considering the thousands of decisions and innovations that have gone into what seems a natural and unmediated interaction.

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