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Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter thanks his former dance instructor from Tampa in touching tribute (w/ video)

TAMPA -- Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter appeared at a meeting of the Hillsborough County commission on Wednesday.

Tell me why.

County commissioners presented a commendation Wednesday morning to Sandy Karl, a local dance instructor retiring after 45 years in business. Along with her late husband, Karl owned the Karl and DiMarco School of Dance in Tampa.

And before he was a “Larger Than Life” popstar, Ruskin native Nick Carter was Karl’s student.

Oh my god, he’s back again -- by video, at least.

Commissioner Victor Crist played a pre-recorded message from Carter congratulating Karl on her retirement.

“At a very young age I learned so many things just from being able to be myself, to be able to be creative, unique,” Carter said. “And I was able to really build on the things that you taught me and use those things later in life — just values and morals and obviously the dancing.”

Carter also made a pitch for the community to “support the arts because you never know where it’s going to take (kids) in their lives.”

Karl called Carter a “great student.” In accepting the recognition, Karl said her career wasn’t work because she loved it.

“I’ve been a dictator all my life, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate this recognition,” Karl said. “This is just overwhelming for me.”

Crist presented the commendation to Karl, who has taught his daughter. A former ballerina, he warned that he nearly showed up in a leotard in support of Karl’s work.

(To which Commissioner Pat Kemp later remarked, “I didn’t expect to hear so much about Commissioner Crist’s past. It’s quite colorful.”)

Hearing a celebrity like Carter recognize his childhood dance instructor, Crist said, provided “a glimpse into the hard work and people behind the scenes that make careers happen.”

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To paraphrase his entire video message, Carter said Karl was “my fire, my one desire.” But here’s his full comments:

“What’s up everybody. This is Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. And I want to say congratulations to Sandy Karl for your 45 years of service in the arts in Tampa Bay. You deserve this so much, I am so proud of you. I want to thank you for everything you taught me through the years at a very young age I learned so many things just from being able to be myself, to be able to be creative, unique, as if I had a home with you in dance class. And I was able to really build on the things that you taught me and use those things later in life. Just values and morals and obviously the dancing which at time was pretty hard in class with you, I'll tell you that. But overall, it was a great experience. I loved it so much and it taught me so much and were an integral part of me becoming who I am in the this business. I thank you so much and I want to remind to continue to support the arts in Tampa. It’s a great way for kids to escape, to find a home and learn about things themselves, and to be unique and be creative so continue to support the arts because you never know where it’s going to take them in their lives. It’s great for the children. Forty-five years in this industry and the community, you deserve this.”

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