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In a time when the climate of the world is anything less than calm, each one of us battles uneasiness, uncertainty, sadness and frustration. We always, however want to ensure our students that their studio still is a place they can always come for safety, love and emotional release (whether that be physically or virtually.)

While we ourselves don't always have the answers to give our dancers as to why circumstances and situations are the way they are, the one thing we can always provide them with is the reminder that dance heals. It is hope. It is an art form where mind, body and soul unite to calm the spirit and clear the mind.

By still coming to class or rehearsals, dance provides an outlet where one's thoughts and feelings, fears and hopes can be parlayed into a living, breathing vehicle which speaks volumes. There is no right or wrong opinion or feeling. It unites through collaboration, friendship, respect, acceptance, tolerance, patience and hard work. It honors commitment and dedication and it unknowingly can create a dialogue amongst human beings which might otherwise be difficult with words. Dance is our time to still learn about one another, to build relationships and to find common ground in the experiences we are enduring. It is also a space to recognize that our feelings and fears are valid.

Dance is not only the physical release one needs to make sense of things sometimes but it is a channel for a student to put all their emotions into. To reflect. To create. To change. To evolve. To move without thinking. To just be. And don't we all need to, “just be,” right now? While we may not always understand the thoughts and feelings going on inside us or others, dance is patient and allows us all our process. It waits for us to get to the point of understanding and making sense of all that doesn't.

We are lucky that we have dance in our arsenal of outlets. We are provided with an infinite number of avenues through dance in which to emote, communicate, analyze, introspect, apply, envision and change circumstance. It is a unifier. It is a voice which cannot be stifled. It can reach the masses and spread hope, love and peace and send a very clear message as to what we can all achieve together if we choose to. It is beauty in motion but it's strong. It's more powerful than hatred or any negative thought, its voice is loud but its grace is always present. It teaches us messages consistently, some we may not have learned otherwise. It helps us to acknowledge things we may not always want or choose or can change and it challenges us to be better. Not only from a physical standpoint but as a whole being.

So, as a dance teacher or a studio owner, take solace in knowing you spread positivity and love everyday with dance, especially now. You become the vessel for communicating it to your students and allowing them the opportunity to embody it for themselves. Remind them that dance is the tie that binds. When uncertainty arises in the ways of the world from the smallest concern to the greatest, dance will never steer them wrong. Time will pass and it will remain the healing agent which can reshape our future going forward. Embrace it and thank God we have been given this gift to live in and share.

Be well everyone. Breathe deeply.

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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