Malu Rivera-Peoples - WSPA Artistic Director
Selected one of the "Top 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S.” by the Filipina Women's Network, additional congratulations to Malu Rivera-Peoples for winning the Asian Pacific American's Lifetime Achievement Award. Out of over 50 nominees, only 3 per category were selected as a finalist. Malu was selected in 2 categories. Click here for more details from the event.
Malu took her first ballet class at the late age of 10 under the tutelage of Felicitas Radaic, Luis Layag and Steve Villaruz. At age 16, she began a professional career as principal dancer of Dance Theater Philippines under the direction of Felicitas Radaic, training further with guest artists Ian Stripling and Robin Haig. She later moved on to a bigger company becoming a soloist of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance Company, today known as Ballet Philippines under the artistic direction of Alice Reyes. Since then, she has worked with national and international figures such as Gener Caringal, Kenneth Gillespie, Armin Wilde, Norman Walker, Luminita Dumitrescu, William Morgan, Alfred Rodriguez, Gray Veredon, and Mikael Kukarev. She performed with internationally acclaimed guest dancers such as Alicia Alonso, Margot Fonteyn, Patrick Bissell, Fernando Bujones, Leslie Brown, Joyce Cuoco, Martin Van Hamel, Natasha Makarova, Eleanor D’Antuono and Rudolph Nureyev. Dancing has taken her all over the world, including Great Britain, Wales, former USSR, Germany, France, Greece, Indonesia, United States, Jakarta, Thailand, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Among the popular classics, she performed solo roles in the full-length productions of Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, Nutcracker, Cinderella, Les Sylphides, and Romeo & Juliet. Malu was a noted performer for her strong projection and characterization in neo-classic and modern choreography, such as; La Gitana, in Norman Walker’s Songs, Drones, and Refrains of Death; Helen of Troy in Odyseus; Kooni in Rama Hari, and Tadtarin in Amada, choreographed by Alice Reyes; and Maria in Tanan, choreographed by Felicitas Radaic. She has performed several title roles such as "Gardenia" choreographed by Edna Vida, and "Leonore", choreographed by Robin Haig.
Her teaching career began at age 14 under the supervision of her teacher Felicitas Radaic. She became a member of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD, London) at age 16, qualifying her to prepare children for the annual RAD Children’s Examinations; the same examinations she passed with flying colors as a student. At 19, while she was dancing for Ballet Philippines, she opened her own school, the Silid-Sining Workshop for the Performing Arts in Manila, which continues to operate to this date. In 1983, Malu migrated to the United States and by the summer of 1991, she co-founded the Westlake School for the Performing Arts (WSPA) in Daly City.
In her 20 years as WSPA school and artistic director, Malu has been recognized as a choreographer, receiving several Outstanding Choreography Awards for modern, ballet, lyrical jazz, and musicals. She was awarded the “Outstanding Choreographer” at the Youth America Grand Prix Long Beach Regional in 2004 and 2006. She stages the full-length ballet, The Nutcracker, each year at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. She has lead the school to travel to the Philippines, to national finals in California, Nevada, and New York. Across seas, she has lead the performance program to international dance festivals in Manila, Philippines in 2001, Maui, Hawaii in 2006, Aberdeen, Scotland in 2007, and Macau, China in 2008 and 2010. The school received YAGP’s “The Outstanding School” Award in 2004 and 2010 and garners top awards for their ensemble works every year in major dance competitions such as Showstoppers Dance Championships, the International Dance Challenge, Spotlight Dance Cup and the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. From the Filipino-American community, she was given the 2001 Pamana Arts Legacy Award and was the artistic director for the 2004 Pamana Awards Night. She was recognized as one of the Remarkable Women in 2002 and was selected as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the United States by the Filipino Women’s Network.
Hear more about Malu's own history with dance and her growing passion for the art, in her own words.