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Studio Directors, what is your view on re-auditioning your company members every year? It’s definitely, food for thought.
The most obvious reason is it gives new dancers an opportunity to move up from either apprentice, junior company, performance groups, etc. It also gives new dancers to the studio an opportunity to audition and get a sense of what the commitment entails; i.e. how "company" works.

For returning dancers, sometimes there is a preconceived notion that it’s a given that once they're in, they're in. Not the best mindset for students to acquire. Dancers at any level need to continually feel challenged and self-motivated to want to progress. When students get into the habit of thinking they are in company automatically, it’s inevitable that some attitudes and effort may potentially shift.  There is nothing wrong with keeping dancers on their toes and giving this little reminder of the hard work and dedication expected and required of them year after year.


Being in a company is a privilege, NOT a given. Dancers that have been in company for one or two years have to be aware they should be dancing and behaving above and beyond anyone new to the auditions. The expectation should be greater, not lower....they already know the ropes and should be an example to others. By re-auditioning, you're also getting a chance to see who really wants this 100%. Be mindful, it's also perfectly acceptable for those dancers who decide the rigor and commitment of company and performance groups is not for them and prefer to stay on a recreational level. The issue comes into play when dancers say they're invested in it and provide mediocre or half-hearted work ethic and performance. Again, not a precedent you want to enable.

Remember to always keep it positive and explain why this re-auditioning occurs. Be clear and make all expectations transparent. You don’t want students to think you hold these auditions just to be mean. There are credible reasons behind every move a studio director makes. These decisions support and nurture a student’s growth. That growth is our responsibility.


Ultimately, one's own individual performance, attitude and enthusiasm will be the deciding factors and those who are not presently a good fit for company (for varying reasons) will weed themselves out. Keep in mind that re-auditioning gives you a fresh eye on students as a new season begins. It will give you insight to where they're at heading into the year, how hard they've been working over the summer and how badly they "want it."  We want all of our dancers to achieve their goals and feel proud of the wherewithal and dedication they put forth in themselves to achieve them, whatever they are, year after year.

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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