Longtime business owner honored in Malverne

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On March 3, Sara DeGennaro, owner of Tap to Pointe Dance Center on Church Street in Malverne, was recognized by Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito as part of the Town’s spotlight on women-owned businesses. This honor recognizes her contribution to the community as a teacher and small business owner and the economic impact she makes while doing what she loves.

D’Esposito and Malverne Mayor Patti Ann McDonald were impressed with DeGennaro’s reputation and public performances, both of which contributed to this honor.

“I am proud to recognize women business owners for their significant contributions to local commerce – the lifeblood of our communities here in the Town of Hempstead,” D’Esposito said. “These women demonstrate leadership coupled with a passion for their business as well as good old-fashioned hard work, and they deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments.”

Dance is DeGennaro’s long time passion and lead to the development of her business. At 8 years old, she was accepted into the School of American Ballet, affiliated with the New York City Ballet where she would also begin her professional career. She performed in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Coppelia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and many more. She also performed in the Balanchine Festival and galas honoring both Jerome Robbins and Lincoln Kirstein at Lincoln Center. DeGennaro was also awarded the Danish American Nationals Cultural Exchange scholarship in 1994, which gave her the opportunity to train with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1996, she decided to open Tap to Pointe Dance Center in Malverne where she focused her attention full time. She chose Malverne because of its close-knit community and the contribution she could make to the arts through a dance school. In 2011, she relocated from 30 Church Street to her current location of 75 Church Street, revitalizing a building and surrounding property that was vacant for six years into a thriving small business community.

Over the years, she has trained hundreds of dancers — two of whom now dance professionally. Ian Bethany has been a Company Dancer at Ballet Austin for nine years and Kristin Smith has been a Rockette for five years and performed at Radio City Music Hall for the past three years.

DeGennaro received the honor at her dance studio as she worked with her students in the Pointe variation class to prepare for this year’s recital, her 22nd. Many of the students in this class have danced with DeGennaro for over 14 years, and many have given her praise and valued the chance to share in her recognition. Mary Hughes recognized the guidance she has received while she was a student at Tap to Pointe.

“Miss Sara is such an important role model in not only my life but in the lives of all her rising stars,” Hughes said. “She has taught us to be graceful, independent and hard-working women. I am grateful for everything she has done for me.”

Caitlin McDaniels, who also took part in DeGennaro’s class, echoed these sentiments as she stated, “Dancing at Tap to Pointe means everything to me. It has made me who I am today. Preparing for my last recital makes me realize I have learned many valuable lessons that will remain with me throughout my life.”

Another dancer, Kirstin Goodlad, expressed how the dance studio is like a home to her. “The expression ‘home is where the heart is’ describes the studio,” Goodlad said. “Through my time at Tap to Pointe and under the leadership of Miss Sara my love for the art of dance has grown immensely and as a senior it is hard to face the realization that my time here is coming to a quick end. Dance allows me to express every emotion and every feeling in ways words cannot and I thank Miss Sara for guiding me through my journey as a dancer and as a person.”

Her ability to inspire was also noted by dancer Alexandra Bianco. “Miss Sara is one of the most dedicated, hardworking people I know,” Bianco said. “She is truly an inspiration to us all. She makes me strive to be my best and I thank her for that.”

Another student of DeGennaro’s class, Emma Wischerth, is also inspired by her. “She has shown me how to point my toes, keep my chin up and smile big,” Wischerth said. “These dance standards have translated to my everyday life, so I always strive to do my best in everything I do. I keep my head held high when I fail, and most importantly, never forget to enjoy life with a big smile and to not be afraid to display it for all to see. It is almost impossible to think of an occasion when I came home from dance not wanting to go back for more.”

As important a day this was for DeGennaro, it also had a special meaning for her dancers. Lauren Sommers said she would remember this moment for years to come.

“While watching Miss Sara receive her award, I felt a great sense of pride and admiration for her,” Sommers said. “It was a well-deserved accomplishment.”

DeGennaro looks forward to continuing her work in helping to develop young men and women by pushing them, both physically and mentally each week.

–Submitted by Karen Goodlad