Tommy Tibball, co-director of the TKO Dance Academy in Ozone Park, was a featured performer on this week’s episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” The FOX dance competition program is in its 10th season and recently aired this year’s first-round auditions. Tibball advanced to the next round of the competition in Las Vegas and is now one of the top 50 finalists.
After majoring in dance at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Long Island City, Tibball decided to open a dance studio. As the studio’s co-director, he teaches lyrical, contemporary, jazz and hip-hop classes. TKO Dance Academy is a family-run business, with Tibball’s parents managing the finances and maintenance while his sisters also teach classes.
“In his senior year he wasn’t really one hundred percent dedicated to going to college because he wanted to pursue his dance career,” Tibball’s mother, Maria, explained. “Besides performing, he’s a great teacher and a great choreographer. He does the music, costumes and numbers — each one of his numbers tells a story.”
Tibball and his family drove to Boston for the show’s audition, which was taped earlier this year. “It was exciting for the whole family — it was really amazing,” Maria said, adding how proud she was of her son’s accomplishment.
The TKO Dance Academy is celebrating its fifth year and recently moved into a larger space. Tibball, along with the studio’s co-director, Kareem Hills, will take a group of students to the Starpower International Talent Competition this summer.
Though Maria’s daughters are both studying to become teachers, the whole family travels to the dance competitions. “It becomes a part of your life,” Marie said.
“Each individual child has a gift and you should believe in them and pursue and follow their dreams. Just believe in what they do — good things happen to good people.”