Dance Advice

Examination Tips – Create a Practice Plan

By Jacqui Johnson, Triple International Examiner

PRACTICE PLAN
Miracles rarely happen in the world of dance, therefore be ahead!  Once you know the approximate date of your proposed examination, work backwards from the anticipated date, and create a Practice Plan.

Don’t leave your pre-examination preparation too late. Last minute study and training is rarely successful, is always very stressful and generally doomed to failure.

A successful student is organised and learns the art of time management, and not to deviate from the countdown.

Even though it requires determination and self discipline, your level of achievement is largely decided by effort. The motto “labor omnia vincit” – work conquers all – is worth adopting.

Your personal Practice Plan:

GOALS
Have specific goals for each of your practice weeks.
Make sure the goals are realistic and achievable. There is no prize for great intentions only. Also there is no point in setting impossible targets and then sinking into depression when you fail to achieve them. Focus on particular aspects of your technique each week.

SCHEDULE
– Allow time for both work and leisure.
– Have breaks at regular intervals. Remember “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

ENVIRONMENT
– Find a place to practise, preferably an area that you can use regularly.  
– Whilst limbering can be done in your own home it is desirable to have access to studio space for the actual dance workout.
– Try to arrange with your teacher for extra time outside of regular sessions, possibly prior to or after normal scheduled lessons.
– Avoid distractions such as television and telephones if working at home and wherever you are, switch off your mobile, put it on to message bank and resist the temptation to send or access text messages during your practice session.
– Keep a diary of your practice sessions. Write down how much time you have spent each day and list the actual work covered. Cross check this against your plan and goals to assess your progress.

HEALTH AND WELL BEING
– Get plenty of rest, avoid late nights and ensure that you eat sensibly and regularly to enable the body to function at its maximum efficiency.  
– Discuss a healthy diet plan with a nutritionist  and implement it – avoid bingeing.
– Build in time to get out in the fresh air as much as possible. As with all aspects of life, balance is the keynote. Excesses are usually counter-productive and this applies to excessive exercise.
– Sixty minutes is a reasonable time for practise. Avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. The longer the session the more likely you are to lose concentration and interest.

Jacqui Johnson, F.C.B.A. C.I.C.B., Cert. IV., F.I.S.T.D.
A Senior Examiner of the Cecchetti Ballet method for over thirty years, and a Senior Triple International  Examiner and lecturer of classical ballet, modern jazz, and tap dance for twenty years.  Jacqui was recently invited to attend the Cecchetti Ballet Australia Inaugural Conference and Examiners’ Meetings in Melbourne.
Jacqui is also a Registered Teacher with the Education Department in South Australia and has written dance courses for implementation in educational schools.

A former ballet company principal, television and musical theatre dancer and choreographer, Jacqui performed extensively in Great Britain and Australia prior to returning to her hometown Adelaide to dance and choreograph for television.

Together with her husband Kenneth Norman, Jacqui established and  co-directed a ballet company “Ballet for All” which presented programmes designed specifically for children during the biennial Adelaide Festival of Arts. The company also subsequently toured the programmes to country centres throughout South Australia.

For many years she has travelled constantly throughout Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and New Zealand examining teachers and students of all ages as well as conducting lectures and courses. During the past twenty years she has made numerous visits to Taiwan to teach and examine, having introduced teachers to examination syllabi in classical ballet and modern jazz dance.

Jacqui is Co-Principal of the Tenison College of Dance, a comprehensive dance school which she founded with her husband, Kenneth Norman in 1966 in Adelaide, South Australia. The College has for many years entered students for grade, major and status examinations in Classical Ballet, Modern & Jazz Dance, Tap Dance and National Character Dance.

Photo: Dancers of Move Through Life Dance Company in rehearsal

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