I am often asked, by first time parents, what the process is once their child has been entered for one of the several assessment choices in the Royal Academy of Dance organisation. For all these options, the process in our studios at The Dance Centre Peregian Springs is the same and may vary slightly from studio to studio.
Once entries are in and everyone knows which assessment options have been chosen, work begins on building the student's confidence, technique and performing skills without stress or pressure. The journey towards an examination is taken as a joyous adventure culminating in presenting to the visiting examiner the end result of hard work, determination, motivation and a lot of fun.
Perceiving assessments as a positive experience enhances the student's ability to deal with assessments as they go through their academic and dance education, and sets them up for a lifetime of positive examination experiences. A good way to begin your journey towards the exam is by purchasing and downloading the RAD App (onto your computer or mobile device) that demonstrates all the levels from Pre Primary upwards and being able to watch it at home, on the way to school, etc is a marvellous way for students of any age to engage with their syllabus and really learn the exercises. The App is cheap, easy and quick to install and can be downloaded onto five different devices. Go to the App store on your device and search for Royal Academy of Dance Enterprises, then download the free app. It will appear on your device as a red RAD square, now click on this and it will display all the levels available for purchase. Click on the one you want and purchase using your Apple ID. Just make sure you have a good fast internet connection. It can take up to 10 minutes to download! Then, "Presto!" you and your child can watch any part of the syllabus - whenever you want. You can slow down speeds to observe steps slowly and clearly, and learn all those little details of heads and arms, etc. Remember that your teacher will have choreographed some different endings to the exercises as well as some different exercises and that there are several music choices. However, on the whole, you will get a huge amount out of regularly watching your syllabus.
At the end of our RAD preparation term (Term 3), we hold a three day RAD Workshop where all the work is gone over again in fine detail and Mock Exam assessments are set up to familiarise the students with the examination process on the day. Normally in a RAD Workshop, students get to practise all the technicalities of entering the examination studio, greeting the examiner, presenting their work, spacing and studio etiquette. Nothing is left to chance and the students are then eager for the actual assessment day.
At the workshop, it is normal for students to wear the uniform and shoes they will need for the examination and get used to changing into character skirts and shoes during the exam and finding their props for the various exercises and dances, etc.
Once the date and time of the assessments is known, parents can arrange to bring their child to the studio about 90 minutes before their assessment begins. Make sure their dance uniform is perfectly clean, especially shoes, leotard and tights, and that the character skirt is beautifully ironed and arranged over a hanger.
Some students may still feel a little anxious on the day and a few 'butterflies' are quite normal. Explaining this to your child is important and staying positive is a must. Staff will always help a nervous student and RAD examiners are famous for their kindness and take pains to make the students feel at ease.
Hair can be done beforehand if mums are really good at perfect buns with hairnet, gel and hairspray and absolutely no wisps of hair showing, otherwise staff will usually be on hand to assist with this. Remember to take several NEW hairnets, ample STRONG hair pins, bobby pins, hair elastics, hair gel and your own hair spray, a brush and comb. At The Dance Centre, special hair decorations for each group will then be put in once the bun is perfect. Parents can usually leave the studios once they have helped with the hair and dressing, and will be given a rough estimate of pick up time.
At our studios, students are warmed up and go through all their exercises a final time before having their exam numbers pinned on their leotards and escorted to wait just outside the Examination Studio door with any props, character skirts and shoes that might be needed. When the examiner rings the bell, it is time to enter the exam studio and strut their stuff!
Parents are not allowed into the area just outside the examination studio door where the official examination coordinator will check that everything is correct, numbers, names, etc and escort the students in and out of the studio.
I firmly encourage parents to view the Assessment Day with their aspiring young dancer as a special day with an exciting planned treat after the assessment is over. After all, a lot of hard work has gone into the whole process and should be celebrated and applauded.