Stapleton School History
Virginia Stapleton starts a ballet program for the San Anselmo Parks and Recreation Department. Over the next 9 years Virginia works at building curriculum, a syllabus, and enrollment.
40 students and parents travel to the USSR for two weeks in the spring to participate in Russian ballet training programs in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Enrollment increases to 300 students, making it necessary to relocate to a facility that could accommodate the student body. Virginia forms a non-profit incorporated business and Stapleton School of the Performing Arts is born. For the next 6 years the school is housed on the campus of Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo. Sharon Burns joins the organization on a part-time basis, Virginia to assist with marketing and administrative detail for the growing organization.
December 1989 —
Virginia collaborates with David McNaughton to create her first Nutcracker, presented in the Drake High School Little Theater.
The cast of Tom Sawyer travels to Edinburgh, Scotland in the summer to perform the ballet at the world renowned "Festival Fringe." The performances earn the distinction of best show of the week. In the fall, Vassilii Mountian, former soloist with the Moiseyev joins the faculty. He adds a rich component of character dancing to the school.
Students perform throughout the Bay Area in the Festival of Dance in San Francisco at the Herbst Theater & Yerba Buena Theatre of Performing Arts with such pieces as Saber Dance, Tarantella, Gossip, and Over the Leg Polka.
Virginia creates a full production of La Fille Mal Gardee. Virginia Stapleton and Vassilii Mountian as contributing choreographer, choreograph the production.
The school again outgrows its home, and with Mark Brougham's design we move into the current location at 118 Greenfield Ave. Two studios, office space, costume closet and set storage.
A new full-length production of Coppelia, choreography by Virginia and Vassilii is staged.
The Nutcracker makes the leap to the "big time", and is presented at the 1,900 seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The school receives a large grant to underwrite school DanceReach school outreach programs.
New choreography and costumes are developed for the 10th Annual performance of the school's Nutcracker. The school receives a large grant to underwrite school DanceReach school outreach programs.
Virginia creates first Audition Workshop to help prepare dancers for auditions for professional companies' summer programs. Expanding enrollment and new programs necessitate the opening of a satellite studio.
Stapleton escorts a group of parents and dancers on a trip to Panama, Central America, for a two-week Intensive workshop with renowned Cuban ballerina Amparo Brito.
Sharon Burns is appointed Executive Director of the Stapleton School. The Board of Directors approves the addition of a Theatre Arts Division, of which the cornerstone is the fledgling Stapleton Theatre Company, evolved from the former San Anselmo Town Players. In July, Stapleton and Burns accompany a group of parents and dancers to Panama to study with Brito.
Ballet Division enrollmentgrows to over 400 students. World renowned danseur Jorge Esquivel and Yoira Esquivel Brito are the guest performers in the Stapleton Ballet production of Coppelia in May, 2007. Individual year-end dancer assessments are implemented for all Youth Company dancers. Fantasy Ballet Camp program is expanded to 6 weeks. Over 3,000 students and seniors attend the school's DanceReach performances of Nutcracker.
The school celebrates its twentieth anniversary with a Gala event, attended by alumni, faculty and supporters. Charles Torres collaborates with Stapleton to create an original ballet, Alice in Wonderland. The 20th Anniversary Nutcracker features all-new sets for the Party Scene, created by Nick Cann; and new choreography and costumes for the Chinese and Arabian variations.
Ballet Division enrollment tops 500 students. Fantasy Ballet Camp expands to 8 weeks and a new Junior Ballet Intensive program is added. Phase 2 of the Nutcracker project, new scenery for Act 2, is unveiled.
The Stapleton Ballet presents four sold out performances of Swan Lake, featuring guest performers Patricia Perez and Charles Torres. 22nd annual production of Nutcracker features over 225 student performers and a makeover of the Battle Scene. Bold new sets, costumes and choreography are unveiled; highlights include a towering Christmas tree that grows to nearly 50 feet tall and a firing cannon.
The Stapleton Youth Company, with over 100 dancers, presents Sleeping Beauty at The Playhouse. Also on the bill are Paquita variations performed by advanced level dancers. Assistant Artistic Director Yoira Brito Esquivel creates new Spanish choreography for 2011 Nutcracker.
Over 525 students are enrolled in Ballet division. To accommodate demand, the annex studio is relocated to a large, spacious facility at 1879 Second Street, San Rafael, which opens in August, 2012. The Spring show features Coppelia paired with Repertory Works by guest choreographers Wilhelmina Frankfurt, Jetta Martin, and Cynthia Stanley. New staging and sets for the Nutcracker overture are unveiled; as well as new costumes for adult female party characters and Mother Ginger and her buffoons.
The School's 25th anniversary year begins with a magnificent, full-length production of Swan Lake at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in March. In May, a Gala anniversary celebration is held at the Meadow Club. The Summer Balanchine© Intensive featured guest instructors with a strong focus on the work of the father of American ballet, George Balanchine. The 25th Anniversary Nutcracker features new Party Scene children costumes and set enhancements in the Snow Scene.
The spring concert features Peter and The Wolf paired with Repertory works. Repertory works feature Balanchine© Choreography (part of a 3 year educational study), excerpts from Paquita and original pieces created by Cynthia Anne Stanley and Stapleton faculty members. The focus on Balanchine© continues in the two-week summer intensive. Nutcracker Snow Scene is enhanced with oversized snowflake scenery. Stapleton Theatre Company presents the 5th Annual musical version of A Christmas Carol.
Over one hundred-thirty dancers are in the Youth Company. Sleeping Beauty is the centerpiece of the spring concert, which also includes Repertory Works: A study of the work of George Balanchine©. A greatly expanded menu of summer programs includes a partnership with Ross Valley Cross Fit on flexibility and conditioning camp for dancers. The summer intensive, Shape and Design, focuses on the work of Balanchine© and Martha Graham. An online enrollment system is implemented and a unique partnership with College of Marin is created.