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Dance Studio Set to Move After Rent Hike in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

By Rachel Holliday Smith | April 7, 2017 2:28pm | Updated on April 9, 2017 9:04pm
 Karisma Jay, right, leads a dance class at her studio in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
Karisma Jay, right, leads a dance class at her studio in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
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Courtesy of AbunDance Academy of the Arts

PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS — Every week at AbunDance Academy of the Arts on Rogers Avenue, nearly 100 students come to learn how to move.

At ballet, tap, African, lyrical, hip-hop, jazz, modern and Zumba classes, dancers of all ages — from elementary school to 83 years old, said founder Karisma Jay — crowd into the small Prospect-Lefferts Gardens studio to practice.

But the nonprofit will soon leave its home of three years, Jay said, due to a rent increase that would have more than doubled the cost of the corner space at 430 Rogers Ave. from about $20 a square foot to $50, according to a representative of the landlord.

To Jay and her students, it’s a lesson in “resilience,” she said.

“We are big sticklers on what happens if the music stops, what happens if the lights go off, what happens if your tutu falls off. What do you do? The show must go on. Period. There’s no option,” she said.

AbunDance is nearing a deal on a new space farther south on Rogers Avenue and is hoping to move by mid-April. But Jay’s group, which includes about a dozen dance teachers, is looking for help. The new space needs to be renovated and “childproofed,” she said, and AbunDance will need help moving, when the time comes.

To get everything done, Jay is fundraising up to $50,000 on GoFundMe — a figure that is “ideally speaking, what we would need,” she said, but could be offset by the right kind of volunteers.

“If that number comes down because there’s someone, a licensed contractor, who could donate their services. Yeah, please!” she said.

Already, lots of people in the studio’s community have offered to help get the business back up on their feet, but resources are limited. Students at the studio pay on a sliding scale, Jay said, and some have scholarships, so she is reaching out to the wider neighborhood for assistance.

“If we can access 50,000 people and get them to donate a dollar, that’s all. Or spread the word. Or lend a hand or lend a smile or share it on Facebook, all that helps,” she said.

While the move and renovations happen, the studio will use practice space in nearby businesses that have donated low-cost space temporarily, Jay said.

The staff is hoping to get everything up and running before June, when they have their annual concert and recital at the Kings Theatre in Flatbush.

“The students have been putting in their hours of work,” she said. “It’s just a matter of having rehearsal space and doing what we’ve been doing. Because what we’ve been doing has been working.”