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Conditioning Exercise Regimine for Your Dancers


Teacher article


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Conditioning programs for dancers should be an essential part of any training program. Along with regular technique classes, “cross training” will help provide increased cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and endurance benefits. It will also increase core strength and muscle tone and will help dancers in all areas of their body awareness.

Below are 5 of my favorite Plyometric (jump training) exercises you can implement at the beginning or end of any class or rehearsal which will get them started in the right direction and can be modified for any level of dancer! Remember, if we are not in peak physical condition, technique and performance is useless without working in a healthy body as a vehicle for all the moving one does!

** Modify each exercise to the needs/levels of your dancers. Try doing two rounds of each exercise.

Warmup: Run or jump around the room: Yes. It’s that simple. Have dancers run around the entire studio in a circle for at least 3-5 minutes. You will shocked at how quickly the blood will start pumping and how quickly your dancers will warm up. Add modifications such as: change directions, stop and do three pushups before continuing, add squat jumps, add high knees, run backwards, etc.

Weighted Squat jumps: Have dancers hold 2-5lb weights at their sides, standing in parallel 2nd position. Have dancers get into a deep squat positon. Dancers sauté and explode off the floor, jumping back into a deep squat, Do this for 30 seconds-one minute.

Weighted Échappés: Have dancers hold 2-5lb weights at their sides starting in turned out first position. Dancers plié and échappé to a deep 2nd position (“sumo squat” position) and back to plie first. Do this for 30 seconds-one minute.

Weighted Jazz Square Squats: Have dancers hold 2-5lb weights at their sides. Start in parallel 2nd position. Plié in deep squat and jump (sauté) right-back-left-front all ending in deep seated squats. 30 seconds starting to the right. 30 seconds starting to the left. Modify by eliminating weights for beginners, changing directions for advanced.

Weighted Chassés: Dancers start in turned-out, plié second position (“sumo squat” position) with one 5-8lb weight in both hands extended down. Chassé to the right, staying in the deep sumo squat while giving one bicep curl with the weight (still in both hands.) Repeat left. Do this for 30 seconds-one minute. Add modifications such as: going faster, dropping weight an adding burpees or squat thrusts with a tuck jump in between sides, etc.

Weighted One-Legged-Sautés: Have dancers hold 2-5lb weights at their sides. Lift the right foot off the floor, jump off the left leg while sending right leg back behind you. 30 seconds on the right leg. 30 seconds on the left.


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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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