Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.







Technique is a crucial aspect of any dance class, we all know that. It is the fundamental foundation of dance which propels a dancer’s growth, increases flexibility, enhances strength and teaches them essentially, “how to dance.” If our dancers are with us long enough, they learn our warm-ups and often know them backwards and forwards without us doing it alongside them. This is great because it affords the dance teacher more time observe to give and make tactile corrections, but it can also have the potential for dancers to go on auto-pilot and check out; especially if they are not being mindful of every single plie and tendu they are putting forth.

This is especially true when we get into performance season as well. It’s very easy for us to want to bypass the long technique warm-up and jump right into rehearsals to save time and perfect our work. In doing this though, we are doing our dancers a great disservice by allowing them to just jump into choreography. We are then certainly not setting the precedent of how important technique warm-up is. We are setting a tone and demonstrating that sometimes it’s OK to not do it. And that’s not the case.

Even when we are pressed for time, there are still ways to warm up your dancers effectively, move things along and allow them to focus on the same lessons as a traditional technique class. The idea is to be innovative. Changing it up will also keep your dancers on their toes to see something new thrown into the mix for a change. It will keep them thinking and working hard and in turn developing and growing.

So before you bypass technique give a quick thought as to how you can get your dancers warm and keep them learning. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated and these three simple and effective ideas below are sure to do just the trick. Remember technique, technique, technique makes for a strong, capable and versatile dancer regardless of genre.

#1: Combining Elements: If you are pressed for time, think about combining different exercises into phrases. This can work well stationary in center and especially traveling across the floor. Create a moving phrase that travels from one side of the room to the other including: plies, tendus, swings, floor work, rond de jambs, battements, turns, etc. The more advanced dancers can handle multiple exercises in one lengthy phrase. For beginner or intermediate levels start with shorter phrases and include one or two things in isolation, like plie and tendus transitioned with a turn or chasse or roll, etc. This will get dancers moving, warmed up and still executing the exercises they would normally do in isolation at the barre or in a full center warm-up.

#2: Improvisation: Improvisation does not necessarily mean, “Just make up a dance and do whatever you want.” When done with intention and directive a long, improvisation warm-up can include technical components to have a dancer be guided through a technique warm-up, albeit in a refreshing, new way. Having dancers moving through space and calling out another element you want them to add next, i.e., “Tendus or any sort of stretch of the foot or lower leg into a stretch of the lower body,” or, “any turn variation from a leg swing movement,” etc. can also be extremely effective not only in including technical elements but as their stretch time to warm-up their bodies.

#3: Partner Work: Have your students work with partners on a given exercises or number of exercises they do together or one at a time. This will provide a feeling of collaboration as well as introducing peer feedback and support. If mature enough to handle this type of warm-up, it gives them a chance to watch how others work in class as well, how to self-assess and self-correct. You may even give them parameters for creating their own plie or tendu phrase, etc. where they are demonstrating and performing with their partner. Partner work is also very handy in the stretching and core portion of warm-up so utilize exercises where they are helping each other, perhaps using counter balance, working off each other in sit up exercises, etc.

Good luck,

 See you in the dance studio,


Join our Community of Dance Educators By CLICKING HERE

Get instant access to 1000+ videos including full length master classes, "How To" teacher training tips, Choreography with break downs and 100's of lesson plans and teacher enhancement articles

We offer dance studio owners the ultimate toolkit with business building articles, videos and downloadable forms. Topics include help with marketing, increasing revenue and improving communication.

Our Studio Owners VIP consulting services offer one-on-one coaching for a more hands on approach to your business development. Inspiration is only a click away!


Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford is a native New Yorker and graduate of NYU Steinhardt's Dance Education Master’s Program; with a PK-12 New York State Teaching Certification. Her double-concentration Master’s Degree includes PK-12 pedagogy and dance education within the higher-education discipline. She also holds a BFA in dance performance from the UMASS Amherst 5 College Dance Program where she was a Chancellor's Talent Award recipient. Jess now works extensively with children, adolescents and professionals as choreographer and teacher and conducts national and international master-classes specializing in the genres of modern, contemporary, musical theatre and choreography-composition. Jess’ national and international performance career includes works such as: The National Tour of Guys & Dolls, The European Tour of Grease, West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, Salute to Dudley Moore at Carnegie Hall, guest-dancer with the World Famous Pontani Sisters and IMPULSE Modern Dance Company. Jess has been a faculty member for the Perichild Program & Peridance Youth Ensemble & taught contemporary and jazz at the historic New Dance Group and 92nd Street Y in NYC. She was Company Director at the historic Steffi Nossen School of Dance/Dance in Education Fund and in 2008 traveled to Uganda where she taught creative-movement to misplaced children. The experience culminated with Jess being selected as a featured instructor at the Queen's Kampala Ballet & Modern Dance School. She has conducted workshops for the cast of LA REVE at the Wynn, Las Vegas and recently taught at the 2011 IDS International Dance Teacher Conference at The Royal Ballet in London, UK. She is also on faculty for the annual Dance Teacher Web Conferences in Las Vegas, NV. Currently, Jess is a faculty member at the D'Valda & Sirico Dance & Music Centre and master teacher & adjudicator for various national and international dance competitions. Recently, she has finished her NYU Master’s thesis research on the choreographic process of technically advanced adolescent dancers and is the creator of “PROJECT C;” a choreography-composition curriculum for the private studio sector. Jess is also faculty member, contributing writer and presenter in the choreography and “how to” teaching segments on the celebrated For more info, visit her website at

1580 Post Road Fairfield, CT © Copyright 2022 by