The Sarasota Ballet's educational outreach program Dance - The Next Generation opened one new dance studio, an expanded rehearsal space and an all new computer lab.
Studying the art of ballet and dance isn't exclusive to students who want to become professional dancers. For the faculty, volunteers and students at Dance-The Next Generation (DNG), the Sarasota Ballet's after school educational outreach program, ballet is meant to affect and inspire everyone.
And yesterday afternoon, the Sarasota Ballet and DNG cut the ribbon and opened its expanded studio space facilities. Located on 500 Tallevast Road, what was once an empty warehouse is now a renovated and expanded dance studio for area students. The approximately 198 students who call DNG their after school home now have one new dance studio, and expanded studio, and a brand new computer lab to call their very own. The expanded facility now includes in total three dance studios, three classrooms for one-on-one tutoring, office space for volunteers, a computer lab with 10 computers, and a kitchen.
"There are programs similar to this at other ballet's in the country, but nothing on this level that we're doing with DNG," says Iain Webb, director of the Sarasota Ballet. "We use ballet and dance to give these kids an outlet and the discipline of dance. The cost of this program is enormous, but we'd never think twice about stopping. We'll never stop giving back to the community."
The expanded and improved facility was built during the summer and opened to students at the beginning of this school year. The repairs were made possible by private donors that raised the money over the last year to meet the community's demand for the program. Last school year the program could only support 153 students and 40 students were put onto a waiting list. For Webb and DNG program director Lisa Townsend, the idea of continuing to deny children access to dance was inconceivable. And when the students arrived on the first day of the program, they were ecstatic.
"On the first day of DNG this year, the children walked in and were overwhelmed with emotions with their beautiful, bright, new space,” says Townsend. “It is so heartwarming to see the expressions on the children’s faces and to know this beautiful bright space will help these children realize their dreams.”