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How we motivate our faculty and students has a direct correlation with positive energy, high spirit and a genuine belief that we can accomplish the goals we set forth for our studios and students. If we ourselves are inspired and self-motivated, we can then parlay that into something magical. This is when the entire studio family is on the same page, with the same vision; ready to succeed beyond the imaginable.


Studio owners always have a million ideas running through their minds, energy charged and are ready to hit the ground running or pivot in any given situation. You are the driver, the master of ceremonies, the chief, the director, the head coach…. and your team is going to look to you for the cue on where this year will take you all.


There are so many things to reflect upon at any given time. Things that may have been successful and not so successful. All things we can learn and grow from. Experience and hind-sight are two of our greatest inspirations, so make the most of building on all of your accomplishments as well as the failures. Remember, “failure,” is not a dirty word and can come to be one of your own greatest motivators. Take the lessons learned in stride and revamp, renew and re-energize. It’s all about layering and building year to year. Remember, nothing ever worth having comes overnight. This rings true for your students as well. Instant gratification is a flash in the pan. What’s that old saying, “slow and steady, wins the race?” Well, it’s true! Pace yourself and don’t feel the pressure to do things like everyone else.


Your students are unique and so is your business. With every year that goes by, you are another year wiser with more experience under your belt. Your big-picture goals will become clearer and how to accomplish them more tangible. Consequently, this will create a clearer approach to motivating everyone around you. You can’t motivate if you yourself are not motivated, so it all starts with you. This trickle-down effect can be extremely powerful and make your studio a force to be reckoned with. Technically, spiritually, financially and artistically.


Remember, a business is like a work of art or piece of choreography; always a work-in-progress. So, continue to plan, organize, develop, execute, edit, tweak and follow-through on what you know is best for your business to thrive and your dancers to succeed. Furthermore, you made great strides and put great effort into building the team around you to make this vision come alive, so let that staff and faculty do what they’re there to do and remind them of their importance to you! No man is an island and while you are the delegator, let that amazing faculty you’ve painstakingly assembled support your endeavors as well and share in that common goal along the way. Below are some important things to think about. Use them as a catalyst to get your thoughts going on how to be a successful motivator for your individual studio. A studio owner who understands teamwork and a unified vision is the beginning to dreams becoming reality.


How do you plan to kick-start your next season?

How will you motivate returning families and faculty and inspire new clients and new teachers?

What social activities/get-togethers do you have in store?

What is you big picture?

What are the goals your wish to achieve?

What were some of the things that worked really well last year?

What are some things that need to change going forward?

When do you have “team meetings” with faculty and staff?

When do you have meetings with parents and students?

How would you like to see your student progress?

How would you like to see the business aspect of your studio progress?

What new additions would you like to try in the coming months, in terms of classes, performance, etc.?


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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