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Dancers want a taste of the Big Apple

Students from a Northdale dance studio prepare to find out "what it's all about'' in a trip to New York City.

By LOGAN D. MABE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002

NORTHDALE -- The theater was buzzing with activity Thursday morning as about 400 dance students and "dancing moms" prepared to rehearse the year-end recital for Jackie's Dance Studio, a longtime Northdale institution. Little girls in ballerina outfits flitted through the halls backstage as anxious parents filled the auditorium at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

But a select few of the dancers, members of Jackie Loto's competition team, had another reason to be giddy. In a few weeks, about 30 of them will travel to New York City to attend dance classes at elite dance studios, see Broadway shows and get a taste of life in front of the footlights.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids to go and study with multiple teachers in New York," said Jackie's son, Chris Loto, who runs the business side of the studio. "Most of the kids have an underlying desire to pursue a career in dance, and this will show them what it's all about."

Sheila Jones' daughter Brittany Bazemore is going on the trip, and Jones will accompany her as a chaperone for the group. "Oh, she's more than excited," Jones said. "At first she started having a fear of flying, saying she didn't want to go. But she's beyond that now. She's definitely excited."

This is the first such venture for Jackie's students, and one that she hopes will leave an impression on the kids.

"We'll go to Luigi's (dance studio), who got me into this business," Jackie Loto said. "And they'll get to see some Broadway shows. Some of these kids have never been out of Florida, so it's going to be a big experience for them."

For the past few weeks, students and their parents have been hard at work not only on their routines, but raising money for the trip.

"We had a plant sale, we're having a car wash, raffles and some people are selling candy," said "dancing mom" Roxana Sanchez-Horn. "We've been working really hard."

Christ Loto said the studio's travel agent got a good deal for the students; about $560 each, which includes airfare and hotel.

In addition to the fundraising events, the studio is looking for sponsors for the weeklong trip, which begins July 6 and is estimated to cost about $30,000 in all. Interested businesses or individuals can call Jackie's studios at (813) 969-1800 or (813) 877-1021.

-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304 or at

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