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The time inside the studio is filled with structure. Dance teachers have their lesson plans, format, choreography, etc. ready to go. This is how we keep the flow of the class organized and full of content-rich material. This is also part of classroom management and keeping a dancer’s attention focused so that they get the most out of their class-time and stay on task. But what happens when you have dancers who are there, often times all day and have class after class? How do we keep the transition between classes as well as break time organized and flowing as well? A dancer’s down time is just as important and should be filled with the same routine and consistency as their class time. So how do we do it? Here are a few tips below to keep the schedule moving smoothly and keeping your dancers, “in the zone,” while they are moving and grooving outside of the classroom.

1.       Before Classes: Set your expectations on what you expect dancers to do before class. It may seem obvious to us, but never assume a student knows. Communication is key. What time do you expect your dancers to arrive before class/rehearsal? When they arrive, what would you like them to do? Warm-up, stretch, review, etc. Are they allowed to start their homework done? What time would you actually like them inside the studio vs. being at the studio but in the locker room/bathroom, etc.?

2.       Transition between classes: Keep traffic moving. Make sure students know this is not a full-on break. Make sure dancers know how much time they have between classes so that they can grab water, use the restroom, change, grab shoes, notebooks, chat quickly, etc. Unless they need to call a parent or caregiver, this is not the time to check phones, do a Tik-Tok or hang out in the dressing room. Dancers should make their way to the next class, take a second to themselves and begin stretching, reviewing choreography, etc.

3.       Break Time: If dancers are there at the studio long enough to have a devoted lunch or dinner break, if feasible, have a designated space/table, etc. where they can sit down and eat properly together, talk to one another without screaming and take the rest-time they need. This also builds camaraderie and relationships. To that, remind dancers that bringing healthy meal options and snacks is vital to keeping up energy. Fueling their bodies to sustain them for their whole dance day is an important habit to instill for all.

4.       Clean Up Time: Make sure you have a protocol in place for clean up after break times and at the end of classes/end of day. Is there one or two people in charge that day to oversee clean-up or is everyone responsible for their own mess, belongings, etc.? Does this rotate? Remind dancers, the studio is their second home and we all have to do our part to respect it and keep it clean and tidy. This goes for left items in the studios and dressing areas as well.

5.       Phones: What is your phone policy? This one should be made very clear to students at the beginning of the year and become studio policy across the board. Are students allowed to keep their phones on them? Do they have designated cubbies they place them in when entering the studios? Are phones completely off limits while they are there? Are they allowed to check them during break time? Decided what works best for you and your dancers and make this a consistent practice so everyone is on the same page.

Good luck to all!

See you in the dance studio,


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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

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