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Dance Teachers

Many times a dancer’s flexibility develops more quickly that their strength; particularly in terms of leg extensions. While this delayed lack of control can increase injury, implementing exercises that balance the two components can increase the range of motion as well as help a dancer identify the muscles working and initiation of movement. The focus for the dancer to be to hold and resist; understanding they are not gripping at the quad and feeling underneath.

Below is a quick, effective exercise you can do with your dancers to work on developing arabesque and grand battement while helping them achieve increased strength and flexibility as well as proper hip alignment.

Good luck!

See you in the dance studio,


Part I: Have dancer stand with their back to the barre and hold on with both hands. Begin in parallel first position and have dancer come to parallel passé. As they begin to developpé the leg front, hold on to their leg and slowly lift the leg up into a stretch while the dancer presses down and resists against it. Have them release and rest the leg in your hands. Repeat the extension 3-5 times.

Progression: After the final repetition, let go of their leg and see if the dancer can hold the extended position to the front on their own.

Part II: Repeat in second position.

Part III: Repeat in arabesque.

Part IV: Have the dancer stand at the barre in turned out first position and repeat 10-15 grand battement swings front to back. This will help to loosen the muscles they just stretched and feel the hips and legs working in proper alignment while supporting the control of the leg and using their flexibility.


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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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