The excitement of a new dance year! It’s something you live for, and worry about, all at the same time. Nobody knows what the instructors will challenge you with. Many students are new or may come from different dance studios or schools. Each student may have learned in different ways. For example, some studios don’t have a formal evaluation process that places students according to their abilities. Progression may have always been based on whatever the teachers thought was best for that student at the time. Other studios have rigorous evaluations to determine what strengths and/or weaknesses a dancer may have. Still other studios may not have a lot of choice who they sign up. If they have a heart beat they take them.
I like the evaluation process. For me it takes the bias out of the decision process. Students should be prepared for dance evaluations however. Preparation classes can be offered to help maintain and improve a dancers skills before evaluations start.
Evaluations and tryouts are totally different. Evaluations place you into the category you need to be in – based on your true ability. Tryouts are competitive, and often have a lot of bias built into them. It is the nature of the beast, but is it helping students grow? Are tryouts really a good indication of what a student knows?
Assessment in dance
As part of an audition you may be required to choreograph and perform a solo and then do an evaluation of the dance on top of that. You have to be able to communicate on your performance skills, technical ability, and style of dance you choose. You may have to write it and/or do a short speech.
A dance evaluation form is a useful tool and contains the requirements for evaluating an individual’s dancing skills and understanding. It helps dancers prepare for possible auditions later on in their dancing careers. There are a number of different reason to get a proper evaluation of a student. A studio, institute or instructor can use the evaluations in the planning process and to track growth. The evaluation should capture both the basic understanding of dance as well as the attributes gained from other trainers.
In the recent past I’ve had students come to me who have demonstrated problems with turn out, kicks versus side tilts, prepping on tippy toes on the front foot, popping out their hips in turns, sickling, improper knee placement, etc. While the student may adequately do other dance movement well, they haven’t had the basics taught to them yet, and those basics reinforced. My answer of course will always be, that ballet is art, but it is also a discipline. That discipline in turn, will make you a fabulous dancer.
That is what I want my students to be working on. “FABULOUS”. Because they know they are!
I found the following Sample Dance Evaluation Form on line. It’s a evaluation sheet. Don’t reinvent the wheel, when the material is available for free on line. http://www.bataviaschools.org/docs/Rubric%20for%20Scoring%20Dance%20Performance%20Evaluation.doc
There are also evaluation forms for instructors. Having been a judge and knowing that judges critique each other, I see no problem with instructors receiving evaluations as well. Actually, they should be evaluated. Directors be honest, where do you put your weakest instructors? What progression or training is available for them to learn from? Do your instructors have the basics down? Are your instructors over qualified? Are they mean to other instructors? Afraid to talk? Moon lighting?
Be honest in your evaluations with your instructors and help them to grow too. Evaluations often allow you to state things that need stating. No more hiding pent up frustration, tippy toeing around issues, or worrying about grumbling and hurt feelings. Get it all out on the table. But, do be prepared for some back lash. Note that as a director, this is part of your job.
If you have uneducated teachers, you are probably producing poorly trained students. On the other hand, If your instructors have more ability than you, stay out of their class rooms. If you want training “as a director”, from your instructor, do it after your instructor is done with his or her class. Respect them, and they will respect you back.
Are you willing to allow your instructors to evaluate you?
I understand that evaluations are really tough sometimes. The outcome can be something other than what you think. But, if we mandate that our students have to go through the process of evaluation – then we need to also experience that process ourselves. Remember why we are here, to learn dance.
Ballet is a discipline. Dance in general has to be a practiced discipline. You have to learn the progressive steps one at a time. You learn those steps though time, disciple, and evaluation.
Anything that you decide to do in life, do it well. It’s like receiving critiques on a score sheet – they matter. It is a mirror of how hard you worked at some point in time. The best thing to do is take the lowest score, and work up from there. Conquer that score!