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Talk to me about ISTD Modern Theatre dance exam results.

(29 Posts)
morethanpotatoprints Tue 25-Jun-13 19:06:45


My dd has done grade one and I don't understand the terminology can somebody explain these terms please and what they mean in the results.

Line and precision of movement.
Use of space
sense of performance.

Also as these are marked individually how do they relate to the set amalgamation and the dance. Does it mean that all the listed marks attainable were gained from amalgamation and dance?

I want to help dd move forward and not sure what it all means, it is rare to have time with her teacher.

Sparklymommy Wed 26-Jun-13 15:49:24

Sense of performance means how well they perform the piece. Therefore to get the high marks they need to really dance with enthusiasm and energy, rather than just walking through the steps and feel the music. It can also mean being aware of the audience, smiling etc.

Use of space means that if they are meant to skip round in a circle they use the whole room. Also they need to not run out of room!

Line and precision is to do with the shapes made and the lines of the arms and legs. If the legs and arms are in the right positions.

Hope that helps!

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 21:20:31


My understanding - I will ask DD, but she is still at dance class - is that the MT grades have several different exercises in each one (so not just the set amalgamation and the dance, but also other set exercises).

I THINK, but am not sure, that the marks you mention will be determined by performance of all those different exercises (in the same way as e.g. port de bras is assessed in ballet across all exercises, not just a single 'port de bras' one). I THINK, but again am not sure, that the set amalgamation and the dance are given separate marks BUT how they are performed can contribute to other marks too (but only as one part of the whole impression gained from all the exercises).

DD - a fine ballerina but not a natural MT performer - gets high marks for line and precision, and also has good 'radar' so gets good marks for use of space (in her dance school, even for the higher grades she is now on, at least 2 children are examined at once so use of space also relates to how they maintain awareness of other performers).. However she gets lower marks for 'sense of performance' in MT than she does in the equivalent section in ballet because she is less 'at home' in the stye of music and 'sells' the dance less to the examiner as a result.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Jun-13 21:54:06

Thank you very much, both of you.
My dd is 9 so not exactly a Darcy Bussell but has danced since 2. The school put more emphasis on shows than exams but they get to the required level at 16 to go to college if they choose.
She didn't do too well in this exam with 75 merit. She got a mid 90 for primary, and several things you mentioned weren't high marks.
She always gets top marks for the musical awareness sections in Tap as well. She has dropped ballet exams but still takes the classes.

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 22:10:12

Have quizzed DD in more detail now she's home.

She says that certain mark sections have their own exercises - so e.g. limbering in the higher grades has its own limbering exercises - whereas other things like posture, line and style etc are assessed across most of the exam content. She also said that for line and precision of movement it was important that her movement was 'MT like' and not 'ballet like' - as she described it many years ago to my mother, MT is 'spiky' whereas ballet is 'graceful'.

I wonder with use of space whether she was examined in a room that she does not usually dance in? Was the exam taken in her dance school or elsewhere? I know that DD has been thrown e.g. by the fact that classes are danced 'widthways' across the studio, but examiners tend to sit at one end so the exercises are done 'lengthways' for exams.

Examiners do vary, too. (DD's dance teacher is an ISTD examiner.....and a very scary one....)

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 12:41:32

Hello teacher

I think the space issue comes from the fact the class is too big, bordering on 30 dc. When it comes to the exam they are not used to having space to work in. Several parents have commented on the class being too big and maybe this has something to do with it.
She knew her mark would be lower as she made a mistake, as can happen. I just thought if I could understand the marking criteria a little more I could explain it to her.
It is very complicated, not as easy to understand as music transcriptions. grin
I am understanding it now, and thanks to you and your dd grin
She sounds like she knows her stuff, send her my best wishes smile

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 27-Jun-13 13:45:01


My dd does RAD ballet, ISTD tap & modern & non syllabus jazz.

Her biggest class has a cap of 15.

Also they should have been practising their exercises in their groups of 3 or 4.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 16:38:38


They do practice in their little groups but imo not enough considering the class is so large. They have 2 x half hour lessons during the term coming up to exam. One is the normal class so modern or tap. The second is just the exam class.
The school do normally get excellent results, but it was interesting this time as the class is so big now. There are 2 other classes in the same junior grouping. The other two classes lower than dds class so they are y3 and y2. My dd would be y4. Also none of the classes above or below this level are as large as dds.

Sparklymommy Thu 27-Jun-13 17:42:22

Does your dd dance in proper studios or halls? I only ask because my dd dances at a very good dance school and a lot of her classes have upwards of 30 students. It never seems to have been an issue. We were recently at a workshop day where there were lectures/classes of 150! (Believe me, 150 senior tappers make an awful racquet!)

75 is a good mark. What grade was your dd taking? My own dd, aged 10, took her grade 3 mt exam in November. She was told in the session before that she wasn't physically ready to get the best grade she could. This is because she has a relatively young body shape and sometimes that can be a factor in mt. When she did take it she got a distinction though, and that was four months later!

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 20:33:49


Hello, my dd dances at a private dancing school. She only did grade one, they don't really do them in a hurry there smile
She seemed to take forever to get to this stage, but they do put a lot of emphasis on the shows, which dd really likes.
Well done to your dd, at my dds school they are almost seniors before taking grade 3. smile. I think she was more concerned with her position in class, it seems unfair but they call the results out so everyone knows. Then they go on the notice board, so at 75 even though a good mark she was 3rd from the bottom of the class, having been joint 5th previously.
Does this seem wrong to others or is it the norm

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 20:48:39

At DD's dance school (DD, at 10, is in the Grade 5 MT class and will take it in Spring or summer next year) a list is put up on the board showing simply D, M or [very occasionally] P.

Numbers are never called out, and there is no 'ranking' - the results are put up in the 'running order' of the exams on that day IYSWIM. When she was younger and doing e.g. Grade 1 (in common with Sparkly's shool, exams are taken rather younger than you experience - DD would have been just turned 6 for grade 1 MT, and there would be few children taking it much older), then the grading was A, B or C, and the teacher would simply say that Child A was 'A for Amazing' and another child was 'B for Brilliant'. the children had no notion that there was a 'ranking' attached to that.

How many shows do they do? DD's dance school does 1 'full on, 'named' show - e.g. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory type thing - in a proper theatre' show every 2 years, a choreography competition / dance showcase in the same theatre every Spring, and a smaller 'end of a week's summer school' show, again in the same theatre, every Summer. Somehow they seem to fit the exams in around it - but the classes are smaller than you have. 20 would be considered 'big', usually much smaller - DD's Grade 4 Tap class has c. 8-10, and some are smaller.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 21:06:17


The shows are every 18 months, also do summer school show. In fairness many of the classes have dc drop out after the junior classes and then the class is a lot smaller.
Sometimes I have heard of dc skipping certain exams and going onto the next one. but all the dc move up the classes together.
However, when they get to seniors there can be a huge range of ages. last year there was a y6 girl with a y9 girl in the same class.
Some of the seniors have gone onto do FE courses in dance and have passed auditions etc. So I think they do teach to the standard eventually but are just a bit slower at getting there. They don't start jazz exams until seniors but have dance classes throughout juniors.

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 21:10:32

I don't, btw, think that zipping through exams is the be-all and end-all of dance, far from it. It's just that all the dance schools I know of locally have a very similar 'age profile' for each grade to DD's, so I was interested that yours is very different.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 21:15:56


Apologies, if I sounded like I was saying your school zipped through exams, I was stressing how I thought ours was different.
I think they are very slow and I think anybody wanting to enter a really good ballet school/education would struggle here with the timing.
She does enjoy it though and has friends she has danced with since she was 2.5, but I know she would need to move schools if dancing was going to be a career. grin

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 21:16:54

The range of ages thing in one grade sounds fairly normal to me - as each child is only entered when ready, although they all start quite young, by the higher grades there are some children who have taken an exam each year and some who have taken them once every 5 terms or 2 years and so progressed more slowly. One of the reasons DD was out so late last night was that she has just started as an understudy in the 'senior' performing group - mostly 14-19 year olds. Some of those girls are in e.g. ballet classes with her, others are doing Advanced vocational courses and about to go off to dance college at 19...

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 21:19:33

DD is NOT going to be a dancer, but sufficiently many of the older girls go off to study dance that the whole schol is run with that as an assumption IYSWIM? It's not somewhere you'd go as a 'recreational only' dancer... DD likes it because it suits her perfectionist streak to be 'as good as she can be' even if that's NOT in any way good enough to make it her profession.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 21:47:22


I guess all schools are run differently, this one doesn't sound the same iyswim. Only a few dancers go on to college and become professionals, all those who stay past about age 14, take it seriously though and most do exams. Whereas in dds class 8/9 year olds there are several who don't do exams at all and just like the shows and dancing for fun.

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 27-Jun-13 21:51:00

Dd is 11 and year 6. She would have been about to do her Grade 3 modern but instead she's going off to vocational school in September.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 21:55:05

Sorry, I meant to add, your dd sounds very dedicated and it also sounds like a fantastic school. Are they all nice or is there a lot of competition?

The one I attended as a child was awful, the mothers were nasty to the dc in competition with their own dc and made their life hell. I wonder if schools like this still exist?

Well done to your dd with the audition btw. Please thank her for her help. and Good luck to her. thanks

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 21:58:00


Vocational school? Sounds good

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 22:03:10

Actually, everyone's surprisingly nice. Even the originally uber-competitive mum has completely chilled out in recent years...and the girls are universally lovely. They tend to have similar approaches to life - hard working when they need to be, serious-minded when it comes to dance or school, but up for a good old giggle in the changing rooms. I sometimes think having a total battleaxe running the school - she's a great teacher, but oh my - is a VERY uniting experience for those who are come into contact with her!

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Jun-13 22:03:55

Pictures, where is she off to, if I could be so nosey?

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 27-Jun-13 22:11:17


Picturesinthefirelight Thu 27-Jun-13 22:14:33

I'd worry that in a class of 30 there wasn't enough time for individual corrections.

Yes it's common in masterckassescetc but at that age/grade they need the individual attention.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Jun-13 23:30:46


That was the concern of some of the parents, but some of the class don't do exams.
The Hammond is really good from the little I have heard. A girl from dds school went a few years ago, we didn't know her but she comes to see the show when she is on holiday.

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