Thursday was our choreography assessments. The task was to create a two to two and a half minute 'study' (can't really be defined as a 'piece' with that length of time), on 1-3 people.
The subject matter was up to us, as was the choice of music. And we had to also dance in at least one other person's choreography.
It was a long (constantly trying to keep warm and focused when your group is last to perform is quite tiring) but enjoyable day. Assessments are generally done in the theatre. NSCD has a beautiful stage and theatre, so its always exciting to perform there.
Overall I think everybody's work was strong, as were the performances. People asked me how mine went and I answered 'yeah, good, went well I think. They danced it well.'
But here's the weird thing, I also have to answer 'But I don't know what that means'. I have no idea if I've failed, passed, done well or scored top marks.
Ands thats the difficult thing about a dance degree. There are of course marking criteria and assessment guidelines for students, but (and this is a totally personal opinion of course) you can never be one hundred percent sure if a piece of work will get you a good mark or not.
I think this is due to the fact that what can be defined as a 'successful' dance is hugely variable from human to human, and despite what some people may think, our teachers are in fact human. I don't envy their job of coming to an agreement on marks.
Plus, what we think a good piece of choreography now, at this point in our career, is naturally going to be slightly different to our highly experienced teachers.
Due to this aspect of variability I feel there are two ways to approach a dance degree. You can read up on the criteria, try to guess what the teachers want to get top marks and build your work around this.
Or you can bear the criteria in mind, create your work in the way you want to, taking the guidance thats there and see what happens in terms of marks. And carry this experience with you to inform the next work.
On foundation Shirley Jacobs, the foundation co ordinator said something I always remember (she actually said many things I remember. She's super good). It was that its the process, and what you learn from it, that's important. Even when the product didn't work.
So, does this mean that in a dance degree marks are irrelevant? Its the whole process, which can only be marked personally, that counts? Can I tell them that at auditions?
Although, then of course there is the ego. And I want a first.