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panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Martin French

A recent piece on the 'A Younger Theatre' website (weird name alert! Ed!) highlighted the fact that all too often, when arts organisations are using Twitter and, to a lesser degree, other social networking websites they spend far too much time marketing and not enough time talking.

So, here in TheLab™, we thought what better way to spend a Sunday off work than to read through more than 1000 "tweets" from our beloved National Dance Network to see how much time they spend talking about themselves and others.


For the purposes of this piece we looked at the Twitter accounts of Dancebase, DanceXchange, Dance City, Dance 4, Yorkshire Dance, The Place, South East Dance and Dance East.

To help us out there are, mercifully, a few toys around the web that can help analyse how individual Twitter accounts are interacting with the world.

We were able to tell how often an organisation replies to another Twitter user directly (by means of the @account responses) and how many times they "re-tweeted" somebody else's information. These numbers are measured as a percentage of their total number of tweets.

Additionally we looked at the last 100 messages they posted (as of Sunday May 8th) to determine how many of those messages were marketing orientated (specifically used to sell tickets or promote a particular service) and how many had no connection whatsoever to the organisation or a performance or activity they may be staging. These are hard numbers, not a percentage.

Chart Action

Agency Followers Tweets %Replies %Re-Tweet Marketing(100) No Connection
DanceXchange 1103 134 6 14 69 0
The Place 3042 829 8 9 87 0
Dance City 834 196 6 15 61 2
Dance Base 1326 643 22 11 38 2
Dance 4 1769 373 4 8 89 0
South East Dance 265 104 38 28 14 7
Dance East 712 250 7 38 42 0
Yorkshire Dance 706 84 6 7 43(84) 1
Article19 579 1335 46 3 0 ?
DanceUK 3062 2448 1 2 ? ?

The numbers tell us that Dancebase, the only NDA in Scotland, and South East Dance are far more likely than any of the others to actually reply to people using their Twitter account.

As for the rest? They all fall into single digits with the more tweets an organisation has published making the @reply numbers more damning as an illustration of their relative engagement or lack thereof with the public at large.

Although South East Dance has only tweeted a grand total of 104 times they have still managed to accumulate a response rate of almost 40%.

So called "re-tweeting" can be a good and a bad thing. If you only ever re-post information from other people then you might be perceived as being a bit "click happy" and not really paying too much attention to your followers.

Dance East comes of best/worst in this scenario with 38% of all their Tweets being rehashed from somebody else and South East Dance falling into second place with 28%. All the others seem to have their clicking fingers under control with single digit percentages across the board.

Marketing is where most of them all fall down, cartoon style, into the floor of the canyon. Both Dance4 and ThePlace hitting 89 and 87 respectively from their last one hundred Tweets on the "buy something from us" scale.

More often than not both of these dance organisations try and hit you with the same marketing message for the same thing with multiple tweets in a short space of time. We feel sure that goes down well with the followers.

Only South East Dance, again, and Dance East keep their numbers below half, although only just in the case of Dance East.

Nothing To Do With Us

The final column shows us how many times an NDA sent out a piece of information which had nothing to with the organisation in any way.

As you can see, it's a pretty poor state of affairs. Four of them sent out nothing and the rest should probably have a meeting to discuss their "social networking strategy". South East Dance, based on only 104 tweets, once again comes out on top with an approximate 7% rate of unrelated information sharing.

Perhaps the final number is easier to explain when you check how many of the NDA's actually follow dance companies on Twitter to keep up to date with what they're doing.

Article19 follows most dance company Twitter accounts (as many of the active ones we can find). Comparing our list to those of the NDA's tested we see that Yorkshire Dance doesn't follow any dance companies at all. DanceXchange follows one, ThePlace follows five, Dance City follows six, Dance 4 follows one, and Dance East follows three.

Once again, South East Dance wins the day because they follow eleven dance companies.

We've included numbers at the end for Article19 and Dance UK for you to use by way of a comparison. If you're wondering about the pathetically low reply and re-tweet numbers for DanceUK then wonder no more. More than 98% of their 2448 tweets were done automatically via their Facebook account, a common problem and a common source of irritation among Twitter users.


Of course Twitter is only one metric for measuring the level of interaction but the internet is, if you haven't noticed, a pretty big deal and thus far a lot of well funded organisations, based on this evidence, are not too good with the communications.

We feel sure somebody will get right on this.

[ A Younger Theatre ]

  • Yorkshire Dance

    We'll get right on this.

    Yorkshire Dance

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