When students reach Year 2 (Grade 1) they are introduced to Character Dance.
Character Dance is the theatrical presentation of national and folk dance. This style is still used in traditional ballets such as Swan Lake, Coppélia, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty. Young dancers study the traditional steps, posture, and port de bras (movement of the arms) from different countries. Character dance is a brilliant opportunity to enrich young children’s knowledge of the world, developing an awareness of geography and defining cultural differences.
Character work teaches musicality, rhythm and mime, often working with a prop such as a watering can, a garland or a headdress. The character dance music used in the RAD syllabus is orchestrated and uses traditional instruments from the country they are studying.
Each grade offer an introduction to new country:
Grade One: Russian
Grade Two: Hungarian
Grade Three: Ukrainian
Grade Four: Italian
Grade Five: Polish
Character Dance represents about a third of the syllabus. The children use character skirts and shoes and spend the last 15 minutes studying the dance style allotted to their grade in preparation for a solo performance in their exam.
The partner work involved in character dance enables dancers to interact with each other developing trust and confidence, as well as a sense of working together for mutual benefit. It builds confidence in dancers and prepares them for partner work aiding their transition to pas de deux later on.