With only the beginnings of spring pocking it’s head up, summer seems a long way away. Not if you’re preparing for Royal Academy of Dance Assessments! In fact, for the teachers at FirstSteps, summer is galloping towards us at quite a rate. Our main objectives at present, are how best we can prepare the students for this challenging and rewarding time. Thankfully, what the Examiner or Special Lady (depending on who you are talking to) is looking for, is very clear in the information at our disposal. The criteria are there for us to know, understand and apply.

For the students to get to Assessment standard, not only do they have to remember many different steps and sequences, they have to execute them to the best of their ability. Using the criteria in the picture above, is a beneficial way of doing this. It can also make classes fun, inclusive and thought provoking.

Each exercise can be taken apart and criteria worked through. For example, take skips (let’s face it, everyone loves a skip). We have skips in our classical work and in the character section too. Consider the criteria ‘Dynamics’. What is the quality of the skip? HOW are you going to skip? HOW is the leg going to come up in the front. Thinking faces on??? Suggestions from the class, quickly, uppity, strongly? Working through those dynamics gives the skip it’s colour. With practice and participation, the skips get stronger, more musical and with more form. This is a very simple example. If you work with older students, the language may be more sophisticated and the discussion in greater depth.

So, as we skip towards our Assessments in the summer we will be spending many minutes looking at our Criteria poster and using it to get the best out of the syllabi and our young dancers.