Dancing exams can be very scary. They are very different to dancing at competitions and require a different approach. They are also very important, as exams will help you learn your positions and improve your technique. When you pass all your exams you can become a full member of the SOHDA and go on to become a teacher, examiner and/or adjudicator.
BEFORE THE EXAMS:
· The most important thing is to know your exams. Silly little mistakes will let you down. Listen to your teacher and practice.
· Make sure you are fit. This is very important if you are sitting one of the more strenuous exams. Being fit will mean that your exam will present your best work from the beginning to the end. It will also help prevent any last-minute injuries.
· Have a good nights sleep before the exam. It is important to be both physically and mentally fresh for your exam.
· Take time to warm up properly before entering the exam room. Whether you are sitting Grade 1, Gold or Teachers it is important that your body is ready to go!
· Do not eat or drink directly before your exam. Instead, try to eat and hydrate your body about one hour before, so that your body can digest the food and produce energy. A good energy giver is bananas!
IN THE EXAM ROOM:
· Always try to put your best foot forward! Remember that you only have one chance to impress the examiner. Attempt to do every movement and dance to the best of your ability.
· Listen carefully to the examiner. This will ensure that you know what movements the examiner wants you to do.
· Do not panic if you make a mistake. You might make a mess of a movement, kick your sword or dance out of time but it won’t matter as long as you pick yourself up and not let the rest of your exam slip.
· Do not worry about anyone else in the exam room with you. Concentrate on your own performance only.
· Walking in and out of the exam room and waiting between dances is important. Do not talk to the other candidates in the exam room and always stand straight and alert.
· If the examiner tells you to take time to stretch and relax then take it. This is very important if you are sitting one of the more advanced exams, which are quite long and strenuous.
SOME LITTLE TECHNICAL TIPS:
· When both feet are in 1st Position they should make a 90-degree angle. Ask your teacher to place the corner of a closed book in the “V” of your feet, which should make a perfect fit.
· In elevated movements it is important to show even elevation. Do not let your elevation to drop if the movement changes from elevation off two feet to elevation off one foot.
· Deportment and poise movements are easier to perform if you learn to use your abdominal muscles to hold your body steady.
· Many exam candidates let themselves down by performing a movement really well as a theoretical foundation movement but not in the dance section. It is important to show that you have mastered a movement not only when that movement is isolated but also when it is part of a step.
Just when you think you have mastered the practical side of the dances, at some point you must conquer the theoretical side of exams. There is no one best method for learning theory but here are some things that may help you.
· Start learning your theory early. Do not leave it to the last minute but take your time and make sure that you not only know it but that you UNDERSTAND IT!
· Ask someone to test you regularly. This is a good way to find out what you know and what you still need to learn.
· Study all the required definitions so you know and understand each one - word perfect. In later exams it will also be important to be able to refer back to past exam definitions.
· Answer each question with confidence. If you have learned your theory and you understand it then you have nothing to worry about.
· Use the correct terminology for positions and movements at dancing practice to help you remember them for the exam. For instance, say 2nd, 3rd RA, 3rd A, 3rd RA, rather than side, back, front, back, when you are describing the Highland Fling shedding movement.
· If the examiner asks you a question that you cannot remember the answer to, picture the movement or step in your mind. This may help trigger your memory.
· Never be scared of theory. You can learn anything if you put your mind to it!