By Gwen Rollings
So many things in life happen as a result of some fortuitous event which changes everything.
Sara Battaglia began dancing at 8 years old, learning jazz, tap, lyrical and point, but her passion was ballet. She trained with Sarasota Ballet and School of Russian Ballet and furthered her dance education at the University of South Florida.
Then, a hip injury brought Battaglia to a crossroads…a fortuitous event which led her to become the founder and director of Dancing for Donations (D4D).
Battaglia envisioned D4D as an all-inclusive, nonprofit dance program with a mission to offer dance lessons sustained from community donations.
Battaglia said, “Three years ago, we started very, super small. I never imagined it would grow to the extent that it has since then.”
There are several reasons which might explain the growth. Battaglia did her due diligence as director of D4D. She completed Exceptional Student Education courses, earned her Youth Protection Advocate in Dance® certification, took autism training and created a dance environment which is child-safe with all music, movement and costumes being age-appropriate.
D4D is also a Wingman for Dance Studio. Wingman is described as a one-of-a-kind youth development program designed to help dance studio owners and teachers boost dancers’ confidence, encourage teamwork and leadership and promote an inclusive and supportive environment.
Battaglia reinforced that ‘all inclusive’ means all ages, skill levels and social skills are welcome.
Michelle Ebner said, “My 5-year-old daughter has been attending since August 2017. I wanted to put her in a dance class to help her focus. She loves it… We are so grateful that we learned about this wonderful program.”
All teachers are CPR-certified and background-checked.
Another reason for D4D popularity, according to Battaglia, was that “Dance programs are usually so expensive that many families cannot afford lessons. Although we can no longer rely completely on donations, we are probably half the cost of others as we offer ballet, acro, tap/jazz and dance history/education classes.”
D4D’s mission to be available and affordable extends to Tampa Bay HEAT at the Homeschool Resource Center, homeschool classes and in-person and virtual lessons as well.
It’s Kidz Time in Riverview recently donated a bus that will be used for summer camps, after-school pickups, special events and fundraisers—another fortuitous event.