3 tips you need to know for the ISTD Ballet exams

September 8, 2021 at 4:00 AM
A ballet dancer's feet in position for a performance.

Dance exams, like any other kinds of exams, require preparation ahead of time in order to perform at your best. Given their physical component, though, preparing for this kind of exam isn’t as simple as studying hard and getting a good night’s sleep before taking it (though these things are important!). Particularly for the ISTD Ballet exams, there are certain steps you’ll need to pay extra attention to ahead of time.

The Landing Dance Centre trains students in Imperial Classic Ballet and prepares them for the ISTD Ballet exams from the pre-primary class level up to the intermediate level. Whether you’re looking at a serious future in ballet or simply interested in a physical activity to keep you moving and occupied, our instructors will teach you skillfully and prepare you for the ISTD exams at every grade level. Read on for some of our tips for preparing yourself on the day of one of these exams.

Work with your instructor and practice

The first and most obvious thing to do is to work closely with your instructor, pay attention to their feedback, and practice your positions, forms, and movements enough that they become muscle memory the day of the exam. We’ve written about the importance of practice before an audition before, and it’s no different in this case. If you’re struggling with a particular movement or form, talk with your instructor about it and let them correct you. Even the most skilled, well-trained ballet instructors have probably been in this position before!

One thing to keep in mind, though, is not to over-train, especially on the day of your exam. It’s good to have a solid understanding of what you’ll be doing during the exam and for every movement to feel as natural as possible to you, but doing it to the extent that you tire yourself out becomes counter-productive. Set aside a couple of hours every day to practice everything you’ll be doing up until the day of the exam, but when that day comes, make sure you’re well-rested and able to move comfortably.

Stay relaxed

Jumping off the previous point, it’s essential that you stay relaxed before taking your exam. This is important for any big test, but especially so for something as physical and intricate as Imperial Classic Ballet. Beyond just making sure you aren’t obsessively practicing the day of the exam or over-training on the days leading up to it, this does also mean getting a sufficient amount of sleep ahead of time.

The point about practice also plays a big role in how relaxed you are for your ISTD exams, too. If you don’t feel completely comfortable with your knowledge of the positions, forms, and movements you need to know, chances are you’ll be fairly worried about how well you’ll do when you finally do take the exam. When you’re confident in your knowledge and abilities, you have a much greater ability to truly perform at your best.

Stretch before the exam

Stretching is important for similar reasons as the point about over-training. Obviously, for something that involves as much physical movement as ballet, you need to be able to move comfortably. Stretching is important not only for this purpose, but also to make sure you don’t accidentally injure yourself while performing the movements required of you for the exam.

Ideally, you should stretch before every practice session, too. This is likely something which your instructor will include during every session with you, and for good reason; you shouldn’t think of it as just optional prep work that’s less important than the dancing itself. To perform fluid, graceful motions in a physically safe way, it’s essential that you make stretching an integral part of your routine and especially make a point of doing it the day of your exam.

Let us prepare you

When you decide to take up Imperial Classic Ballet with the Landing Dance Centre, you can rest assured you’ll be prepared for every level of the ISTD Ballet exams with the help of our skilled, professionally-trained instructors. Reach out to us by giving us a call at 604-325-8653 or sending a message through our online contact form.