Meet Tara Behnke | Coastal Dance and Music Academy

Meet Tara Behnke

Tara-Behnke-Owner-Director Coastal-Dance-and-Music-Academy

Tara Behnke Owner/Director

TARA has been dancing since the age of three. She fell in love with performing immediately and has loved being on stage ever since. As a young artist, she began her study of classical ballet at the Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo. Her training immediately broadened to include jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and tap. Along with dance conventions, Tara has trained at West Side Ballet, Zeal Studio, and the Edge in Los Angeles as well as Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Tara has participated in national and international tours to Spain, China, and Cuba and has danced with several professional-level companies in SLO county, including All Things Contemporary Dance Company, the San Luis Jazz Dancers, and the Civic Ballet. As one of the company’s principal dancers, she performed in numerous roles in productions including the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and original works, and danced the lead roles of “Maria” in West Side Story and “Nancy” in Since I Saw Her Standing There a Beatles ballet.


Tara has been a dance instructor and the director of performing groups in San Luis Obispo County since 2002, including Dance Out Loud and Synergy Dance Company at CDMA. She has participated as a choreographer in CDMA’s Summer Intensive programs as well as Morro Bay High School’s 2009 Dance Intensive. In 2008, she, along with Kathy Schultz, founded Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet, which has since grown into Coastal Performing Arts Foundation including Coastal Youth Theater and Beyond Boundaries, a special needs education program. Tara was the Associate Producer of Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet’s Fall production of Babes In Toyland and has been a contributing choreographer since its inception. In 2017 and 2018, Tara had the pleasure of being the Artistic Director of Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet’s production of Babes in Toyland.


Tara is currently Co-Executive Director and Owner of Coastal Dance and Music Academy as well as an instructor. She is also the founder and Artistic Director of Synergy Dance Company and Program Director for CDMA’s Dance Teacher Training Program.


Tara’s diverse teaching experience expands beyond dance, including public preschool and working with students with autism. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child Development and Psychology from Cal Poly. The research for her senior project focused on how extracurricular activities influence positive developmental outcomes during adolescence. She is now fascinated with immersing child developmental theory into her teaching and the programs at CDMA.

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FUN FACT: Did you know…As shown in numerous research studies, participation in extracurricular activities help foster positive development. Involvement has been linked to increased academic achievement, educational attainment, and psychological adjustment, as well as lowered delinquency rates and healthier peer interaction.

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