As our 2018 dancing year enters Term 4, Ardlair is busy focusing on exams and display work to round out a fantastic 12 months for our school.
Some dancers and families jump straight into exam preparations, however each year some of our members query the relevance of sitting dance exams.
I LOVE this question for a number of reasons.
Firstly I love it because Ardlair has a culture where dancers and parents can actually ask this question. It is not an unwritten expectation of all dancers in our school, nor something prioritised just because we ‘have always done them’ or it is ‘what you have to do’.
Each year we assess what our dancers need, and what examinations may be beneficial for each individual in their current dancing journey.
The second reason I enjoy this question is because the goal of passing exams to become a teacher can have a wider scope than the traditional pathway or end result. Not everyone wants to teach full time, or run their own Highland studio, however in this day and age where qualifications matter in many aspects of life – how great is it to have a Highland teaching certificate which says so much about you to prospective employers, or for scholarships, work experience, or for other activities? Do you wish to stay involved in your studio in some capacity, connect with other dancing teachers across the country or internationally, or contribute to the Highland world into adulthood? Imagine if you are on a gap year, working overseas or interstate, or looking for something beneficial after work and want a small side income? How much more attractive is teaching a dancing class compared with late night bar work or weekend work in a cafe?
To have gained this recognised qualification through the relatively easy process of sitting a small exam each year in your childhood has many benefits that may not be clear at the time!
The final reason, and most important, however, is simply the act of sitting the exam itself.
The world is looking for adults with resilience, confidence and self-belief. What a brilliant opportunity to grow such attributes in your young dancers than to put them in a safe, controlled, supportive situation for them to learn and develop such skills.
The art of proper preparation, skills for controlling nerves and positive self-talk, managing change or disappointment, feeling the pleasure of achievement – all things that are developed in children at a young age who enter dancing exams and are properly prepared and supported by their teachers, mentors, parents, families and friends during the process.
We are having such fun in our classes at the moment debating steps, alternatives and movements. The dancers are working together, giggling as they learn side by side, and keeping me sharp and current with my knowledge as much as increasing and improving theirs. The understanding of our dancers impresses me no end and I am very proud of the fact that they know far more about Highland dancing than I did at their age. 🙂 I might have been able to dance well at a young age, but the technical knowledge of these kids is fabulous and shows such fantastic passion, interest and enjoyment in the unique detail of Highland Dancing.
Why sit exams? …. a great question and one that I am happy to answer and discuss with dancers and parents every year!