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Instructor Spotlight: Tabatha Arocho

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

I started working at Garden street this past summer, but Annie and I have known each other since we were kids. We went to the same dance studio on Long Island. Maybe we will bust out some old dance videos one day!

Check out Tabatha and Garden Street owner Annie McLoughlin dancing as kids!

2. What do you teach at Garden Street?

Tap, jazz, musical theater and lyrical. I'm so excited for the spring production of Freckleface Strawberry!! Working with the students and Anne makes Wednesday's so much fun!

3. What is your favorite thing about Garden Street students?

What incredible singers they are. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching a Broadway show when they perform. It brings me to tears. And then they walk off stage and they're humble, and they congratulate other performers, whom they don't even know. Its humbling and inspiring. I love that about these kids. I also love the dedication that everyone has for their craft and how supportive everyone is of each other's artistry, teachers included.

4. What initially drew you to the performing arts?

My Aunt! I refused to play sports because I got dirty. And then she found dance when I was 2. I cried for a bit, because I was so attached to her, but then the people at the studio became our family.. and I was hooked!

5. Where do you draw your inspiration from when choreographing?

Human emotion. I love to create pieces with a story. I draw inspiration from life experiences I've had personally, or things I've witnessed. Seeing a piece that touches you is a reminder that we are all in this together. I am honored that I get to create work that could touch someone, and that brings the dancers in the piece to a new level of understanding.

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

I am a Queens girl born and bred. I've lived in NYC, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles... and I'm back because, well there's just no place like home and no place like New York City!

7. What advice do you have for dancers?

Be present in each moment. Don't just reiterate a bunch of steps that have been taught to you, rather, really listen to the music, connect the movement and live each moment. Whether it's heavy, happy, sassy, fierce or fun... BE THAT, that's how you own it. And do it organically. You can ALWAYS tell when someone is dancing from their heart. It transcends technique. At the end of the day we are entertainers, not technicians. Our job is to make our audience feel something.

8. What is your teaching philosophy?

Honesty and positivity. I will let you know when something needs to be worked on. Because my desire is to make you better, if that's what you want, too. But I'll also be your biggest cheerleader when you achieve that goal.

9. What is your favorite performance memory?

Lying on the floor of Madison Square Garden after rehearsing a grueling 7 minute piece, the eve of opening night. I could barely breathe and I'm pretty sure we all nearly vomited because it was that hard. As I lay there, somewhere between the K and the N of the infamous KNICKS logo, I looked at the 20,000 empty seats all around me and thought- Tomorrow every single one of these seats will be filled. And my sweaty body is lying on the floor of Madison Square Garden. And I felt blessed.

10. What would you do if you were not a teacher?

I'd be be a writer, or do something in the ocean. Two things I plan on doing more of for sure.

11. Do you have any dream roles?

But if I told you then it wouldn't come true ;)

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

I'm a scuba diver, and it is my absolute favorite hobby. It's like going to a whole other world and getting to see how they live. It's magical and I love it!!

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