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Dance Studio Owners

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees, tonight is Halloween!" ~Dexter Kozen


Happy Halloween Week Everyone!

As this is my absolute favorite time of year, I thought we could all get into the spirit of sharing some fun and festive Halloween ideas to celebrate in your dance studio! Halloween is definitely a holiday with the flair for the dramatic, so this is the perfect occasion for dance studios to create an amazing environment to let imaginations run wild! Here are a few of my thoughts!

Aside from decorating the reception area, changing areas, bathrooms, etc….think about what you remember most about Halloween as a child and what you loved about it. It’s always great to have students feel like the studio is their home-away-from-home, especially during holiday time, so decorate the space with detail, creativity and nostalgic reminders.

For me, Halloween always exudes a feeling of mystery and intrigue…kind of like the air is somewhat a little more magical for that one night, the moons are changing, the leaves rustling, and the howling of the wind all dance in unison to create the perfect backdrop for parties and trick-or-treating. While having in-studio parties are always a crowd-pleaser (especially with little ones,) think about setting up a Halloween station where games can be played during the week for studio prizes… i.e. Bobbing for apples? Reach into the jack-o-lantern for prizes or clues to a studio scavenger hunt perhaps? Match the song to the musical, match the photo to the Halloween movie, etc. How about a student choreography contest for the most innovative Halloween dance to be learned and performed by the whole studio? Think of it as a new Thriller for the new generation!

Costumes are a must and definitely something we dancers know a little bit about! What is your studio policy on wearing a costume to the studio that week? Are you expecting faculty and front desk staff to join in on that as well? Does it include all students or just the younger ones? What is your policy to ensure costumes are age appropriate? Are you having a costume contest for our fashion designers in the making? Or is your costume contest based off the “Best Costume Inspired by a Musical” perhaps? A cool thing to do is to take pictures of the best costumes and hang them up on a board so voting for the winner is more organized. Plus, there is then a designated spot where it’s fun to gather before or after class for students as well as parents!

As we all have that closet in the back of the studio with old costumes that are sitting there collecting dust, now is a great time to head in there and get them organized so kids can borrow them for the holiday! Also, this is a great time to do a costume drive. Here, students can bring in their gently used costumes which can be donated to other studios or organizations with limited resources.  Furthermore, if you’re feeling like the studio can benefit from doing an extra good deed this holiday, think about participating in “Trick or Treat for UNICEF;” which has always been a common program for as long as I can remember and has raised millions of dollars over the years for this children’s fund.  Maybe keep a pumpkin or cauldron on the front desk where students can throw their loose change during the weeks following up to the holiday!

For a little entertainment, offer some of the classics for a special studio viewing party or  sleep-over… “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Casper,” “Hocus Pocus,” “Beetlejuice,” “Young Frankenstein,” “The Addams Family,” are all some of my favorites! And don’t forget the Halloween music playlist to keep the ghoulish spirit going! Why not add a choreography workshop to your party too and have a guest-artist come into teach combinations from, “Young Frankenstein,”  “The Addams Family,” “Wicked,” “Rocky Horror,” etc!?

Finally, don’t forget to document all your studio festivities with photos and keep scrapbooks and framed photos around the studio to share the dance family spirit!

So many Halloween things to do, so little time, but I’m sure your studio will be an amazing haunted house of all things spooky, enchanting and mystical this Hallow’s eve! Would love to see your photos too! So feel free to post and share your Halloween festivities!

Have a Happy & Safe Halloween from ALL OF us at Dance Teacher Web! BOO!


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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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