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As we are in the midst of competition season and head into recital season in just a few weeks, there are a number of things we should include on our check list. One extremely important item that can transcend your year-end shows from “nice, little dances” to “professional caliber performances” is how you send your dancers onstage. With a million things to tend to, it’s easy sometimes to let things slip by with whether it be with your younger dancers and baby classes or maybe even with the recreational students. Applying expectations to every group, however, will definitely produce a recital where everyone presents themselves as unified, neat and streamlined. Consequently, those lasting impressions will be a direct correlation to your studio name and how the community perceives the professionalism of your business! Remember it all comes down to the details which make the difference; whether you are a full-on training facility or recreational studio!! The following are five important, simple reminders to help get your going in the right direction to achieve consistency amongst your performers. Year to year this will help evolve the expectation for recital and studio performances which will become clear and the norm across the board.

Reminder #1:

Everyone in a group piece should be wearing the same shoes. You may not think anyone will notice…but they will. Having your dancers all in the same shoes makes a HUGE difference. So, if a number is supposed to be in tan jazz shoes, then EVERYONE should be in tan jazz shoes; not one or two dancers in Pedinis, Paws, etc. Show-shoes should be NEW, CLEAN and have no markings on them or holes in them.

Reminder #2:

No ripped tights under any circumstances should go on that stage. PLEASE, make this a part of your send-home letter to parents prior to show time. Every dancer should be responsible for NEW, CLEAN, NEAT tights with no holes, tears, marks, etc. Every dancer should also be sure to bring back-up pairs for each number they are in. Also, please be sure every dancer is wearing the same kind of tight and color tight for each dance. Whether it is footless, stirrup, cropped, suntan, toast, black, fishnet, etc.

Reminder #3:

Please make sure all details of your dancers’ costumes are sized and altered accordingly for a proper fit. Every dancer, regardless of body type should feel good and confident in their costumes. This means all your pant and arm lengths should match for each child, no skirts are too big and slipping off at the waist, no tights are bunching, too big or hitting the leg at different points, etc.

Reminder #4:

Accessories for each costume should be the same for each dancer. Please make sure dancers do not hit the stage with one person forgetting an accessory. This looks extremely unprofessional. Each dancer should be responsible for any hats, gloves, earrings, belts, etc., that go with each costume and know which accessory goes with each costume for each number.

Reminder #5:

Hair and makeup. PLEASE make sure everyone has the same NEAT, COMBED, SPRAYED, etc., hairstyle for each piece. Hairspray and gel should be their best friend on recital day. If a number calls for a bun, then ALL dancers need to be specific as to whether it is a low or high bun, with a part or without a part, which side the part is on, etc. Hair should NEVER have FLYAWAYS!! Please make sure your dancers practice (prior to recital) how to neatly keep hair out of their face, use hairnets, hair-colored, pins, etc, which are not visible or falling out during their number. Regarding makeup, please make sure everyone understands they are to wear show makeup. Age differences will call for less and age appropriate colors but your older dancers should know what the professional “look” is for show day. Bright red lips are always a staple for older dancers and read best out to audience. If they are wearing false-lashes make sure everyone understands how to correctly apply them to ensure security on the lid throughout the performance!

Have a great performance season!

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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