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Preparing for a Ballet Examination or Class Award Blog

Preparation Period

The Dance Centre Peregian Springs, as in thousands of dance schools world wide, actively encourage students to take part in ballet examinations to build their self confidence and self esteem, to establish good work ethics and to strengthen their dance training. Students (and parents) should view taking examinations as a highly rewarding and challenging event with many weeks of pleasurable dance class preparation beforehand.

Examinations should be viewed as a rewarding experience for young dance students and they go a long way to helping them achieve long and short-term goals in dance. They are a great learning tool too, by offering students a platform to show their understanding and competence in the dance technique required.

The weeks before a ballet exam should be an exciting, challenging and highly pleasurable journey. It is the journey that should count and not the actual exam or result as that is only the opinion of one person based on one class/examination day. A student may be nervous or flustered and not do their best but still have progressed enormously in their technical ability in their preparation weeks before the ballet exam.

Good preparation is always the key to good results and attending all your pre-exam classes, maybe watching the syllabus at home on a DVD, listening to the music and going through any dances that need to be performed solo will all go towards a good result and less nerves on the day. Most dance associations like the Royal Academy of Dance can be accessed online via a free app and then the relevant syllabus can be downloaded for home use on most phones, tablets and computers for around $20-30. Parents should not try and be dance teachers at home as their children will instictively know that they are vastly under experienced. A DVD from the relevant dance association is a terrific way for children, even the very young, to get in some extra practise just by watching.

As teachers, our overall aim is to prepare the students so well that they can go in to their exams feeling confident and able to fully enjoy the moment. By attending all their dance classes leading up to the exams the students should aim to have a great sense of fun and satisfaction in the exam preparation. By working hard and preparing well they will be able to shine in the exam and feel proud of themselves.

The examiner will assess candidates on the standard of their technique and performance abilities and marks will be awarded that will help define their strengths but also pinpoint any weaknesses in technique that need improvement.

Dance Centre Examination Workshops

Workshops and extra lessons are usually offered in all dance schools to go over the exam syllabus material and prepare the students for the format that is required for examinations. Time is spent not only on technique and performance but also on how to enter the exam studio and greet the examiner, where to put things, how to stand at the barre, which place to take in the centre work and what order dances are taken, these are all basic preparations that exam students need to know. These extra lessons/workshops are vital for students to attend since many of the finer non dance details of exams are covered and help alleviate any anxieties students may have.

During a workshop or in extra sessions, most studios like to set a "Mock Exam" that runs exactly like the real process as if it was the real thing. This familiarises students with the process and helps calm nerves on the day of the exam.

Pre-Exam Day

Prepare and pack all your dance wear, shoes and items needed the day before and make sure you have a quiet evening and an early night. Try not to have a particularly heavy meal or spend time on homework, etc. If you are unsure what is needed, get your dance teacher to give you a list of everything needed for the exam day.

Exam Day

Avoiding any kind of conflicts on the morning of the exam will allow everyone to have a great day. Depending on when your exam is scheduled try to eat a light, healthy snack (NOT fast or fried food) at least 45 minutes prior to your exam to give you energy.

The most important thing is to arrive at the exam studio early - generally 90-60 minutes prior to your exam - this will allow you to change into your exam wear and groom you hair. A good warm up routine is essential and helps calm you down. Get the blood flowing with some easy movements, go through your stretching and strengthening routine and then do a light barre and practise the exercises you will be showing. During this warming up and waiting period, try to keep your muscles warm by wearing your tracksuit as well as thick socks or booties to keep your feet warm.

You should look well groomed for your examiner and make a lasting impression, so remember not to wear any jewellery, make up, press on tattoos/body art or nail polish on exam day.

Your hair should be in a beautifully done ballet bun or similar style. If you are a young student, this will be undertaken by your teacher, parent or helper. Older students will do this themselves. Always bring your own hair brush, hair pins and grips, hairspray, gel and hair nets to exam day. Don't wash your hair the night before an exam as this makes it slippery and difficult to fix into a bun.

Exam Dance Wear

Students wear the examination prescribed leotard, a pair of clean, preferably new tights, and the proper ballet shoes and character shoes if required. If character or ballet skirts are needed, they should be clean, ironed and should not have any rips or stains on them. Senior students may need pointe shoes so please check the ribbons, and that you have toe pads packed, etc. as well as a small sewing and emergency kit.

Students enjoy and take pride in looking perfectly and beautifully groomed for their examinations and this boosts their confidence when entering the exam room.

A Special Day

Parents should try and make the exam day special by arranging something nice for afterwards - ice cream, a treat or similar. Your child has worked hard, so rewards are in order.

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