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Working with young dancers, we are accustomed to giving feedback, critique and correction as young bodies and minds progress and develop. While technical and performance skills are on the forefront of one’s training agenda, part of one’s dance education should also reflect alternative skills, which go hand in hand with that technique. The importance of instilling application of correction (and retaining those corrections, ) is an essential concept to impart, which students will take onto any profession. It’s also ironic that it is a skill very difficult for some to grasp.

Think about it. How many times have you been in class or rehearsal and given the same correction? Too many to count, right? Why is that? Maybe, young minds are still only able to grasp small bits of info at a time. Maybe some students need longer to process or a different method of delivery to comprehend. Maybe students just aren’t being mindful enough to give them heavy consideration.  Maybe they don’t practice the skill enough to improve. There are a million reasons why this could occur. But, it is our job to figure out what is going on and help them understand why applying corrections is so important.

Like anything, remembering corrections is just that, a skill that needs to be reinforced. Dancers should be getting in the habit of not only taking a correction, but processing it, applying it and maintaining it. This is just as important as how quickly they can pick up choreography. Getting a correction and applying it once and then forgetting it and reverting back to the incorrect way is a concept that should be discussed with your dancers in class. Chances are, this is not something on the forefront of their mind to give attention to. Especially when they are focused on perfecting pirouettes or holding a balance or getting their leg higher. As teachers we understand the significance and importance for a variety of reasons. It’s our responsibility to bring it to their attention as well…often.

Presenting the skill-set for dancers in a thoughtful way lets them know this trait will help them along whatever path they choose. No choreographer or employer wants to tell their dancer or employee ten times to correct something simple. And they certainly don’t want to revisit the issue after it’s been discussed a number of times because one simply forgot. Explain to dancers that retaining corrections means you understand how to self-assess, self-process and self-correct. It means you understand your own body mechanics and what works for you and your technique. Maintaining corrections means you care enough to think about it carefully, make the changes and apply them consistently so you can move forward onto the next bit of information. It means thinking about it enough that it becomes a good habit. It also means that when you don’t understand something, you can ask for help and a different way to grasp the concept.

So, like any skill, it will take time to develop.  Nurture the idea with your dancers and continue to emphasize its importance. Show them how integral a concept it is. Remind them to ask questions. Remind them it is part of their dance education, which will only propel them to the next level with time, thought and practice. Just like anything else in life!

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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