WSPA was founded in the summer of 1991 by Malu Rivera-Peoples and Karen Dycaico. In a successful collaboration with the City of Daly City Parks and Recreation Department, a state-of-the art dance studio in the Larcombe Clubhouse was built to begin a summer dance program of 35 students and three instructors. Its first performance was at the Pacelli Gymnasium celebrating the new renovated park.
To date, WSPA has an enrollment of over a thousand students training in dance, music, and theater. It has found its new home in a 14,000 square feet of land with 6 lovely studios surrounding a courtyard at the Doelger Arts Center in Daly City. It has a staff of 22 teachers and 10 office personnel. Its programs include pre-professional training in classical ballet, pointe, character, and variation classes. It also offers ethnic dance classes in Russian and Polynesian traditions and a department of Broadway musical theater classes. Tap, jazz, and hip hop are also offered to all levels of ability. For the pre-schoolers, there are combination classes of ballet n’ tap. WSPA has a music room where private classes in piano, voice, and musical theater are taught. The students’ talents and achievements are presented in a weekend of performances with lavish productions at the Year-End showcase, marking the culmination of another year of wonderful dance and performing arts training.
In 1994, the WSPA Performance Program was formed. The school’s dedicated and committed students with ages ranging from 5 to 21 years old audition for acceptance in the Junior, Jr. Apprentice, Apprentice and Company levels in ballet, tap, jazz, hula, hip hop and musical theater programs. With the commitment and dedication of each student, paralleled by the professionalism of its teachers, and the support of the parents, each program blossomed into a strong performing group separately. Their professionalism and high quality presentations in ballet, hula, tap, jazz, musical theater, and hip hop were recognized wherever they performed. They continue to receive top honors in regional and national competitions such as the Youth American Grand Prix (Outstanding School in 2004); International Dance Challenge (Ultimate Challenge Champions and Ultimate Entertainment Champions in 2004 Finals and 2005 regional), American Dance Awards and the North American Dance Championships (top honors in 2003), Tahiti Fete/San Jose (top honors in 2004), Hieva I Reno, Showstoppers, and Prelude in Northern and Southern California (First place in 2007). The students learn and perform a repertoire that is as varied as its performers’ cultural diversity; from classical ballets such as Swan Lake to contemporary ballets, authentic Russian, Filipino, and Polynesian folk dances, as well as broadway musicals. Their seasonal performances include in December, a full-length production of “The Nutcracker” at the Palace of Fine Arts and the “Holiday Revue” at the Serramonte Del Rey Theater; in February, the “Urban Paradise” in Bayside Theater, San Mateo; in June, the WSPA Annual Showcase at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center; and in November, the San Francisco Hip Hop Festival in the Palace of Fine Arts. WSPA students also travel coast to coast for national finals and festivals from California to New York and across the seas in the beautiful island of Maui, to the prestigious Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila, and in His Majesty’s Theater in Scotland. From the community, the school has been awarded the “Best of The Best” dance school every year by the Bay Area Peninsula Magazine.
WSPA is extremely proud of its students and programs. Fully understanding that not all will pursue a career in the performing arts, WSPA’s legacy of hard work, discipline, and ‘putting your best foot forward’ will always stay with them for a lifetime. These are the factors that make WSPA a unique and valuable addition to the community at large.