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Feedback on your Feedback
Every time at JoY we ask you to fill in feedback forms. We do read these and take comments seriously and very much welcome suggestions for teachers and topics for future JoYs. Sometimes we can fix the problems you raise, sometimes we can’t. We thought it would be an idea to let you know our thoughts in your feedback and explain why we can’t act on some suggestions.
Venue - Rooms too hot or cold
Victoria Hall is a beautiful Listed Building, built in the Victorian era as a social gathering point for the workers at Salts Mill who lived in the village of Saltaire. Its fixtures and fittings cannot be changed in any way and it is not a purpose built dance studio. The heating system is pretty old and takes a considerable while to heat up the large rooms. If the day is cold, we try to get the heating on in good time, but it can take a while to have any impact. This can be made worse if the doors are propped open for whatever reason which is why we always try to keep all doors closed when possible. If a particular room is cold, we need to be told about it as soon as possible so we can try to do something to make it better.
In hot weather we hit the other end of this problem. The windows in many rooms are pretty old and are not really up to modern ventilation standards. Also we do get complaints from neighbouring houses if we have lots of loud music playing with the windows open, so have to be sensitive to the needs of the village residents, especially at night. It is highly unlikely that any form of air conditioning will be installed as it will damage the structure of the building. People's likes and dislikes to room temperature can vary a good deal. Our advice is to dress appropriately bring layers of clothing and dance shoes so you are comfortable.
Sadly we can no longer hire out the one room in the building that was set up as a dance studio and had mirrors. It is very unlikely that mirrors will be fitted to any of the beautifully decorated and period rooms as these are used for many non-dance functions.
We do read your comments and pay attention to likes and dislikes relating to particular teachers. Sometimes a teacher will cause upset for one reason or another, but at the same time we often get positively glowing feedback about that teacher from their fans. Where there is evidence of some negative incident we do check with dancers we know and trust who were there to try to get a balanced view. We very much welcome suggestions for alternative teachers. It can take a long while to secure someone to come to JoY, and some will always be out of our price range. We like to keep class sizes reasonable so cannot book teachers who charge super-high rates as we would have to charge impossibly high workshop prices which we feel people would be reluctant to pay.
Cultural differences can cause misunderstandings, made worse where English is the teacher’s second (or third) language. Often a teacher, using limited vocabulary in class, may sound more fluent than they actually are and they may cause offence without intending it when making more general comments. Even the methods used for teaching and learning dance vary across the world so what may seem an unsatisfactory session to UK dancers is just the way it is done elsewhere. Some teachers, from overseas in particular, may seem to have less than ‘professional’ approach to teaching than we expect in the UK. For example, doing such things as circulating students so all get the chance to come to the front, warm up and cool downs, giving out handout sheets and other things which we take to be normal practice in the UK may not be seen as necessary by such teachers. However be cause these are mostly very well known dancers/performers, who many students want to experience, we will sometimes book them.
JoY welcomes dancers of all sorts of ages, shapes and sizes, which is a good thing. Setting the level of a workshop is a difficult issue because there is no accepted ‘standard’ for different levels of bellydance and people have very varied views as to their own level and abilities. Teachers from overseas in particular can find it difficult to get levels right as standards vary considerably across the world. All we can do is to make sure the teacher knows the level the session should be and trust to their experience to get it right. Unfortunately some of our teachers, who have more experience as performers than as teachers, can often get this wrong. We often don’t know about this until after the event when we read the feedback. Where the teaching has been inadequate we would not invite that teacher back until they have gained more experience.
As part of the process of booking a teacher for JoY we ask for descriptions of their workshops and what level they want them to be. Unfortunately this can never be a very precise process. Not only is it difficult to condense a description to fit the small space on the schedule, but sometimes it is difficult to get a clear description from teachers.
Numbers in workshops
We never have more than 35 in a room, and that limit only applies to the larger rooms. We do not sell more places once a session is full. We will normally restrict numbers for sessions on stick and veil and try to put these into the bigger rooms. Remember, other festivals may cram in many more bodies and often charge more for their workshops.
Gaps between workshops
At JoY you can book into as many, or as few, workshops as you like. We do envisage that people will give themselves a break (or breaks) in the day rather than doing something in every time slot. The 15 minute gaps between sessions are really there to allow people time to move between rooms. The only way we could allow a longer gap between sessions would be to start the days earlier (and we already start pretty early) or reduce the number of workshops (which would increase the workshop price), or cut their length (and that would reduce your time with your teacher).
People have asked for a programme of performances, but this is simply not possible as most often we do not have all the information and things can, and do, change right up to the last minute for different reasons. Any pre-printed running order would very likely be inaccurate so we simply can’t release it. The length of the show is also rather difficult to control. All teachers are invited to perform and we try to keep individual performances to a set length. Dancers that are asked to perform more than once are often teaching different styles, which is reflected in their performances. Our star teachers get longer to perform. We pay a lot of money for them to come to JoY and it isn't everyday you get to see them perform live. The first interval in the show is deliberately quite long as some people, who may have been in workshops up to 6:15pm put off eating until this interval. We do have to allow long intervals as well to give people time to visit the facilities. We usually have over 200 in the audience, mostly women, and not that many toilets to go round!
We need to be fair to everyone; students, shopper and traders. After an experiment using a separate room (which is no longer available), we have had to go back to restricting the souk to the main hall. This limits the space available. It would be nice to have more traders, but having too many traders might impact on traders takings to the point where it isn't worth them coming to JoY. The stalls do vary from time to time, but some of our regulars earn their place by supporting JoY behind the scenes, and by providing good quality merchandise.
The ‘kitchen’ at the hall was altered a few years ago and is now a very small area with very limited space and no cooking equipment. Which is why we stopped doing the dancers tea. The cafe is a pop-up cafe not run by JoY as such, but by Mandy’s daughter Danielle to provide quick and economical food and drinks in house. Danielle does her best to calculate the amount of food needed because things that are left over are wasted. Unfortunately this can result in items not being available. Danielle gets your feedback and will try to supply what you want, but many things are simply not possible, for instance toast, where a toaster would be a possible smoke source. No one would be happy to have a fire evacuation because of a slice of over-done toast. There is a range of eateries in Saltaire and Shipley for people who need something more sophisticated.
Left luggage on Saturday
We make use of nearly every nook and cranny of the building on Saturday during the day so simply do not have anywhere secure to do left luggage at that time. On Sunday we have both the space, (on the stage) and the spare staff, to provide this service. It’s free so please avail yourself of the chance to not have to drag a large suitcase around from room to room! EXTRA: We are reviewing this service at the moment and may be able to use the Gallery on Saturday during the day. We will have to find an extra staff member on Saturday to police this service, because all our normal staff are very busy with other tasks, but we will have a think and see what we can do.