SARASOTA, Fla. - As Puerto Rico rebuilds from Hurricane Maria many lives and dreams have been disrupted or put on hold.
A Sarasota Ballet school is trying to keep the dreams of 6 young Puerto Rican dancers alive but they need your help.
“My love for ballet is everything. I want to be a professional ballerina,” says Victoria Santiago. The 15-year-old’s sacrifice for her dream is big. She says, “My family, I left behind, helping my neighbors, my people.”
Less than two weeks ago, Victoria left hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico after surviving the storm.
“Doors exploded….(cries)…water comes in from the doors really frustrating,” she recalls.
When the storm ended and Victoria looked outside. She says, “I saw another Puerto Rico.”
Victoria thought her dreams had ended too. In steps the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School a non-profit dance school and its co-founder Ariel Serrano.
Ariel says, “These kids are not our neighbors, they’re our own kids, American kids in need right now.”
Victoria is one of seven Puerto Rican ballet dancers who’ve done summer internships at the school.
Ariel says, “They’re calling me, they’re sending me texts, sending me messages, can you help us.”
The male dancers say their dance studio is flooded and windows were broken. One dancer text Ariel saying the “violence in Puerto Rico has increased drastically!”
He adds there are frequent assaults and robberies for basic necessities. The school is trying to get the remaining seven dancers to Sarasota for a year.
Each day the dancers don’t train is a huge loss, says Ariel. He says, “Their future, our kids’ future is on the line here. We hope the community sees the need to help these kids, help us help these kids.”
Victoria says, “I’m pretty grateful to them for helping them and helping me.”
The school has scholarships to cover the students' extensive training...that's 5 hours a day 6 days a week!
The year-long housing and food for all six students cost 36-thousand dollars plus a 500 dollar a month stipend each.
If you are interested in donating, click here.
You can also send a check to:
The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School
501 North Beneva Road, Suite 700
Sarasota, FL 34232
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