Royal Academy of Dance - Examinations - Graded Syllabus

Graded Syllabus

The Graded Examination Syllabus consists of Pre-Primary, Primary, and numbered Grades 1-8. Each grade incorporates classical ballet, free movement and character dance. The syllabus is devised to progress in difficulty from one grade to the next and a student studying the grades in sequence would be expected to develop a greater degree of dance technique at each level.

  • Classical Ballet is one of the most widespread dance forms in the world. Originating in the Italian royal courts of the Renaissance period, over hundreds of years it has been developed into a highly technical dance form. Ballet is the foundation of the RAD's work and is the most important part of the Graded Syllabi.
  • Free Movement is the term applied to movement from dance styles such as natural movement, contemporary and Classical Greek dance. Free movement does not have to include codified dance vocabulary and is usually an improvisation based on the students interpretation of a piece of music or stimulus.
  • Character Dance is an integral part of classical ballet repertoire. It is the stylised representation of a traditional folk dance, normally from a European country and uses movements and music which have been adapted for the theatre. The RAD syllabus uses character dances based on Hungarian, Russian and Polish folk dance.

Students who have studied a complete grade from the syllabus will normally take an examination organised by their dance teacher and held at the teachers studio or a suitable venue hired for the occasion. In the examination, the students perform the relevant grade work for an RAD examiner, who assesses the artistic and technical execution of the grade. A successful candidate receives a certificate printed with their name and the grade passed. They also receive a report detailing what marks were awarded and highlighting which aspects of their performance need further improvement. Unsuccessful candidates receive a report and a certificate of participation. The Pre-Primary grade is devised for younger students who are not old enough to enter the Primary examination. There is no examination offered at this level, however students can take part in a Presentation Class.

Presentation Classes were introduced for students who a dance teacher feels may not benefit from, or be suitable for taking the series of examinations. In a Presentation Class, in contrast to an examination, the teacher and a small audience of spectators are present in the room. The students perform for an examiner but are not assessed. They dance a condensed selection of exercises from the appropriate grade and receive a certificate of participation, which is normally presented by the examiner at the end of the class.

As a syllabus devised specifically with children in mind, examinations are not compulsory. The entry level of a new student is decided by the dance teacher based upon the child’s age, natural ability for dance or previous examination passes with another dance school or examination board, such as the IDTA or ISTD.

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