BRANDON — Sara Battaglia has always loved dance.
Growing up in North Port, she recalls her mom working two jobs to help offset studio tuitions that eventually led her to the Sarasota Ballet School, the School of Russian Ballet.
She eventually studied dance at the University of South Florida before a hip injury mid-semester caused her to withdraw from dance.
"I was bored," said Battaglia, 23. "I wanted to dance and give back to the community."
In May of 2017 she held her first dance class for about five children at the Brandon Moose Lodge because the space was free, and she could provide a low-cost dance experience for parents and their kids.
Since bingo and fish fries aren't exactly a kid-friendly environment, Battaglia moved her instruction to the party room in We Rock the Spectrum indoor gym and Dancing for Donations was born.
Now, one month after expanding into its own 1,500 square foot space next door at 1076 E Brandon Blvd., No. 101, Dancing for Donations might need to grow again.
"We weren't thinking of expanding further than this, but we might have to sooner than we thought," said Battaglia, who plans to hold a grand opening on Saturday (Nov. 3). "The amount of kids we have is insane and we keep getting more."
More than 120 dancers age 2 through adult have signed up for approximately two dozen classes covering ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and acro. All classes are inclusive, meaning kids of all abilities and special needs are welcome.
"We don't separate them. We don't believe in separating special needs kids," said Battaglia, noting 30 percent of the studio's dancers have diagnosed special needs ranging from autism to wheelchairs.
As the name indicates, the studio is a non-profit that is partially funded on donations (online, vendor events, business partnerships, etc.).
Along with Amanda Ross, a 19-year-old student Battaglia recruited to help run the studio, Battaglia looks to give back to places like the Humane Society.
Dancers often perform at nursing homes and at local events such as the annual Buddy Walk for Downs Syndrome at Raymond James Stadium. Battaglia said she would like to do more, but needs to convince organizations to buy in to her unique approach.
Tuition at Dancing for Donations is $25 a month and it includes one class a week. Battaglia and Ross say that is approximately half or one third of what most dance studios charge.
If you need dance shoes, there's a box full for free use. Find your size, enjoy and donate them back when you outgrow them. And when it comes time for the recital, the fee is $35 – that includes the month's instruction and a "rental"" of the costumes.
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"Our primary focus is to offer dance classes reduced in price," Battaglia said. "I think that's why we're growing a lot faster than we expected to grow."
For more information call (813) 601-3009, visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/dancingfordonations.
Vascular service office opens in FishHawk
Vital Line PICC and Vascular Services, Inc. recently opened a mobile catheter and IV service company in the FishHawk area. The team of experienced nurses is led by owners Deborah and Adeyinka Awolowo and they specialize in peripherally inserted central catheters and intravenous lines.
Their main office is located at 5668 Fishhawk Crossing Blvd. Suite 172 in Lithia but they schedule around the clock procedures at places such as nursing homes and private homes by calling (813) 333-0666. Visit vitalpicc.com.
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