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With the summer season upon us, it’s essential to stress the importance of maintaining technique, strength and flexibility during this time to our dancers. So many times dancers make such beautiful progress throughout the year only to come back the following September having to start from scratch because they didn’t remain consistent in their training.

Now, while some won’t take dance classes over the summer, there are many ways you can remind your dancers how essential it is to keep their bodies active and moving over the coming months. Aside from the physical benefits, keeping active mentally and kinesthetically through their dancing will create for a sustained mind-body-spirit connection.

First, as a studio owner, are you offering summer classes? Even if it’s a scaled down schedule, what are you offering your dancers in terms of options? Are you requiring your company dancers to attend classes over even just a 4, 5 or 6 week curriculum? Are you holding summer workshops, masterclasses with guest teachers, week long intensives, choreography-setting rehearsals? Point being, how are you getting them into the studio so that they do not suffer from this 2-3 month lapse in their training? Is it feasible to make this mandatory where you are? These are important things to consider. It’s also a great time to offer your dancers some new and different genres of dance to create interest and give them something they might normally experience throughout the year. Maybe an African or Bollywood class? A Pure Barre fitness class perhaps? Think outside of the box!

Another option is to provide dancers with information on an array of places where they can go outside of the studio to go take professional classes. The summer is a great time for them to head into the city to see what it’s like to take classes with other teachers and dancers on a pre- professional/professional level and challenge themselves with new ways of moving and approaching their technique. It might even be fun to make it a studio summer field trip where you can all go together on designated days during the summer! Anything to help them stay motivated! Think about posting flyers and information about potential summer workshops and intensives that are being offered as well earlier in the year on your studio news board so dancers have a chance to see what is coming up during the summer and if there are auditions or necessary enrollment requirements.

Provide your dancers with a set “summer take-home curriculum.” This “formula” should include a set warm-up, stretches, cross training exercises, choreography projects, etc. that they can do every day. Now, while they may not spend hours on their own doing this, be realistic and keep the exercises easy, short, effective and something they will want to do each day while they are on their own. As long as they are getting some sort of stretching, technique and creativity in, the better off they will be, come the new season!

Here’s wishing you and your dancers a wonderful summer! Be sure to balance that well deserved break for your body and mind over the summer months and be well rested, but keep dancing, keep moving, stay active, keep it fun and let’s make the new season your best season yet! Feel good everybody! :)

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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