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  • Writer's pictureLynn Armsby

The Case for a Less Technical Dance Award

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

As a dance teacher and examiner with many years of experience I have often trained and examined dancers who require reasonable adjustment for their dance awards.

Properly applied, reasonable adjustment provides fair and equal access to examinations.

Reasonable adjustment is defined as an action that will reduce the effect of a disability or difficulty that places the learner at a substantial disadvantage during assessment. This might include actions such as giving a candidate extra time or rearranging the examination room. There are many more examples.

These adjustments though should not affect the integrity of the examination. This means that a candidate still has to reach the same learning outcomes or level of skill expected of that grade.

For awarding bodies who examine candidates with permanent physical disability or with learning disability, maintaining the integrity of the assessment is challenging. As an example let us take a lady with severe arthritis in her feet who is therefore unable to flex her ankle or rise onto her toes. The only reasonable adjustment here is if the lady proves that she understands footwork by vocalising the footwork as she moves (an exercise usually applied to professional examinations). The problem is even more challenging when examining those dancers who have learning impairment.

In the IDTA , the Rosette syllabus and the social dance awards (a less technical examination strand) can be used. However keen dancers who stay in our schools for long periods soon get through these awards. In any event I would personally question the use of a syllabus designed for 3 -8 year olds as being appropriate for young adults with learning impairment. The dance work might be eminently suitable in terms of routine but what does receiving this award actually say to a young adult with disability?

IDTA Rosettes

I think many examiners will have examined with their heart and awarded high marks for learners with reduced capacity just because their “journey” has been harder.

However, this positive discrimination whilst noble in its approach does affect the integrity of the examination.

So I am left with this question. Should there be another type of dance award which does not have such a high technical threshold? Perhaps a candidate could pass an examination by making a credible performance with musicality and interpretation within their own learning capacity. Furthermore, is there a case for a new dance award for those dancers who want to mark their progress but in a less technical arena?

The debate will no doubt bring up many issues and hopefully some solutions. How about a forum so that we can exchange ideas? Paramount in this debate though should be input from dancers who have a disability. How best can we serve you?

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