Seen & Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit
A well-regarded jazz and musical theater instructor, Bob Rizzo teaches master classes across the U.S. and in Europe.
Dance Teacher: What is your classroom philosophy?
Bob Rizzo: I try to stay aware of the needs of the class in general, always keeping in mind what it’s like to be a student. I want to help all my dancers meet their fullest potentials, so I try to offer a caring environment that’s also structured and disciplined. Getting a strong technical foundation is so important for the dancers, so they can freely express themselves without having to think about it—the movement needs to become innate.
DT: Is there one thing teachers are always asking to learn from you?
BR: They always appreciate a turns-and-jumps class, because that’s their bread and butter. That’s the material they need to bring back in order to see their kids grow technically. And more importantly, they need to be able to take what they learn from me and modify it for their own students. Fortunately, one of my strengths as a teacher is the ability to break down a difficult jump or turn and show the teachers in steps how to teach it to their students.
DT: What should a teacher’s priority be when it comes to furthering his or her education?
BR: I think the biggest thing would be variety. If you go to an event, you want to get a full curriculum, so in addition to technique classes, look for business seminars, maybe some lectures on dealing with parents, things like that. That’s the kind of class diversification I would look for if I were going. —Andrea Marks
Photo by Paul Janusz, courtesy of Bob Rizzo