Thursday, January 12, 2012

Survey Results, Part 3!

Welcome to the penultimate post summarizing the results of the 2011 Great Bellydance Student Survey!

What do students want more of?  Less of?
We revisited our master list of belly dance activities and asked respondents to let us know what they'd like to see more of... where they might be oversaturated... and where the availability of each activity in their area is about right for their needs.

What do students want more of?  The top three responses were one-day workshops, academic lectures (with 55 respondents saying they want more), and costuming/sewing instruction.  Students are also interested in more makeup and hair tips, as well as music classes, concerts, and haflas.

Few respondents indicated "enough already!" on any activity.  A few felt that we don't need more bellydance fitness classes, choreography classes, or restaurant performances -- but most felt that the availability of all these is "just right."

The implications for teachers and event producers are obvious on this one.  Students are clearly hungry to learn more about the culture and music behind this art form, and to have more opportunities to listen to music and get together for more casual social events.  And there's a big opportunity for teachers to share their costuming, sewing, hair styling, and performance makeup skills, whether in standalone workshops or as part of a weekend workshop.

What are students' goals for 2012?
In the interest of helping teachers support their students in and out of the class setting, we asked respondents for their belly dance-related goals in the coming year.  Many of the most popular goals are closely linked to the topic we just covered -- learning more about culture, history, music, and costuming.  But the top three goals were to practice more, perform more frequently, and attend more workshops.  In addition, 39% are interested in trying a new style.

Again, the implications for teachers and event producers are fairly obvious.  Providing performance opportunities is key to attracting and retaining students.  But how can teachers help students with the most popular goal -- "practice more?"  Every student knows that practicing between classes is essential in getting the most out of the class and growing as a dance.  And most teachers can tell which students have been practicing.  So why is it hard for students to make time for practice?  Perhaps teachers could offer regular tips on how, what, when, and where to practice, so it's not so intimidating.  Encouragement via e-mail or other online communications between classes might also be appreciated.  And performances always drive practice -- so as performance opportunities increase, practice should also increase.

Why do students love belly dance?
Really just for fun -- but also because it may spark some ideas for teachers and event producers -- we asked respondents what it is they love most about this art form.  Not surprisingly, what keeps most students engaged is the outlet for creative or artistic expression that belly dance provides. Many also said they love entertaining people.  And quite a few mentioned the bonds and feeling of sisterhood that they feel with other enthusiasts.

Several respondents offered verbatim responses to the effect of "all of the above!"  And one simply said "This is who I am."

Stay tuned for Part 4
Our final installment will cover the verbatim responses to the final, open-ended question on the survey.  These include comments on the accessibility of classes and events, the belly dance community, instruction, music, and performing.

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