I recently received a question from a reader I thought might be interesting to post:
“Have you done any medal tests in dance? I am thinking of doing them but I am not sure of the benefits.”
I have done the Canadian Dancesport Federation (CDF) tests in all 10 dances in bronze and silver.
The benefits vary and really depend what you are looking for.
The test gives both a mark (ranging from Did Not Meet to Honours) and comments from the adjudicator for each dance (usually) which can be a helpful barometer.
It also forces you to learn a majority (if not all) of the syllabus steps which is a great foundation to have. Some dancers can’t (and don’t want or see a need to) explain the difference between a telemark, turn, impetus or spin turn, or dance a specific step on their own without a partner if asked (they probably can dance the step, but don’t know the name of the steps they are dancing, or what elements are included in a step).
It also depends how your instructor wants to prepare you as well, as all instructors are different with different priorities.
The added benefit for me is that it is nationally recognized. My work is likely to transfer me at some point, so I can go to any studio and say “I have passed this level” and that helps determine where I should be starting (in theory).
It comes down to goals in the end. What do you what from your dancing? Do you want a piece of paper that says your level and to understand the syllabus of steps or does that not matter? (And both are ok-it’s your dancing!). Tests also give an external direction and feedback from someone other than your instructor, which is sometimes nice to have! When you pass, you get a certificate and pins for each level of CDF, which is a little fun :).
Keep in mind that different dance organizations have different procedures and requirements for tests. You should expect to pay a cost to take the test in addition to paying costs for the adjudicator to administer the test if one does not live in your area.
For CDF tests, the tests consisted of me dancing through a prepared routine of syllabus steps with Boss until the adjudicator told us to stop. The tests are separate for each style, and the technique expected is higher for each level.
I hope that gives an ideas of the different benefits to medal testing, although if the benefits don’t line up with your own goals they may not be useful to you. It’s an individual choice.