The study of Ballet is integral to every dancer, male or female. It is the basis of their strength, balance, form and technique.
RAD is an acronym for Royal Academy of Dance, an organization based in London, England that “promotes knowledge, understanding and practice of dance internationally”, and who “seeks to accomplish our mission through promoting dance, educating and training students and teachers?and providing examinations to reward achievement.”
RAD ballet classes are twice per week and taught by certified instructors who are required to teach a specific ‘syllabus’, which is similar to a school teacher following a certain curriculum that is set out by the Ministry of Education.
Syllabus work includes pre-set exercises and choreography.
Dancers from the ages of 5 years study the Graded syllabus.
The Graded syllabus provides a broad practical dance education, progressively developing the technical, musical and performance skills of the student. The Grades are Pre-Primary, Primary and 1 through 8. After Grade 5, dancers have the option of continuing with the upper grades, or branching off to the Vocational syllabus.
The Vocational syllabus provides an in-depth study of Classical Ballet, developing the technique, music and performance skills of the student and introducing pointe work for female candidates. It prepares students for a dance or dance related career and is appropriate for students from the age of 11 years. Both Graded and Vocational syllabus offer dancers the opportunity to undergo exams to assess their ability and understanding at each level.
Exams are offered at two times during the year, spring and fall. There is a fee for the exams
that varies depending on the grade being taken.
Typically exams are taken in groups of two to four students at a time. As the examiner is unfamiliar with the dancers, dancers are given small coloured bows or ribbons to wear so they can be identified and graded.
Typically, a cd is used as accompaniment during classes. However, at exam, a pianist plays the work live. To transition between recorded and live work, some additional classes may be held with the pianist. As the exam date nears, a ‘mock exam’ will be called. A guest examiner will run the dancers thru their exam work with the pianist, so they are well prepared for what to expect at the real exam.
The Examiner will send the results to the RAD office in London, who then records and issues the reports and certificates to the Studio for distribution to the dancers. As you can appreciate, these well-travelled certificates can sometimes take a few weeks to make their journey to the dancers.
Each dancer will receive a ‘report card’ detailing what they were examined on, and how they were scored. They receive a mark out of 100, which translates into a grade (again, similar to our public school system).
Commonly Asked Questions
“Does my dancer have to take the exam?”
No, not every dancer must take their exam. In fact, exams can only be taken on the recommendation of the instructor. Exams are important as they offer an assessment of learning and development. They are also important to dancers with dreams of dancing or teaching professionally.
“My dancer didn’t take the Grade 2 exam. Does she still go on to Grade 3?”
It depends. Some dancers may study a particular grade for two years before they are preared for the exam, in which case the dancer would repeat grade 2. If the dancer is not going forward under the exam program, then they would proceed to the next grade with out taking the exam. In other words, you don’t have to pass a grade to move to the next. Advancement can also happen at the recommendation of the instructor.
“How do I know what grade level my dancer should start at?”
The RAD provides age guidelines for each grade. The instructor will assess the dancer, and place them according to age and ability.
“What should they wear for ballet?”
RAD issues guidelines for attire. For all students, hair must be properly secured back in a ballet bun. No jewelry. Clean ballet pink tights, split sole pink leather ballet shoes and sleeveless pinch front ballet bodysuit in the appropriate colour for their grade. Additional guidelines are specific for exams, such as no nail polish, no makeup, waist band and character shoes and character shirt.
“What is the big elastic band that came with the suit?”
That is an important piece required for the exam. Its not always needed for class, but keep it safe for exam. It is a waistband that should sit right on your dancer’s hipbones. It gives the examiner a visual reference to the dancer’s alignment and range of movement.
“What are character shoes and skirts?”
Character dance is part of the syllabus work. Black character shoes and black circle skirts are required. More information on this will be given to dancers as they start the Character section of their work.
“What is the choreography component?”
At the Creative Outlet, our RAD ballet program is intended for those dancers who desire to improve their overall dance technique, and for those with a true love of the form. Ballet is an art form in itself, and as such deserves to be shown. Our RAD classes will each perform a routine at the year-end show in June. Soloists may elect to also compete with their numbers.