I am often asked why some children are not put forward for exams at the same time as others of the same age. All children develop physically and cerebrally at very different rates – not always equalling these two points themselves – remember how diverse your child’s development was from their friends’ when babies! There are several factors which must be in place, or very nearly there, before I consider sending a child of any age in for examination:
- A secure level of technical ability aided by good muscular strength.
- Comprehension of what is required AND the ability to apply this.
- Complete knowledge of the syllabus and theory.
- Overall, to be able to dance with confidence, focus and musicality.
It is not enough, for example, for the child to know the syllabus and to dance with confidence but not be able to execute the moves correctly due to lack of muscular strength or understanding - or to be able to dance beautifully but never remember the work unprompted - i.e. body and mind must match to the best of each child’s abilities. Many children do not receive Distinction regardless of how hard they work, though many do receive very pleasing results if exams aren’t rushed. Their sense of achievement is wonderful for me to see, whether Pass, Merit, high Merit or Distinction.
Decisions have to be made several months before the exam date. Children enter Grades without a teacher present. In Standard exams children are accompanied by the teacher. For Grade exams it is important to take two lessons a week, at the very least in the term of the exam, which will help secure the above factors. There is no limit on the amount of classes a child can attend.
After Grade 3, children who only ever attend one class a week will be offered an exam in the equivalent Standard instead. Some children attend two or more classes a week all year round and that child progresses much faster, however, progress most often depends on the natural stature of a child and, very simply, some bodies (and minds!) are harder to control than others. Also, the higher the Grade, the more technical the requirements become and the harder they are to achieve with a high mark. After Grade 6/Standard 6 the Senior Certificate route can be taken.
Classical Ballet is the most difficult genre of the performing arts and parents should be proud of any achievements. The most important aspect is that your child enjoys her/his classes. I will never hold back a talented child any more than push forward one that is not ready – even if they are best friends in the same class. Parents will back my decisions.
In the same breath I may add that exams are not compulsory and those children who prefer not to take exams would move up anyhow when I deem them ready. I will also notify you if I believe your child is not suitable to enter for exams at all but can also move up. Parents will back these rare decisions.
Occasionally, another child will appear to take an exam very early or skip a class altogether. This is a private arrangement between me and the parents and is not a reflection of your own child’s abilities.
Vocational exams above Grade 6, a different route, are a very different type of examination and will be discussed individually at the time if I deem your child is suitable. These are essential to facilitate entry into full time vocational training or ISTD teacher training in the Cecchetti Method. A few talented children choose to take these challenging exams for their own continuing personal development without a view to working in the profession.
All Grade and Vocational exam passes are recognised and gather points for UCAS applications.