Dance exams are an exciting time for children. It is an important day that should be enjoyed. Exams give a child a sense of achievement and can improve confidence. Exams provide participants with skills that they can transfer into their everyday life. Children learn that hard work and preparation helps them to achieve goals.
How to prepare:
Good preparation will ensure you have a successful exam. Ensure you have practiced all your steps, dances and theory in the months before your exam and you know them all. Practice at home. Show your mum, dad, grandparents, neighbours and visitors to your home your dance. This will help with your knowledge, presentation skills and confidence. The more confident you are the better you will do in the exam.
Listen to your teacher in class. She will guide you in what the examiner is looking for including technique, presentation, musicality, rhythm and style. You could also book some private lessons with your teacher. This will improve your confidence and knowledge.
Have a good night sleep so you can concentrate. Don’t forget to have a good breakfast before your exam. You want to focus on your exam and not on your rumbling tummy. Food will give your body fuel and energy for your special day.
Ensure you don’t miss any lessons (unless you are sick of course) throughout the year. Each lesson you miss, means you have missed vital information that will put you behind.
Ensure you have removed all nail polish and jewellery. Make up is not required for exams.
Arrive at your exam 45 minutes before you are required to start. Being rushed and worried if running late makes children feel uneasy and doesn’t give them the best start to their special day. It also doesn’t allow time to warm up.
What to pack:
Grooming and uniform should be exceptional for exams. This is your special day and you want to make a good impression. Plus there are marks for presentation. Presentation includes your grooming as well as your face, eyes, arms, footwork and personality.
Ensure you have packed:
Stockings and a spare pair of each type.
Clean Ballet, Tap, Jazz shoes
Don’t forget to pack a spare pair of stockings. You don’t want to go into your exam with holes or a ladders in your stockings. You always seem to put a hole in them when you haven’t got a spare. If you get a hole and you don’t have a spare, the exam student will be upset which isn’t a great way to start an exam, you want them to be happy, calm and confident so they can do their best. Plus, it doesn’t make a good impression, particularly when you receive marks for you presentation.
Pack your ballet, tap and jazz shoes and jazz boots or joggers for hip hop. Ensure your shoes are clean and freshly painted. In higher grades of ballet you will need ballet ribbon sewn onto your shoes. Check your elastics and/or ribbon is sewn on tightly. You don’t want these to come loose in your exam. Check your tap screws are not coming out. To do this run your finger over the tap plate and you shouldn’t feel the screws. If the screws are higher than the tap plates, they will scratch the floor. If you are unsure ask your teacher. Note: Only tighten the screws if they are overhanging the tap plate. Don’t tighten the screws on the tap plates unless the screws are scratching the floor as the tap plates being loose are how the tap sound is created.
If you are a ballet student you will need your ballet theory book with your name on it.
Don’t forget to bring hair spray and bobby pins. Your hair may need a touch up before you enter the exam room or in between exams if you are doing more than one.
Bring Water and snacks (although you can’t take these into the room). You need water to be well hydrated. If you are doing a number of exams and you are in for a long day, you may want some snacks for in between exams. Make sure your snacks are not messy ones that might spill on your leotard and make a mess or stain.
Bring something quiet to do while you are waiting. Everybody needs to be quiet while waiting for their exam. There is normally another examination being taken while you wait and you want them to have quiet so they can concentrate. You wont want distractions from outside noise while you are performing in your exam.
Guide for parents:
Your child needs to feel confident for the exam to give their optimal performance. Try not to make them feel worried, as this will impede their exam. Fill them with confidence and encourage them. Be positive with them. Don’t place any expectation on them on the marks they will receive. Just participating in the exam will improve their confidence and skills to use for life. It is an accomplishment in itself. Say to them you are happy with them as long as they do their best. (This is regardless of the mark they receive). Tell them how proud of them you are. If you panic or stress out, so will they. If they are at their happiest they will perform their best. Arrive with hair done and get changed into your exam attire at the studio.
Guide for exam students:
If you have a list of your steps, perhaps read this on the way to your exam and imagine yourself doing each step and your dance. This will help you refresh your work. Think about the technique required for each step. These are the things your teacher always reminds you of. Example, press your heel forward when pointing at the side. Or pressing hard for your tap steps to ensure all your beats are clear. Or stretch your arms. There are many more that your teacher is always reminding you of.
During the exam remember exam etiquette. No talking during the exam and no fidgeting. Stand still in between steps. If you make a mistake try not to worry about it and let it affect the rest of your exam. Try to put it behind you and think about the next steps so you can do your best.
Perform your dance as if you were onstage. Give it your best shot. Hold your head up, smile, use your face and personality.
Remember this is your special day. Do your best, enjoy your exam and don’t forget your smile.
Jeanette Briggs Dance Academy offers a variety of dance classes for children as well as adult tap class in St Helens Park, NSW, south-west Sydney. For more information phone: 0418 472 652 or visit www.dancejbda.com