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Our Mission

As a child who didn't naturally fit in with the elementary school dynamics, I found myself searching for a place to be myself. It wasn't until my mother enrolled me in Ballet class  (as my school teacher complained I was always busy playing with the boys and was a "tom-boy") that I found where I belonged. Soon after, I was so enthralled by dance and the beautiful music played in class, I asked to go to the local dance studio every day. I studied and trained classically, and pursued all styles of dance including tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, lyrical and acro. Then I began piano and voice lessons, and couldn't decide between focusing on musical theatre or dance. I wanted to do it all. The only time I sat still was when I was busy in the art studio, painting and drawing what I felt inside as I was so inspired by all art forms. It is with this passion and love for the arts that I want to share them with the youth of our community. I found a home within the arts, and made my closest friends, and respected all of my talented teachers. I learned so much from them all especially Joe Istre, Jeff Edmond, Neal Tracy, Olga Vazar, Shirlene Blake-Neal, and many others. I was lucky to go to the High School of the Arts on Long Island, known as The Cultural Arts Center, and I spent my adulthood immersed in the arts. 


When I first started out in Hoboken after college, I started offering private music lessons in my tiny apartment on Garden Street with Dan McLoughlin, and our business was born. I truly enjoyed it and all the while felt truly lucky to be doing what I love for a living. I knew that opening the studio was the right fit for our family and Hoboken. When the opportunity came to open Garden Street School of the Performing Arts, I jumped at the chance. I immediately felt like it was something I had to do; music and dance had brought  so much joy and

inspiration in my life, and I wanted to pass that on to new students who walked through my doors.

I believe in the importance of the arts, not just for those who want to be professional musicians or dancers, but for everyone. The ability to express emotions through music, dance, literature and art is a gift that you keep forever, and to learn this at a young age can inspire a person for life. I am grateful to work with music and dance artists who share our vision. I have been so fortunate to be part of a community that understands how truly important education in the arts is. It has been a blessing to us in so many ways and has strengthened my belief that Hoboken is where I want to be. And now that I am raising my two sons here, I couldn’t be happier to be a part of a community who shares my passion for the arts.


So it is with this dedication that I give back to you; the parents, the caregivers, and the families of these young artists. I believe in them and are so proud of what they’ve accomplished and wish them the greatest of success. I appreciate the sacrifice it takes for you the parents to provide the best for your children and it is my mission to rise to the challenge: to care for them as I would our own. I look forward to watching them grow with a love for the arts, sharing the joy that it brings.



All my love,
Annie DiStefano

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