Everything You Need To Know!
Why do we take exams?
Exams provide a framework to learn the various dance steps and set levels for the children to progress through. Generally I have found that children enjoy the chance to perform and it’s very rewarding and motivating when they receive rosettes, awards, certificates, bannerettes etc. As we learn the exam work over a full term this repetition really helps the children develop their dance skills and the improvement is very clear to see.
We follow the IDTA syllabus (International Dance Teachers Association) which is the largest awarding body in dance, these qualifications are recognised across the world. The more advanced grades are equivalent to educational levels (e.g. GCSE/AS/A2) and hold UCAS points which can help gain entry into university and professional dance colleges.
What is involved?
At an exam session an examiner from the IDTA will visit the school and watch your child perform. The examiners are highly qualified, most have their own successful dance schools, are ex-professional dancers and often have 30+ years of experience so they really know what they are doing!
In the younger classes children take Rosette exams which involve performing two dances in a specific subject, the focus is on performance and gaining confidence. There are twelve rosettes in total to collect, two in each of the following subjects: ballet, tap, modern, theatre craft, national and gymnastics. Each rosette is a different colour and for the first exam you can also purchase a bannerette which is a sash to display the rosettes on. This is also personalised with your child’s name on it so is ideal to hang in their bedroom or take into school for ‘Show and Tell’! The children perform in groups of eight and I can go into the exam with them.
The next level is Pre-Juvenile Ballet Group Award which the Shooting Stars take in the second exam session of the year. This is the first proper ballet grade and the children demonstrate a selection of different steps and a dance. Again they can perform in groups of eight and I can still go into the exam with them. They receive an award, certificate and individual report.
In the Lunars and Solars classes we work towards Preparatory grade exams (in addition to rosettes) in either ballet, tap or modern. For these grades the children go into the exam in groups of three or four and I am not allowed into the exam so by this stage they do need to know what they are doing on their own. Again the children will be asked to demonstrate a selection of dance exercises and a dance – all of which we will have rehearsed in class a lot.
Attendance to classes in the run up to the exams is really important so that the children are well rehearsed and confident. I provide parents with a copy of the exam music and syllabus notes so you can help practice at home with your child – the more practice the better!
Awards, certificates and individual reports are presented following the successful completion of these exams. Please note that all examiners are looking to encourage young dancers and they are very positive.
When and where is the exam session?
I hold two exam sessions per academic year normally in December and March at the end of the Autumn and Spring terms. The summer term is then all Show work. This year exam dates are Sunday 3rd December and the next exams are provisionally booked for Sunday 18th March. Exams are held in the Dance Studio at Kenilworth School so the children are familiar with the space. The exam timetable will be put up on the noticeboard in the canteen a couple of weeks before the exams with the exact times of your child’s exam. Sometimes the examiner can run early or late on the day so these times are approximate.
If I feel your child is ready for their next exam you will receive a letter with all the details a couple of months before the exam date. You will then receive an email with a link to the new payment page on our website and you can pay very easily online. If you could pay as promptly as possible for exams it’s much appreciated.
Uniform – what to wear?
For the exams children wear their normal dance uniform with the relevant shoes for that exam i.e. ballet, tap etc. Hair should be in a high, slick, classical bun with no fringe, doughnuts or wispy bits!
I normally do a quick demonstration a couple of weeks before the exam for any new parents and on the day we can help if you are struggling so please ask. If you child has short hair that’s not a problem just ask me and I can advise on an alternative style.
The following is useful to bring on exam day: hairbrush, hair bands, hair grips, hair spray, hair gel etc. If you could also please make sure your child has no jewellery, nail varnish or pants on (as they can sometimes be seen).
ON THE DAY
- Please arrive around an hour before your child’s exam to get them ready in their uniform.
- Each child’s does need to be supervised by a parent/guardian as I go into the exam with most groups.
- We either use the hall or a classroom as a waiting area and children do need to be quiet so the examiner isn’t disturbed.
- There is some waiting around involved so it’s a good idea to bring things to keep your child entertained.
- Please keep an eye on the timetable and which exam the examiner is on so your child is ready when they are called for their exam.
- They will have a number pinned on them so the examiner knows everyone.
- After your child has finished their last exam you can go and don’t need to wait until the end of the session.
- We don’t find out exam results on the day however I will let you know as soon as I know.
- We will then have a presentation of the certificates/rosettes etc in class which parents are invited to watch to celebrate all the children’s hard work.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email, I know lots of you will already know this information however it’s good for everyone to know what to expect on the day. As always please get in touch it you have any questions and good luck to all!