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Instructor Spotlight: Joanna Barry

1. How long have you been teaching at Garden Street?

I have been there since the very beginning!!...Feel free to call me the OG!!

2. What classes do you teach at Garden Street?

I teach Irish Step to all ages and Advanced Tap to all ages.

3. Where do you draw inspiration from when choreographing?

Music inspires me, always has and always will. No matter what genre of dance I am choreographing, it's the piece of music I love that moves me and tells me what I want to see come through the dance. Sometimes I'll hear a song or an instrumental that I have to set a dance to even if it's not for anything in particular, it just moves me.

4. What is your favorite thing about the students at Garden Street?

I love their enthusiasm, youthful energy and genuine desire to learn so many different styles. They allow me to incorporate all my styles of dance training no matter if I am teaching Irish Step or Tap, choreographing for their recitals, a public performance, a competition piece or staging a musical number. I see their love for the arts and can visualize their performances based on their contributions during class or rehearsal and that is key when it comes to choreographing.

5. Where are you from and why did you move to the area?

I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland where I did all of my dance training in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, contemporary and of course Irish Step Dancing. I first came to the USA in 1995 to tour with a Dublin based show and just kept coming back over with different touring musical groups till eventually I moved here permanently in 1997.

6. What initially drew you to dance?

My mother is a dancer and my father and grandfather are musicians so I was exposed to the arts before I could walk or talk. Like a moth to the flame I couldn't resist and jumped right onto the stage. Well, "wheeled" onto it. When I was a tiny baby, instead of a doll being wheeled in a carriage onto the stage of a show my mammy was dancing in, I was put it the carriage, all in an effort to corpse an actor who was an infamous practical joker.

7. What advice do you have for your dance students?

Explore every genre, try every style and challenge yourself even if you feel like it might not come easy to you. I was born with two turned in feet, much to my poor mammy's horror, so I had to work very hard if I wanted to be taken seriously as a professional dancer. I still have to work on it. I love what I do and once you have that love and desire, nothing can stop you becoming the dancer you know you can be. Feel the music, let it drive you, move you and tell that story through dance to your audience and they will enjoy your performance as much as you enjoy performing it.

8. Where do you perform as a dancer?

I have literally performed all over the world from Ireland, Austria, Japan, the Caribbean, Canada and the USA. Even made it to Carnegie Hall. Do you know how you get there? Practice! Practice! Practice! Now I am a mother of three my performances are confined to the USA, the tri-state area mainly. I can currently be seen performing on a regular basis in my kitchen!!.... can't help myself.

9. What would you do when you are not teaching?

I perform with my dance company, "Emerald Fire" and I am chief cook and bottle washer at home with my kids. A chauffeur, a housekeeper, gardener and maintenance man. I have run and managed a restaurant and bar and I still tend bar where i can also be seen "tapping" away when I think no one is looking. Pardon the pun.

10. What is one interesting or unexpected fact about you that most students do not know?

Hmmmmmmm?? Not sure if it's interesting or unexpected but when I'm not doing all of the above I do like to dabble in the interior and exterior design of my house. I have often shown up to the dance studio with paint in my hair, glue on my hands and mud on my shoes.

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