RAD ballet exams

The last few days I was playing during Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams at the dance school I am working. It was long 7 hours playing the piano every day covering all the grades starting from pri-primary to Grade 8 as well as Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate Ballet.
All the students have been working really hard for the last whole year to dance in front of the examiner. I have been watching their progress,  their ups and downs during the classes and my fingers were crossed during the exams,  even though I was playing. More like mental crossed fingers,  one would say…
Some of them did very well, the others sometimes blanked in the beginning of the exercise or dance- it can happen similarly when you’re playing. You’re excited and terrified and all of the sudden you have no idea what comes next. Some almost cried when dancing in their points as they accidentally hurt their toes just few days before and were facing two options- quit or do it while not paying attention to the pain. They always choose the latter as ballet dancers are really strong people. Not only physically but also mentally. They wait patiently during their exams while watching their friends dancing and then they put all their strength and emotions into less than a minute exercise. It is different from the music exams. There, you just come in, play your scales, exercise, 3-4 pieces, do some aural, sight reading but you do not have to wait for your turn in the room of the exam. I think that would really terrify me. I have never liked when you perform and you’re sitting in the audience waiting for you turn instead of being in the tiny room backstage being just by myself and my thoughts. Somewhere where you can solely focus on your playing and etc.
I am really happy to be working there and watching young ballerinas grow .I am looking forward to 3rd year there although i need some time to recover from the last 4 long days of playing the ballet music…

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3 thoughts on “RAD ballet exams

  1. Dear Jazzulka,
    I am a great ballet lover, and I think it is wonderful that you play for a dance school. I’m sure your empathy and caring for the students comes through in your playing and gives them an extra emotional support to help them to do their best. I wonder, do you have to play different pieces for each student, or do you play the same pieces for students in the same grade? Do you have favorite pieces from what you have to play for classes or exams? I’m so glad you blog about your work as well as your travels around Malta – I love them both.
    Christine

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks again for checking my blog.
      I really enjoy playing at the ballet classes. In comparison to my teaching jobs it is quite relaxing – I don’t have to speak 🙂
      I play only pieces from the RAD syllabus so the students get used to the music, the tempo, dynamics and they are more confident during the exams. Most of the new syllabi are the transcriptions of the orchestral works like operas, ballet etc. so the choice is quite vast and each grade has around 20 or more exercises. I especially like playing Port de Bras or Adagio as they are slow and smooth.

  2. Sounds lovely – I love Erik Satie – when I listen, I picture doing slow bar exercises in a beautiful dance studio with big arched windows and shiny wooden floors and the sun streaming in. It is very relaxing and soothing.

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