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Everything we do we should be done with intention. From taking a breath to mastering a step of choreography, it is so important to remain present in the space you are in at any given moment. In a time where thoughts are usually chased with the next one and the never-ending list of things that need to be done, it is common that we are always one step ahead of ourselves. In doing that, we lose that sense of mindfulness, which is so important four our brains, but also our hearts.

How we go about our own sense of mindfulness is priority. Not only as teachers but as individuals. Are we present in the moment when we are teaching or are we somewhere else? Are we thinking of what needs to be done after class or next week when our students are standing right in front of us? Are we teaching with purpose and giving ourselves and our students the full attention they deserve? Are we present fully in the space during the designated amount of time? If we’re not, then that is a lesson our students are picking us from us too.

Part of teaching effectively and nurturing the individual student fully, mind, body and spirit is to also develop the habit or nurturing their own healthy practice of mindfulness and how to bring their attention to the here and now. To forget about everything else going on outside the studio doors for that hour and, “just be.” To give what they are doing integrity, intention and focus. To embody it fully and cherish that moment. As we know, it is not an easy feat at any age and as we grow up the ability to do this can become more difficult. But, if we start with little reminders here and there for ourselves and our dancers, we are planting a seed to enjoy being in the moment before it is fleeting. It also gives students a sense of groundedness and value in what they are doing in the moment. It gives it merit, weight and substance.

Being present and mindful is harder than it looks. But learning to be thoughtful about one’s presence and actions can change the scope of how one learns and appreciates all that is around them from an inhale/exhale to a 32 count fouetté sequence they perform on stage.


Good luck.

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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