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Willow School of Dance follows a programme of IDTA (International Dance Teachers Association) exams.  The school has at least one exam session per term and normally two or three.  Children are only entered when it is felt they are ready for an exam and then it is vital that regular attendance to class is maintained and that they attend any extra lessons scheduled for them.

For a newcomer the exam system can be quite bewildering so here is a quick guide to the different types of exams on offer.

Rosettes – Rosette exams are designed for 3 to 8 year olds. For these exams candidates perform two short routines for an examiner. The children go into the exam in small groups of around 4 – 6. The result is either a pass/fail and successful candidates receive a certificate and rosette. It is an ideal introduction to the exam system for younger candidates and it is usual for pupils to have taken several rosettes before attempting a grade examination.

Grade Exams – These are available in Ballet & Tap dance.  With grade exams candidates perform in twos or threes and perform without a teacher in the room.  They begin at 10 minutes in length and gradually increase to half an hour.  Candidates have to have a thorough knowledge of all work from that grade and from the grades preceding.  Technique is of great importance and candidates are only entered for grade exams after a sufficient period of study and usually some extra lessons in smaller groups.  Self-discipline and presentation are also extremely important in grade exams.  All candidates receive a report and successful candidates a certificate and plaque.

Medal Tests – Medal tests form the basis of the exam system for Freestyle, Disco, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country and Western and Street dance. Candidates go into the exam in small groups and perform together Successful candidates receive a report, certificate and medal or plaque dependant on the exam. Candidates are assessed on rhythmic interpretation, co-ordination of hand and foot movements and presentation. Medal tests are also available for Ballet and Tap.

Theatre Star Dance Awards – These are awards designed for children aged 8 – 13 who are beginners or as a way to bridge the gap between two grade exams.  Candidates dance in a small group without a teacher and perform one set routine and a dance.  They are available in Tap & Ballet and successful candidates receive a certificate and a badge.

Pre-Juvenile Award – This is an exam designed for Ballet Students before they take the Preparatory exam.  It follows the same format as the Grade exam, however candidates can go in in groups of 4, 6, or 8 and they also have a teacher dancing with them. The whole exam is conducted rather like a normal class.  All candidates receive a report and successful candidates receive a certificate and plaque.  This is a good exam to bridge the gap between rosettes and grade exams and to teach the discipline and presentation required for exams.

Musical Theatre Awards - These`are group tests where the candidates have to demonstrate a series of vocal and physical exercises and then perform a short (5 - 10 minutes) musical theatre piece encompassing singing, drama and movement/dance.

Willow School of Dance also offers Adult Medal Tests in Ballet, Tap & Freestyle Jazz which comprise of several short routines.  Candidates go in in groups of up to 4 and are graded in the same way as the children’s medal tests.  All successful candidates receive a certificate and medal.

Common questions asked by parents before exams.

1) Can I come in and watch the exam? No. Theatre examinations are deemed ‘closed’ by the IDTA as candidates require great concentration and silence when in exams so that they can focus on the examiner’s requests.

2) Why does my child need extra lessons for an exam?  - Dance exams are like any exam – practice makes perfect, and you wouldn’t expect your child to take a school exam without putting in some extra study before the exam date.  Even if your child practices regularly at home it is essential that their work is checked over by a teacher so that faults do not develop. Also extra lessons are normally conducted in the hall where the exam will take place and in the groups that your child will be going into the exam with.  This is almost always a smaller group than the one they are with in normal class and this can quite often throw a child – so these extra lessons are essential.  The last extra lesson before an exam is conducted as a mock exam so that your child is fully familiar with the exam procedure and feels totally prepared.  Costs for extra lessons are kept as low as possible and are only charged to cover costs.

3) Presentation and grooming are highly important and all candidates should check they have the correct uniform for their particular exam. Make-up or jewellery are not allowed for ballet or tap exams.

Suitable costumes are allowed for freestyle, street, rock’n’roll and country & western exams.



The Willow School of Dance performs a show every two years at the Secombe Theatre, Sutton.  All students have the opportunity to take part in this very special experience which is developed to a high standard in choreography, costumes and theatrecraft.  It is the ultimate way to show-off what we have learnt in class and parents speak of increased confidence in children who have performed in our previous shows.  It certainly is the highlight of the school calendar.

Students are expected to maintain regular attendance in the run-up to the show and to attend all rehearsals and performances at the theatre.  Failure to do so not only lets down their teachers but their class mates as well.  To take part in the show students will be required to pay a costume hire charge for each dance they appear in.


Principal: Sam Whyatt OMLJ, MA, BSc, BCMA (Reg), ITEC, FIDTA
email: sam@willowdance.co.uk
Phone: 07877 325797