Dance exams….a necessary part of dancing and working your way through the grades. Two years on average is spent per grade learning steps, developing shape, developing technique, developing movement, developing the dancer as a whole package and to be examined throughout that time ensures the dancer is up to standard for their grade. The requirement from the dancer differs and increases naturally as the grades progress. A person at Social Dance Test for example obviously wouldn’t be expected to display the capabilities of a more advanced dancer!
In the last 8 years, I have worked my way through exams at Social Dance Test, Pre-Bronze, Bronze and have almost completed my Silver level but for one dance that I have left to take at some point this year. In the beginning, 8 years ago, I remember being so nervous, not knowing what to expect of an exam session. That said, I have just taken another 2 exams at Silver and as much as the nerves are nowhere near as rife as they used to be, there is something that I cannot shake off just before I walk into the exam room.
This particular exam’s preparation lessons had been going amazingly well! Viennese Waltz and Waltz! During my Saturday lessons the developments I seem to have been making have on occasion left my Dance Teacher not knowing what to say next! (In a good way….just to clarify!!) I seem in a way to have turned a corner so to speak that I’ve not been able to turn for so long. ‘Stuck in a rut’ in developmental terms springs to mind…yes I’ve been improving my dancing but by comparison to the last few weeks, it’s been a bit of a ‘slow burner’ kind of process. Like a lightbulb going on…there’s a dramatic difference in how I feel when I dance and also from the comments I have had back from my Teacher.
Great! So what’s wrong? Well…when it came down to the exam session….I think I am quietly confident, the worse that can happen is she will keep the Viennese Walt going for so long I’ll go dizzy! As I saw the person before me enter the exam room, I suddenly become nervous…oh my gosh it’s me next!
I try to take some slow deep breaths but still jump up and down in a bid to warm up. As the door opens and the previous candidate leaves the room, my Teacher comes to get me to escort me to the exam. After an initial introduction to an examiner I walk across the room to where we will start the Viennese Waltz. I just think to myself that I need to make sure I breathe…yes I do have a habit of not breathing when I dance…but I’m working on that!
The music starts and before I know it, it’s done! I did feel a little out of breath but nothing like I used to with this dance. The issue then became that my heart was absolutely racing! Not through fear or nerves, just from where I had just danced the Viennese! Unfortunately this then set me up in terms of being tense for the dance that followed…Waltz. Again this dance had been going so well in lessons and I thought I would be able to try and convey some of the developments in my exam….whether I did or not in the eyes of the examiner is yet to be seen in my results but in the opinion of my Teacher, of which I agree, I’m not dancing to my full potential as I can do more…I can do better….but something is kicking in before or during the exam that thwarts the performance and freedom to move.
To put a positive spin on the experience, I still danced better than in previous exams …or so I felt I did…I wasn’t freaking out for the whole day beforehand which has happened previously…and but for the last minute panic, I felt both mentally and physically ready to enter the room so all of those are steps in the right direction for exam sessions!
Dancing is subjective as with any other art form that is being judged by someone who knows what she does or does not like to see during the exam session. As much as both my Teacher and I know I have made improvements of late, the examiner didn’t see me dance previously and doesn’t know about my developments so this is where I hope she saw enough in what I did do! Results in a few weeks!
Have you overcome pre-event anxiety…if so, what are your tips and advice? Let me know in the comments below!
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