NDA: Send Me An Email

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 Michelle Lefevre

Following our assessment of the National Dance Agency network on their ability to provide information via their respective websites we follow up with a look at just how well they respond to requests for information via email.

Article19 sent out three email messages that appeared to be from three people all needing information about one particular aspect of dance either for themselves or for another person. We created three email addresses, one from Hotmail.com and two from Yahoo.com, and sent messages from those accounts to the email addresses provided on each of the NDA websites.

The Emails.

The first message was from a twelve year old girl stating that she was keen to start taking classes in contemporary dance because a friend of hers had recommended them. She wanted to know what classes she could attend and how much they would cost and that she had never done any dance before.

Our second email was from a mother asking about dance classes for her two children, a boy of fourteen and a girl of eleven, because she wanted to improve their fitness levels and engage them in more physical activity. The email stated that the girl has taken class before (tap dancing) but the boy had not.

Finally we sent and email from a seventeen year old girl who wanted to enter full time dance training and needed more advice. The email was specifically non-specific about what type of training or style of dance the girl wanted to go into but the message did state she was definitely not interested in training in ballet. She also stated that she did not mind leaving the local area (dependant on the local area of the NDA).

We should make it clear at this point that none of these people are real, we just made them up for the purposes of doing the research. The first two emails were sent out early afternoon on a Thursday and the final email was sent at noon on a Friday. This was deliberate to see if the message would be forgotten about over the weekend or become lost under new emails by the time the new week arrived.

What Were We Looking For?

The most important factor we were looking for in the responses was the quality and detail provided in the reply from each of the NDAs. Was the information given of any use to the sender and was the question answered in a way that provided a reasonable level of service?

Almost as important was the speed of the reply from the NDA. In the email age we all expect instant responses, which is a little unreasonable, but anything more than 48 hours we considered to be a slow response especially considering that the information requested was not that detailed. A maximum time of five days was given to respond to any of the questions.

Our results are only indicative of the ability of an NDA to respond via email and not any other method of communication such as phone calls or on-site visits.

Question 1 : "which class for a 12 year old"
NDA Speed Information
Yorkshire Dance 30 mins Complete details of classes and courses for that age group and costs. Also provided link to website for further details. Very personal and encouraging to the sender to come and join in. Suggested calling if the sender had any more questions.
DanceXchange 90 mins Gave complete details of classes available and the costs. Also recommended youth performance group and gave cost's.
DanceCity 4 hours Details and times of two classes but no cost information. Recommended looking at their website for more information.
SouthEast Dance no reply n/a
Dance East no reply n/a
The Place 60 secs An auto reply stating that the person was on holiday and would be back the following week. Read below for more details on this.
Dance Northwest 1 hour NDA doesn't provide its own classes but gave both telephone and email information about several other places in the area that do provide classes. Offered to send out dance newsletter detailing performances. Also gave some information about contemporary dance.
Swindon Dance 2 mins
4 days
Offered to send out a brochure and pass email on to another person better able to reply. Second reply arrived 4 days later giving details of the classes available and the costs involved.
Dance4 1 day No information, offered to send out a brochure.

Question 2 : "which class for my kids?"
NDA Speed Information
Yorkshire Dance 60 mins Detailed information on the appropriate classes for each child. Specifically recommended Street dance style classes and gave cost information.
DanceXchange 2h 45m Recommended certain weekend classes and advised that all classes have an emphasis on fun and keeping fit. Also provided costs details.
DanceCity 4 hours No information other than recommending looking in the DanceCity brochure. Requested address to send out the brochure.
SouthEast Dance no reply n/a
Dance East 4 hours Gave detailed information on classes the two could attend together (although this was not stated as a requirement in the original message). Also provided cost details.
The Place 60 secs An auto reply stating that the person was on holiday and would be back the following week. Read below for more details on this.
Dance Northwest 1 hour Almost the same response as the one given above. Suggested if the children's school did not offer dance then they should contact the agencies recommended in the email for teacher training opportunities.
Swindon Dance 2 mins
4 days
Offered to send out a brochure and pass email on to another person better able to reply. Second reply arrived 4 days later giving very detailed information of the classes available and the costs involved.
Dance4 1 day Again they provided no direct information just a request for an address to send a brochure to.

Question 3 : "I want to train in dance?"
NDA Speed Information
Yorkshire Dance 3 Days Recommended Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Bretton Hall (both in the NDA's area). Mentioned other dance schools in the uk and provided a link to find out more.
DanceXchange no reply n/a
DanceCity no reply n/a
SouthEast Dance no reply n/a
Dance East no reply n/a
The Place 3 Days Stated that they could not provide any information unless the sender joined Artists Development (formerly Place Dance Services).
Dance Northwest no reply n/a
Swindon Dance 2 mins
4 days
Following the initial fast response there followed a detailed email providing additional links to information and recommendations for the next step to take. Also offered to speak to the sender on the phone if any more information was needed.
Dance4 no reply n/a

Conclusions

In terms of the depth of information provided Swindon Dance comes out on top here with the level of detail in the emails. Along with Yorkshire Dance, Swindon was the only NDA to reply to all three messages. The only black mark against Swindon is that it took them four days and the marketing officer kept recommending looking at their website. A website that received 0/10 in our review because there is nothing of any use on it. This leads us to wonder whether or not she has actually seen it?

Bottom of the tree are The Place and DanceEast. Although DanceEast replied to one of the emails they ignored the other two. The Place only replied to the first two emails after being asked by Article19 why they had not done so within 5 days. After our phone call they then replied to the emails despite the fact we told them that the senders were made up by us for research purposes! Asking someone to join Artists Development before they would reply to the request for the information about schools is ridiculous because The Place is a dance school (London School of Contemporary Dance) so sending out a prospectus after requesting a postal address would have been a more appropriate step to take we feel.

South East Dance did not reply to any of the emails because their email address does not work. We only found this out four days later when the error message arrived telling us that the emails were undelivered.

[ Update: October 5th, After contacting S.E.Dance by phone they told us that due to a recent move of office their email was no longer working. The error message we received was an email server error so we are not certain why simply moving offices would cause this. ]

Over all the responses from the NDAs were reasonably good. They provided the information asked for or at least offered to send out a brochure. It would be preferable for each NDA to have a policy of providing the information asked for within the email itself. It is disappointing that for reasons that are not yet clear they almost all failed to respond to the question about following a career in dance and where to train.

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