Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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Dance studio steps in to help local schools fill budget holes

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Vanessa Apostol / Courtesy

Tania Reis and Vartan Zakhariants dance together at the Nevada Star Ball held at the Green Valley Ranch Hotel in August 2013. Zakhariants owns Las Vegas’ VZ Dance Studio and Reis is a teacher there.

When Nessa Apostol first started dancing, it was to escape the monotony that came with being a full-time college student, working two jobs and mending a newly broken heart.

"I just wanted to have fun, get away from my insane 14-hour days and still dance all night," Apostol said.​

It wasn't until she started teaching a salsa class at a public high school that the 26-year-old realized dancing wasn't just a great stress reliever — it could have a positive impact on kids too.

Now, as the manager of Las Vegas' VZ Dance Studios, Apostol strives to provide a safe outlet for at-risk youth through The Ballroom in Schools Afterschool program, a partnership between the dance studio and the Public Education Foundation that aims to overcome a lack of enrichment opportunities facing many of the valley's schools.

On Saturday, the two organizations will host a National Dance Day fundraiser to gather money to support at-risk schools that have lost their art programs due to funding problems.

"The fact that Nevada is at the bottom of the education rankings is baffling," Apostol said. "They cut out arts, extracurriculars, and even gym? No wonder the youth are getting worse and worse."

The fundraiser will feature performances by amateur and professional dancers, as well as an appearance by "Dancing With the Stars" participant Sasha Farber, who will teach a dance class and participate in a meet and greet.

Las Vegas' own Latin Breeze salsa band will also be on hand to provide live music to accompany 15-minute salsa classes that will take place every hour.

The event will be held at the VZ Dance Studios, 7207 W. Sahara Ave., from 5-9 p.m. and will cost $25 to get in. Food and drinks will be provided and all proceeds from the event will go toward supporting The Ballroom in Schools Afterschool program.

The goal is to raise $5,000, but Apostol believes they could could raise much more.

"Dance teaches life skills and, most importantly, sets a higher standard for the children's futures and dreams," Apostol said.

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