By Jessica Rizzo, faculty member & contributing writer for

It seems nowadays especially, so many things get generalized, glossed over, breezed by and given half-hearted attention to. We glimpse, we glance, we mark, we coast and this effect trickles down to others. What happened to attention to detail? What happened to specificity? Clarity? Intricacy? Painstaking accuracy? These values are slipping away faster than we realize and what was maybe just an oversight is now becoming trend.

I’m noticing this not just in everyday life in terms of preparation, organization, how people relate to one another and speak to another, how they work with each other and present their own work, but even with my own dancers in regards to their technique as well. There used to be a time when something as fundamental as how we point our feet had artistry to it. If trained well, the development of something as simple as the stretch of the foot from the top of the calf, through the ankle, the top of the foot and then the toes had a beauty to it. It had its own nuances. Now, it seems like some dancers initiate that movement as they do everything else in this fast paced world, just getting to the end result.

It is imperative for us as teachers to sit up and take notice. Specificity of movement is part of the training we are providing them. It is our job to make sure they understand detail and clarity and why things move as they do, not just how. It starts with us. It is essential for them to understand that preparation, landings and transition are just as, if not more important than the leap in the air, or the actual fouette or trick. A metaphor for life, it’s not the beginning or the end but the middle where everything really happens within a journey. Students need to be taught this mind-set from a young age; taking pride in how they articulate their movement, how they slide down the barre during a stretch or roll up or roll down from a releve. We need to be cultivating a generation of “thinking dancers” who can talk about and verbally articulate how something is done properly as well as executing it. Dancers need to understand their bodies really are an instrument and it’s up to them whether they make beautiful music or are just hitting random notes.

So next time while they’re in class and it may seem boring or tedious for them to take an hour breaking down a correct pirouette preparation or spending twenty minutes on the execution of a complete and thorough tendu, don’t feel rushed or eager to give into the need for their instant gratification. You do know best and this is in their best interest. Pace yourself and them and hold firm that time and process are the making of a professional and detail-oriented individual who takes pride in their work; whether it be in dance or any other field. Those that have awareness of specificity and accuracy demonstrated to them as an important asset are the ones that will have it eventually engrained in them instinctually for a lifetime. So, be specific in your delivery, be specific in your demonstrations, be specific in your explanations and be specific in your process…..your students will be the ones to benefit!

See you in the studio…


* For further info on Jessica Rizzo or to contact her, go to the “teacher profile” section or click here