Recently many of us mourned the passing of an inspiring dance teacher in Somerset by the name of Joy Tinney. Her christian name pretty much summed her and her teaching methods up perfectly. She encouraged students of all abilities to create, to strive to be better and most importantly to discover the Joy of dance. Her teaching involved no suffocating syllabus and no military like exam work. What it did embrace was dancing from the heart, without fear or restriction.
This got me to thinking about dance exams and what exactly there is to be gained from them………
When I audition dancers and I can straight away see who has been shackled by exams. They often show lack of personality, fear of dancing outside the box and struggle with creation and spontaneity I understand of course the need to teach basic technique but I question just how useful the dance exam world is for life beyond teaching. I often hear students say that they take all these exams incase they don’t make it as a dancer, my answer always is why focus on what COULD go wrong? Why prepare for failure? This feels such an odd way to look at life. You can’t always have a back up, if you really believe you are cut out for a career in performing then do just that. Invest your time in discovering who you are as a dancer, be unique, celebrate your diversity but don’t be a clone. We all have one life to live and spending time preparing for failure sits very oddly with me. Think of the amount of hours spent studying for a syllabus that could perhaps instead be spent discovering your own individual style and technique.
Dancers often ask what it is I look for from them in auditions. Obviously there is a certain technical element one requires but beyond that it is dancing from the heart, the passion in someones eyes and the will to go that extra step. For me my career as a dancer was never a question, there were no back up plans, no endless exams, no pieces of paper claiming any award. I just jumped straight it and took the plunge. Go for it and don’t look back.
I am so grateful of Joy’s teaching and her work ethic and freedom she installed in us all. Joy you will be sorely missed, I hope you are still tap dancing up in heaven.
Remember be yourself because an original is worth far more than a copy.