Dancing school based in Dorchester, Dorset offering dance classes, performing arts, musical theatre, tap, ballet, street dance, cheerleading, singing, boys dance classes and adult dance classes.

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Examinations in Modern Theatre, Tap and Classical Ballet for our Junior 1 students and above

During classes, our students will be learning one of the ISTD’s carefully structured dance syllabi.  Each week they will progress together with their teacher through a selection of technical exercises and performance sequences created by an expert team of dance and theatre creators.  THE STUDIO is proud to be a member of The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, one of the world’s leading dance examination boards.

Our clearly defined examination structure caters for all types of learners, whether they wish to progress to making dance their profession or those pursuing dance purely as a leisure activity, all whilst taking place in the context of safe dance practice. From age 5 and above 

The ISTD is one of the worlds leading dance examination boards with the widest range of dance genres available. Conducting over 120,000 examinations globally each year with a wide spectrum of vocational, recreational, and social dance exams to children, students, amateurs and professionals. 

Established in 1904, the ISTD has a historical mission to educate the public in the art of dancing in all its forms, and today the Society continues to strive to advance excellence in dance teaching and education. They promote knowledge in each specialty and provide up-to-date techniques in the ever-changing world of dance, helping to maintain and improve teaching standards in schools, academies and performing arts settings across the world.

Examinations are such a positive and confidence enhancing experience, we couldn’t recommend them more.  Students have a clear goal and will be able to see the reward for their hard work and progress at each and every level they study at. And they achieve so many further skills as well, skills such as self-discipline, how to prepare for an important event and the importance of practice towards it, individual presentation and teamwork.   Furthermore, many of our examinations hold a points value with The National Qualifications Framework (NFQ), meaning that students can use their points achieved from their dance exams for college and university applications, and even towards higher level qualifications in later years.

Examination Invitations

Once a class has reached an exam ready standard, students will receive an examination invitation, inviting them to book

for their exam via our website. Please do carefully note the closing date on your invitation as late entries unfortunately cannot be accepted by the examinations board. Before accepting your invitation

and making your booking, please check the examination preparation schedule and ensure you are able to make each practice.

Booking Online

Your first booking will cover your entry fee to The ISTD together with the running costs of the examination day.

There will then be a second booking due slighter later on to cover the cost of your examination preparation sessions and administration.

Examination Preparation

During examination preparation, our students will be taken through a short course of valuable prep sessions.  These will help to secure their syllabus work, strengthen their knowledge and develop their overall performance.  The additional hours really accelerate the student’s technical and artistic capability and make a vital difference to their overall result.  Exam Preparation runs across a two-week period prior to the exam date and must be attended by those entering their examination.

Being Ready

In most cases, all students will be exam ready together as a group, but if a class member has perhaps started with us part way through the academic year, shown limited attendance for injury or illness, or missed some of the previous levels, we can offer some additional top up lessons to make sure they are fully prepared, the most important thing for us is to ensure that each and every individual is at the necessary point to go into an exam situation and that the entire experience is positive, enjoyable and rewarding. From our wonderful 5-year olds through to our inspiring young adults, we always endeavour to create happy exam memories for everyone involved.

As we have mentioned already, practice is key, and we encourage our students to set aside some time and space at home to rehearse their exam work, most of the exercises and sequences are performed one at a time in the examination meaning instant memory recall and all with confidence and a smile. To assist with home practice, families will be sent a link to a class drop box file containing syllabus music and other helpful documents to support their learning.


Following the exam, the examiner will submit his or her markings to The ISTD Head Quarters in London where they will be checked and moderated before being released to the registered school, this can take anything up to 12 weeks.  An individual report detailing the student’s areas of success and improvement will be available at this stage as well as an official certificate which will be presented on stage at THE STUDIO presentation day held each year.

Exam Day

Students will need to arrive as ready as possible 50 minutes prior to their exam time (unless first in the day, in which case 30 mins is plenty of time).  Seniors and Premiers please head straight to the back of The Studio building where our little purple shed will be set up for the day, Juniors, one of the team will meet you and take you around. The Studio and our foyer area will be kept only for the group waiting to go in and the group coming out of their exam, either Miss Emilie or one of our STUDIO students will come and collect the next exam group when it’s time to get ready to go in.

Umbrellas are a good idea if it looks like rain, and also some slip-on shoes and a hoodie or similar to walk to and from The Studio main building.

To help create a calm, quiet and un-clustered space for our exam candidates, we ask that students are signed in with one of THE STUDIO team at the front of the building.  Please note that parents and family members will be unable to wait on site during examination day and should leave students in the care of THE STUDIO team.

Once the exam is complete, we will then sign students back over to their family at the same meeting spot.


We aim for complete invisibility with this.

Younger children should wear none (we tell them it’s just like wearing a swimming costume!)

Older girls will need seamless flesh coloured underwear including a proper flesh coloured dance bra with clear elastic strapping, please note that normal bras are not suitable for dance, the correct support and fabric is part of safe dance practice.


We always recommend investing in new socks/tights for an exam, but if you are using current ones, please make sure they are in good condition without and ladders or pulls, they can also lose their colourafter many washes.

Shoes for ballet 

Please also ensure shoes are nice and clean and fit well, too small and the dancer will not be able use their demi-pointe and too big makes the foot look under-stretched.

Ballet Skirts and Belts

Skirts need to be clean and pressed (cool iron) and must be worn on the waist to show the middle line of the body, they may need a stitch to help them stay up. Ballet belts need to be neatly stitched to fit snug on the waist.

Hair for Ballet 

Super neat with no strays or wispy bits as I call them, very secure and well sprayed, styles for ballet need to be a classical, so either a bun or a French plait tucked under, you can also have two plaits wrapped across, none of the hair should be loose, thin and neat fringes are fine but just make sure they don’t fall too low or irritate, foreheads can get a bit sweaty in an exam.  Whichever style you choose, make sure it is really, really secure, they need to be able to use their heads sharply without worrying about their hair coming loose, I would also suggest testing out your style at a couple of classes before the exam to double check it works for you.

Shorter hair styles can have a simple hair band to keep the hair off the face, otherwise no accessories or adornments are allowed at all, it’s all about the simplicity for ballet, if you are needing to use grips, they will need to match the colour of your hair.

Hair for Theatre exams 

Theatre styles are very much a personal choice, all the hair needs to be up and exceptionally neat using plenty of spray / gel etc.

Older girls should avoid any younger looking pigtail styles.  Please use hair bands that are either clear, the colour of your hair or matching to your uniform.

Small scrunchies and so on are allowed though must be understated. Thin short fringes are fine for theatre.

Please consider floor work – if exercises show on the floor are applicable to you, you will need to be able to lie flat on the back of your head.

Also, long ponytails or plaits that might make turns difficult.

All styles need to be tight and very secure to ensure the students can dance their best without their style falling loose.

Please make sure you have tested out your chosen style at a couple of classes before the exam.


Theatre – Light and natural ok for Senior 3 and above.

Ballet – Nothing for younger ones, very natural and understated for older girls.


None for all students as this is a health and safety aspect for physical activity, if we have any new piercings please let us know.


No brightly coloured nails, only clear/French polish.  Toenails will be on show for modern examinations so should be neatly trimmed.

Fingernails should be a sensible length.


Skin Markings

Body glitter, temporary or permanent tattoos, henna etc are not permitted and must not be visible for the examination.

“Making sure you have ticked off all the above will have a really positive impact on your exam, if you feel neat and tidy you will definitely dance neat and tidy too. A dancer’s presentation will be reflected in the overall mark and gives the examiner a good first impression.” Miss Emilie

Reports and Certificates

These will come through to us anything between 3 and 12 weeks after the exam, as soon as they arrive your teacher will hand reports out during lesson time, certificates will be presented at ‘THE STUDIO Oscars’.

The Importance of Practice

Although we do always have exam preparation schedule in place, is it key that students keep running through their syllabus at home…it really makes all the difference.

PLEASE NOTE: If a candidate is unable to take an examination due to illness, the ISTD will refund up to 50% of fee on receipt of a doctor’s certificate.

If anybody needs anything, please just let me know and very best of luck to all our Studio ballerinas, you’ll all be fantastic!


Thank you everyone.

Miss Emilie