The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School Inc
SARASOTA FL 34232-1352

Our mission is to foster global understanding through training a diverse student body of beginning through pre-professional dancers, recruited internationally and locally, in the Cuban ballet style; to provide scholarship assistance for talented students in financial need; to offer diversity in cultural performances in our community; and to bring educational programs and performances to schools, residences for seniors and civic organizations.

CEO/Executive Director Mr. Ariel Serrano
Board Chair Leonard S. Kesten
Board Chair Affiliation Retired
General Info
Former Names
Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, LLC
DanzAmerica Inc.
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 2014
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Feb 2018
State Registration Yes Feb 2017
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $450,000.00
Projected Expenses $432,000.00
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Letter of DeterminationView
Impact Statement


  1. Developing a relationship with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The foundation has helped us financially with grants and has been very helpful with advice.
  2. Applying for and winning our second Tourism Development grant from Sarasota County. The amount of our second grant is nearly five times larger than our first grant. 
  3. Establishing an outreach program with Title I schools in Sarasota County. Welcoming internationally prominent ballet teachers to our school for our Summer Intensive program, the director and a master teacher from  The Fernando Alonso Cuban National Ballet School as well as students from 10 countries, many U.S. states and the local area.
  4. Sarasota Cuban Ballet School President and Co- Artistic Director Ariel Serrano participated in an important effort to expand interest in and understanding of Cuban ballet training. He helped to organize the annual conference for Corp to Ballet, Inc., an international organization of faculty members of college dance programs, which focused this year on Cuban ballet history, training and style.


Raising more funds for scholarships for talented pre-professionals who cannot afford the training they need to become professional dance artists.  

  1. Expanding our Community Outreach program to include Title I students funded by scholarships. The after school program will include dance lessons, a study period and snack time. 
  2. Growing our administrative staff 
  3. Hiring additional teachers who know the Cuban style
  4. Obtaining additional board members

Needs Statement
   1.  Funding for Scholarships: $4,500 yearly tuition for training program for a pre-professional student; $2,000 tuition 6-week Summer Intensive program; $3,000 room and board for Summer Intensive program 
  1. Room and Board for out-of-town scholarship students in pre-professional program: monthly rent, approximately $600; meals, approximately $500
  2. A 12-person van to transport boarding students from their residences to our studio and to school and community performances: lease cost, approximately $500 per month; purchase price for used van, approximately $20, 000; in-kind donation of a used van in good condition
  3. Donations to be used to buy media (newspapers, print and digital; radio; tv) for performances such as ON STAGE and Nutcracker and programs such as After School programs. Newspaper print advertising, $5500 for four papers for each performance; digital advertising $1500 for each performance. $3,000 for After School program; advertising on Sarasota County School System’s online vendor site
  4. Dancewear for scholarship students, including pointe shoes ($100  per pair, (approximately 4 pairs per student per month needed; dance slippers, $40 per pair); leotard and tights ($60 per set)
Background Statement

The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Inc. is the fulfillment of the American Dream for its founders, former Cuban dancers Ariel Serrano and Wilmian Hernandez. Landing in Miami in 1993, they had little but the clothes on their backs and the determination to build a new life in America. Their talent led to an invitation to join the Sarasota Ballet where they danced principal roles. After finishing their dance careers, they succeeded in business endeavors but dreamed of opening a ballet school where they could train students in the Cuban style. In 2012, with their savings invested and sweat equity earned, they launched The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School.  Starting with three students, the school grew as word spread of its excellent teaching. A major boost came in 2013 when, based on the prize-winning performances of its students, the school won “Best School” at the regional Young America Grand Prix ballet competition in Atlanta. The school now has ballet on progressive levels of advancement for children from ages 3-4 (Creative Movement); ages 5-6 (Creative Movement II and Pre-ballet); ages 6-10 (Ballet Levels I and II); and ages 10 and up (Ballet Levels III and IV). Introduction to the Cuban Method classes are for beginners in middle-and-high school and there are ballet and dance conditioning classes for adults. The school’s rigorous Pre-Professional program for talented students aiming for dance careers is the most advanced course. It draws international, national and local students, ages 12 to 18. They train for six hours per day and pursue academics.  Out-of- town students live in school- -approved housing.  Most also attend the school’s six-week Summer Intensive program.

Regardless of their training level, all students receive instruction from experienced, caring teachers who treat them with kindness and respect. Students receive individual attention and are trained in dance conditioning to avoid injury.  The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Inc.’s  non-profit status enables to seek community and foundation support for scholarships for pre-professional students who cannot complete their training without financial aid; a community outreach program geared to exposing culturally underserved communities with Title I  schools to ballet, a student/faculty exchange program with the National Ballet School of Cuban, and performances that  that expand the diversity of cultural offerings in Sarasota.


Areas Served
Areas Served
Areas Served Comments Our students come from many different countries, US states and the local area. Among these countries are Japan, Canada, England, Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Examples of the U.S. states are New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina,  Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona and California. In addition to our local students, we serve students from throughout Florida.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Arts,Culture & Humanities
Secondary Org Type Youth Development
Tertiary Org Type
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

I chose to support the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Inc. because I believe in its mission and was confident that the founders would demonstrate through hard work and talent their devotion to the well-being of their students and their desire to help students meet their potential. These founders, Ariel Serrano and Wilmian Hernandez, who defected from Cuba, are  productive members of the community and I believe they deserve the community's support. As a retired businessman, I have volunteered for many large non-profits over the years. Working with a small, new organization, in which I have developed a personal relationship with the founders, has been a very different but very special experience. Everyone involved with the school is working overtime to help us succeed and I am sure we will achieve our goals. I am pleased with the relationships we have established with other non-profit organizations here and how they have welcomed us into the non-profit community. A great example of this is the West Coast Black Theatre. I met with Nate Jacobs, artistic director, and Julie Leach, executive director, to tell them about The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School. I mentioned to them that when Ariel was in Baltimore to speak and demonstrate Cuban training at a professional dance organization’s annual meeting, he had in his class an African American teenager of incredible talent and potential. He invited him to come to our school to train and gave him a scholarship. However, the young man needed a place to live. Nate Jacobs immediately offered to help and quickly found a benefactor who sponsored a room and a food stipend. The young man is now thriving in his dance training. We have noticed this kind of generosity throughout Sarasota’s non-profit community.

Statement from the CEO/Executive Director


The school’s rigorous Pre-Professional program for talented students aiming for dance careers is the most advanced course. It draws international, national and local students, ages 12 to 18. They train for six hours per day and pursue academics.  Out-of- town students live in school-approved housing.  Most also attend the school’s six-week Summer Intensive program. Our pre-professional program is growing by word of mouth as our students win ballet competitions, enter ballet companies and our school receives more media exposure.

Budget $90,000
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Dance Instruction
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) US& International Minorities
Short Term Success Studying ballet is a healthy form of exercise that builds confidence and poise. Students who succeed at whatever level feel pride in their accomplishments.
Long Term Success Many of our students reach their career goal of becoming professional dancers. Others decide to attend college dance programs and become teachers or arts administrators. 
Program Success Monitoring This program is working because our students are succeeding.
Program Success Examples Students who become professional dancers achieve their goals and are able to support themselves. Over the past four years since the school's founding we have trained students to have joined London's Royal Ballet, Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Northwest Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem and the Alvin Alley Ballet Company. These achievements reflect well on Sarasota as a center of dance and culture, which is a draw for tourists and helps our economy.
Program Comments by Organization   The school’s rigorous Pre-Professional program for talented students aiming for dance careers is the most advanced course. It draws international, national and local students, ages 12 to 18. They train for six hours per day and pursue academics.  Out-of- town students live in school-approved housing.  Most also attend the school’s six-week Summer Intensive program. Our pre-professional program is growing by word of mouth as our students win ballet competitions, enter ballet companies and our school receives more media exposure. We need community support for this program because many of the best students cannot afford the training and we find it difficult to turn down promising students even if they cannot afford the fees.
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Ariel Serrano
CEO Term Start Jan 2012
CEO/Executive Director Email
Experience Ariel Serrano was born in Oriente, Cuba. He began his training at the National School of Arts and then trained in Italy. He returned to Cuba in 1991 and brought his evident talent to Ballet Camaguey, under the direction of Fernando Alonso, where he interpreted principal roles from the classical repertoire: Paquita, La Fille Mal Gardee, Swan Lake, The Flower Festival, Guillermo Tell, Giselle, Coppelia, and Don Quixote. In 1992, he joined the Youth Ballet of the National Ballet of Cuba under Laura Alonso, and under the artistic direction of Alicia Alonso, he delighted audiences with his renditions of the pas de deux in works such as Diana and Acteon, Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty, and Majismo as well as many contemporary works by Cuban choreographers. 1993 brought Serrano and his wife Wilmian Hernandez to Monterrey, Mexico, to perform with Ann Marie D‘Angelo and her dance company. There he dazzled audiences in principal roles - in the full version of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Nuestros Valses of Vicente Nebrada, as well as contemporary choreography of Ann Marie D’Angelo. In 1995, Artistic Director Robert de Warren recognized Serrano‘s amazing energy and talent by inviting him to perform as principal with the Sarasota Ballet of Florida. His vibrant adaptations of principal roles in full performances of ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Carmen and a Midsummer Night’s Dream, have brought him great acclaim from Florida audiences. Serrano has worked with many great names of the dance world such as Melissa Hayden, Cynthia Gregory, Fernando Bujones, and Laura Alonso. He has toured Europe, America and Asia and one of the highest honors in Serrano’s young career was the chance to participate in the ballet competition in Helsinki, Finland, where he finished with top honors. In 2012, Ariel, with his wife, Wilmian Hernandez, founded the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School.
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % 100
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 9
Volunteers 20
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
We have not yet collaborated in programming with other organizations but we are making a concerted effort to build relationships with other non-profit and civic organizations. 
Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County2015
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Outstanding Teacher, Ariel Serrano; Grand Prix Award, Harold Mendez, studentYouth America Grand Prix, Denver regional competition2016
Students Michael Mengden and Sophie Miklosovic, gold medals in two senior categoriesYouth America Grand Prix, Indianapolis Regional Competition2016
2 students in top seven, Senior Classical DivisionUniversal Ballet Competition, Miramar Florida2016
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Yes
Communication Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Yes
Strategic Plan Years 1
Strategic Plan Adopted Jan 2016
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Policies and Procedures No
Management Comments by Organization  Our management challenge is that we greatly need capacity building in the areas administrative and clerical staff. The CEO, COO, and executive director are in need of a top notch executive assistant who is efficient and organized. Clerical staff is needed to help with data entry. A volunteer coordinator would be helpful in recruiting volunteers and assigning and supervising their duties. To aid the growth of the school we needed additional faculty. to assign responsibilities to those who would like to help. At the top management level the school’s co-founders serve as co-Artistic Directors, making joint decisions about artistic presentations such as casting performances and determining content, music and costumes. Co-founder Ariel Serrano is CEO and runs the school programs, making decisions such as hiring staff, making student placement decisions, choosing performance venues, negotiating some contracts and creating new programs.. Co-founder Wilmian Hernandez is COO and runs the administrative side of the school with the help of Office Administrator Magaly Hernandez. Carol Hirschburg is responsible for fund-raising, which she works on with Board Chairman Leonard Kesten; public relations and marketing, development of printed materials and grant research and writing. In lieu of hiring more full or part-time staff we need to make better use of our volunteers and to consider the viability hiring qualified consultants to assist with various responsibilities.
Multi-Media Comments by Organization

In addition to You-Tube videos we place many videos and photos on our Facebook page. Many of our students also post them on their Facebook students and send them on Instagram and similar sites.


Board Chair
Board Chair Leonard S. Kesten
Company Affiliation Retired
Board Term Jan 2015 to Dec 2017
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Mr. Leonard S. Kesten Retired
Mr. Eric F. Long Community Volunteer
Mr. Ariel Serrano The Sarasota Cuban Ballet, Inc.
Mr. Rolando Yanes Milwaukee Ballet
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 2
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 4
Female 0
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 2
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 95
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 50
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 50
Standing Committees
Board Development / Board Orientation
Board Governance
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Governance Comments by Organization

The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Inc.’s biggest governance challenge now is to build our Board of Directors. We added and exceptionally experienced new member this year, Edward Town, who is enthusiastic and involved.  We hope to build a Board of seven members and are in the process of assessing several prospects now.  

Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2016
Fiscal Year Ends 2016
Projected Revenue $450,000.00
Projected Expenses $432,000.00
Organization has Endowment No
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$351,601$377,407$35,754
Administration Expense$119,063$133,611$33,841
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.111.061.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses75%74%51%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%--
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$85,006$43,143$10,851
Current Assets$83,064$41,201$10,851
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$2,665$4,969$5,845
Total Net Assets$82,341$38,174$5,006
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountEducation & Tuition $214,637Education & Tuition $271,895Program Service Revenue $77,978
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $199,482Contributions, gifts, grants $133,3210 $0
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountStudent Lodging & Meals $49,881Program Service Fees $49,7730 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation N/A
Co-CEO/Executive Director Compensation N/A
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities31.178.291.86
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization

Our income increased significantly in 2015. However, as a young organization we are still experiencing growing pains. To recruit new students to our pre-professional program, which trains young artists for careers in dance, we must be able to offer needs-based scholarships because many of the most talented students do not have the means to pay for their training. We also require additional funds for our outreach programs so that we can continue to bring ballet to Title I schools and people of all ages in culturally underserved areas of  Sarasota. We also need scholarships for ballet lessons for children from Title I schools. We have several of these students taking classes now and would like to increase that number.  

We are addressing these challenges by escalating our fund-raising efforts with individuals corporations and foundations and raising our school’s profile in the community. For example, a new board member, Ed Town, recently introduced us to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County We found that we share many areas of interest and have subsequently received grants from the foundation. We have also won Tourism grants from Sarasota County for our annual “On Stage with the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School at the Sarasota Opera House, which allows us to increase our advertising, and thus our ticket sales. We believe that raising our public profile will help us immensely with our fund-raising, and to that end we have been inviting community groups to short performances by our pre-professional dancers at our black-box studio. One of our donors also hosted a wine and cheese reception for us at our school recently, which has resulted in donations from attendees

Financial Comments by Foundation For 2013, financial information was taken from unaudited compilations prepared by an independent auditor, as the organization filed a 990-N.  For 2014 and 2015, financial information was taken from 990-EZ, along with unaudited compilations.  Contributions include foundation and corporate support. For 2016, financial information was taken solely from compilations as the Federal tax return was not available at time of review. Contributions include both business and individual contributions as they are not separately stated in the compilations.
Nonprofit The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School Inc
Address 501 N BENEVA RD
SARASOTA, FL 34232 1352
Phone 941 365-8400