SARASOTA, FLA. — The Sarasota community is raising donations for a beloved ballet teacher who is battling cancer.
Rey Dizon is co-director of the Diane Partington Studio of Classical Ballet in Sarasota. He started the dance studio with his wife more than two decades ago. His daughter, Diana Dizon, is also a teacher at the studio.
"He is so positive and so full of happy energy that you can’t help but feel it. He’s going through treatment and going through very hard times yet he’s smiling through it," said Bre Mulock.
Bre Mulock has a 9-year-old daughter who attends dance lessons at the studio. She has known the Dizon family for more than a decade.
"You can’t come across a more talented, special person from his craftsmanship and artistry. He makes all the props. They’re professional, amazing," said Mulock.
Doctors diagnosed Dizon with adenocarcinoma in May of 2021. Cancer spread from his lungs to his brain. In December, he had trouble walking and weakness on his left side. Doctors discovered several tumors in his brain. He had surgery to remove them last year.
"Shock, devastation fear, but after that an amazing surge of hope and love from the whole studio community and from Mr. Rey himself, he is so positive," added Mulock.
Two days after brain surgery, he joined his students on stage for a production of "The Nutcracker." The audience gave Dizon a standing ovation.
"I can’t even really put into words the feeling I had at the Nutcracker and having him backstage, a surprise, really. We didn’t know he would make it backstage," said Mulock.
Friends started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with medical expenses. More than $20,000 has been raised.
Dizon had radiation at Moffitt Cancer Center. He will also need chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
Dizon is originally from the Philippines. He started dancing at the age of 17. He was the principal dancer with the Sarasota Ballet of Florida and the Grands Ballets Canadiens.
The family does not know when Dizon will be able to return to the dance studio. Friends said he is fighting cancer with strength and grace.
"He is the glue that holds the production, the studio together."