Nine years ago, Bridgette Borzillo set out to make a professional dance company that also provided employment for dancers.
In September 2020, CaZo Dance Center became a reality when Borzillo signed a lease at 2655 W. Guadalupe Road in Mesa.
Describing that as an opportunity that just fell into her lap, the “extremely body-positive” dance school teaches contemporary, ballet, ballroom, partnering, jazz, hip hop and aerial to kids, and has a “pretty thriving” adult program, she says.
“I don’t want to be a competition studio where people come in and they’re having bad attitudes when they’re here,” Borzillo says.
“It brings me joy to help others build confidence and security in their bodies and just be confident in what they have and what we can do with your bodies because it’s amazing.”
Since age 6, dance has been a center of Borzillo’s life.
As a girl, she would make up her own dances with her sisters.
But after watching a Britney Spears dance concert on TV in high school, Borzillo focused on dance as a career.
“That’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Borzillo says. “I want to create big productions like that or dance or be a part of them.”
Borzillo took her first official dance class as a freshman at Fall Brook High School, near San Diego, and became a gifted athlete in soccer, softball and field hockey; a cheerleader; and a member of the dance team and the Step-Team Club, which performs percussive dance with a mix of footsteps, spoken word and hand claps.
She earned a softball scholarship to San Diego State University, but a cluster of issues her sophomore year that included catching mononucleosis forced Borzillo to miss enough school and softball practice that the coach eventually revoked her scholarship.
“Basically, the coach told me that the freshmen coming in were better than me,” Borzillo says. “So, she took my scholarship.”
Borzillo transferred to Arizona State University, where she easily earned a scholarship as a walk-on to their softball team and graduated cum laude in 2007 with a bachelors of fine arts in dance choreography.
Borzillo became a member of various dance companies in San Diego and Phoenix after college, as well as a licensed massage therapist to better understand body movements. She opened a massage practice in 2009 with a focus on helping athletes and dancers.
In November 2014, Borzillo established CaZo Dance, whose name derives from a combination of her maiden name and her married name, thought most people simply think it’s as a combination of California and Arizona acronyms.
But without a studio to call home, Borzillo says she bartered with different dance studios to exchange massage therapy for rehearsal space.
Eventually, she earned a residency through the nueBOX arts organization for six months at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
In time, nueBOX moved their program to Mesa Arts Center, and ultimately, Borzillo became an education partner creating a dance program and offering classes to the public.
For four years, Borzillo built her teaching credentials teaching classes like partnering and ballroom and also met Rebecca Boizelle, who created a kids’ dance program.
That all came to a screeching halt in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.
“I still wanted to continue because for me, I was like, ‘This pandemic thing isn’t going to last forever,’” Borzillo says. “Little did I know.”
Thankfully, Borzillo says a friend owned a fitness studio and offered her rehearsal space when she first started in 2014, then came through again by offering to rent to her space during the pandemic.
Since September 2020, when that friend decided to downsize her fitness studio and the opportunity for a lease fell in her lap, CaZo Dance Center has stood strong and growing.
Today, CaZo operates three different rooms inside the school, each aptly named: Las Vegas is named for the first dance festival the professional company attended, California named for the rectangular shape of Borzillo’s home state, and Arizona named for the square shape of the state she calls home.
Running the full-fusion dance company, Borzillo also works as the artistic director for CaZo Dance Theatre and built the professional dance company.
CaZo’s performances intrigue kids, like Mesa resident Tiffany Nickerson’s oldest son Connor, 8, who has an interest in hip-hop dance and tried a similar dance program through the city but he didn’t care for it.
After seeing a Facebook post from CaZo Dance, Connor tried it out last summer and “he loved it,” his mother said.
After watching CaZo’s Christmas concert in 2022, Tiffany’s 7-year-old son Phoenix and 6-year-old Calvin said they also wanted to try it as well.
“They love you guys and you’re all amazing with them,” Tiffany told Borzillo.
Rebecca Boizelle, one of Borzillo’s facilitators for the children’s classes and a performer in CaZo Dance Theatre for over eight years, said the shows resonate with people because they offer “dance performances for people who don’t like dance.”
“They allow a lot of our audience to open their understanding or be a little bit more open to watching dance and then that creates a palette for those dancers,” Boizelle says.
CaZo Dance Center
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