As attendance dwindled at Hip Expressions belly dance studio in St. Petersburg during the pandemic, owner Johanna Krynytzky tried everything to stay afloat.
She started offering virtual classes. But it wasn’t enough to pay her monthly rent at 2033 54th Ave N., a space she had occupied for nearly a decade. Krynytzky was ready to tell her owner, April Hill, that the dance studio had to go. But then she got a better offer.
“I plan to sell the building,” Hill told Krynytzky. “Why don’t you pay what you can until it sells.”
Hip Expressions ended up staying open longer than Krynytzky expected. Some months she was only able to afford half of the monthly rental fee. In late July, Hill accepted an offer on the property, and Krynytzky planned to close Hip Expressions by the end of August.
“We are grateful to have been there and for his generosity,” Krynytzky said.
The property is one block from an off ramp on Interstate 275 and has been listed as office space. Records show the sale is in progress.
Krynytzky and Karen Sun Ray founded Hip Expressions in 2004. The belly dance studio has grown from five to 20 teachers and added 12 other dance traditions such as Polynesian, Jazz, Modern and Burlesque over the years. Yoga and meditation were also offered.
But looking for another studio to call home isn’t an option right now, Krynytzky said.
“Rents have gone up ridiculously,” she said. “They cost two to three times what we were paying.”
Krynytzky said she is using this transition period as an opportunity to further develop her relationships with the local dance community. Belly dancing classes and performances will be held at MAR in downtown St. Petersburg and St. Pete Dance Center on US Highway 19 for the time being.
“Space does not define community.” said Krynytzky. “It takes us further to spread our message more widely.”
The last dance class at the studio will be on Sunday. Hip Expressions will also perform at The MAR’s first anniversary festival on the same day.