TAMPA — You’re never too young to dance.
Mary Jo Scanio has been dancing her entire life. She owns and runs Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy, teaching kids as soon as they can walk to enjoy the arts, especially dance. She can teach kids starting at the age of 2.
Her school, 15906 Mapledale Drive in Carrollwood, is lined with dozens of trophies.
Dance is a labor of love for Scanio. She also teaches acrobatics, acting and singing.
“We have more of a school than anything,” Scanio said. “We do a little bit of everything here. But the kids seem to love it and it’s great to teach them.”
Scanio attended the University of South Florida and was involved in dance and theater while in school. She decided it was time to open her own studio and hasn’t looked back.
“We aren’t just about dancing,” Scanio said. “We’d like to do even more but there’s only so much we can do. When school lets out, this place is unbelievably busy.”
Mary Jo’s opens at 10 a.m. for kids ages 2 to 5 and classes start at 3:30 p.m. There are seven dance rooms at the studio and two more for music, and the classes are always full.
Scanio has had plenty of success with her students. She has sent some of them to Broadway and has several in the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes dance group.
During the summer, the facility keeps busy with summer camps. There are teen summer acting camps on Thursdays throughout June and July, and plenty of other camps, including the Shining Stars performing arts camp for kids 6 to 12; The Best of Broadway sessions for kids 6 and up; and workshops for kids interested in ballet, dance, acting and performing.
“I have performed in competitions,” Scanio said. “I love to perform and I love to teach.
“We go with our slogan, ‘Discover the Difference.’ That’s what we are all about.”
To contact Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy, call (813) 969-0240.