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3 Small Space Exercises For Maximizing & Maintaining Strength & Flexibility


Teacher article


Dance Teachers

No matter the space one is currently in, there is always a way to maintain conditioning. We may not be able to execute a million pirouettes and have to curtail leaps and elevation for safety reasons because of space and surface confines, but developing strength and flexibility in all parts of the body is attainable. Below are three of my favorite go-to exercises that multi-task and multi-target different areas, so you are getting the most bang for your buck. As always, aim to hold stretches for a minimum of thirty seconds and build repetition as your master each exercise.

Good luck!

See you in the dance studio, soon!



Sit with legs extended in front of you. Arms in second. Open the right leg into a wide second, then close with the left as you travel around in a circle like a clock. Hold the stretch when you hit the open second position. When you rotate back to the beginning position, facing front, change arms to high fifth and reverse by going left and repeating the exercise, opening the left leg and closing with the right all the way around. Make sure you are pulled up, engaging the core and back muscles and opening the legs in a wide enough second position that you are safely getting a stretch as you travel slowly in each direction. Be sure to add a pause between each closing of the positions.

Lay on your back in a bridge position. Hips high in the air. Developpé the right leg in the air. Slowly flex, plié the leg three times. On the last extension, begin three slow battements. After the last battement, hold the leg (behind the ankle, calf or hamstring) into a long extended stretch. Progression: flex foot and add ten pulses after battements or maintain in isometric hold for two counts of eight. Modification: Lower hips to ground, laying on back and remove bridge pose.

Start in a table top position on floor. Repeat four, slow, “cat-cow” stretches incorporating deep inhale/exhales. Bump the hips slowly right and left. Start to make small circles with the hips clockwise, then counter clockwise; circles getting progressively bigger. Alternate by shifting weight forward and back as well. Slow down and find your way back to stillness in table top. Slowly lift the knees off the floor a couple of inches and hover. Hold the isometric stretch for three long inhale/exhales, engaging and lifting the core and ensuring wrists are aligned under shoulders. Gently bring the knees to the ground. Start by repeating three times. End with big toes turning in to face each other and stretch back into a turned out child pose position. 

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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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