You don't have to be a dancer to attend their conference...

I recently attended the Dance/USA National Round Table in Portland, OR, and thought I'd share a few things from the event... First, I am scared to try and move in any way that might be considered "graceful."

On my second day at the conference, I decided to check out one of the "Get up and Move!" morning warm-up sessions.

"Heck," I thought, "They can't be doing much more than stretching at this ungodly hour."

When I peeked in the session room, it looked like the cast of Cirque du Soleil warming up for a show. This was nothing like my high school P.E. stretch-out activities.

I walked past the session room and got a donut instead.

Speaking of Cirque du Soleil, please check out their Web site for an example of how extreme site design can be a hassle for visitors.

While it's important for arts organizations to offer aesthetically pleasing and stimulating Web experiences, it is equally important to offer alternative sites for users with older computers. If you're going to include fancy Web elements, such as Flash animation, on your site, be sure to offer a non-Flash version as well. Otherwise, you could be shutting out a large portion of your audience.

By the way, the clown that greets you on the Cirque du Soleil front page is absolutely terrifying:

Cirque du Clown

"Mommy, I don't want to go into that Web site. Please don't make me go."

It was also confirmed during my time in Portland that technology is unavoidable. Many of the discussions at the Dance/USA conference revolved around technology. Dance company administrators seem to be very interested in how their organizations can begin using MySpace, YouTube and other popular Internet tools to increase audience and potential audience awareness.

YouTube works especially well for arts groups with visually gripping programming. The site is a free service that allows you to upload and share videos. Click here to visit the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) Web site and read about some documentary filmmakers that are using YouTube to share their work about the rebuilding of New Orleans.