Dance examinations can be a scary thought for some students (and for some parents!)
However, they can also be the highlight of the year. They are a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their dancing to an independent eye; showing how their hard work and dedication has gone into what they have learnt, as well as how much they enjoy it.
Examiners are not always as scary as they might seem.
They want to watch the students enjoying themselves and trying their best: whilst looking at all the technical requirements, in order to give the students the best possible marks. Having the ability to do well in a dance exam is a mixture of hard work, plenty of practice and confidence.
Exams require lots of work physically and mentally, and when it is over there is often a huge sense of relief.
Good preparation (and remembering to breathe!) will see you through a successful examination.
Here are some tips to make your examination experience a positive one...
Spend some time practicing your exam work at home (with a practice CD if you are given one). Remember you need to know the names of all the exercises and where you start for each one. From practicing you will feel more confident, helping you to do well in your exam.
Attend all classes and rehearsals
Most schools will do extra exam coaching classes and maybe even a mock exam. These may provide the students with some last minute tips as well as helping to familiarise them with the exam process and etiquette.
It is important students are well rested and relaxed in the lead up to an exam. Students should ensure they have a good nights sleep, so they are physically and mentally fresh for their exam.
Uniform and Grooming
Presentation is an important part of any dance exam. All jewellery and nail polish should be removed, and hair should be neat as per your teacher's requirements, with no loose bits coming away. Uniforms should be clean and in good condition. Set your uniform out a few days before to ensure you have everything you need.
On the Day
Arrive 1 hour before your exam to allow warming up/practicing, a check of your hair and uniform from your teacher, and to have any necessary ribbons and numbers pinned on.
Always use your best manners and show respect towards your examiner. Greet the examiner and music operator at the start, and thank them both at the end. Remember not to talk to your friends during the exam.
Make sure you listen carefully to the examiners instructions. This will ensure that you know what movements the examiner wants you to do.
Show the examiner that you care and are serious, by standing up straight and still in the appropriate position whilst waiting for the next instruction. Really try not to fidget, even if you have an itch it will have to wait until after the exam. Move to the next exercise by walking or running to the correct starting place like a proper dancer.
Show the examiner that you enjoy dancing, even if you're nervous in your exam. Sometimes smiling can actually make you feel more confident.
It is easy to let one mistake affect the rest of the exam. Try to remember each exercise is just one small part of the exam; so small mistakes really don't matter. The examiner knows that a lot of students get nervous when it comes to exams and will have seen many mistakes before. If you make a mistake, don't panic, just breathe and move on.
Think about the music you are dancing to and the movement you are making is it sharp, smooth, quick or slow? Try to use your feelings to show the difference in the music and these movements.
Keep some perspective, remember the examiner is just one person, who for a small part of one day, has come to see you dance. Go in with confidence, try your best and enjoy it! The examiner wants you to do well, this is your chance to show how wonderful you are and what amazing skills you have been learning.
For an insight into examinations through the eyes of the student, teacher and examiner you can watch a short video about examinations with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) by clicking here.
Good luck to anyone who is about to undertake a dance examination.