New Leaders Take the Helm of Stapleton School of the Performing Arts: The Expanded Legacy of Dance & Theater Programming in Marin County and Beyond

Since 1988, Stapleton School of the Performing Arts has provided high-quality performing arts training. Distinguished by its commitment to inclusivity and respect, SSPA, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest nonprofit performing arts organizations, welcomes a new leadership team to expand on the remarkable 34-year legacy of Founder Virginia Stapleton.

“Performing arts education not only benefits the social, emotional and physical development of our future leaders and innovators,” says Artistic Director Wilhelmina Frankfurt, “it provides a sense of structure, accountability and communal belonging that we all need to thrive. Stapleton’s world-class faculty mentor students as they develop healthy communication and collaboration skills — habits that are vital to success in any field.”

Stapleton School
Artistic Director Wilhelmina Frankfurt (right), Managing Director Janell McFarland (middle) and Development Director Casey Lee Thorne constitute the new leadership team at SSPA. Photo by Steven Caras© All rights reserved.

SSPA’s year-round dance programming now includes contemporary dance, hip-hop, musical theater jazz, and stretch and strength for dancers for ages 3-18. Popular summer programming includes Pilates and composition classes as well as repertoire from the great George Balanchine© (Balanchine is a trademark of the George Balanchine Trust). Annual productions will include “The Nutcracker,” one of Marin County’s most popular holiday traditions, along with a spring ballet and two multigenerational theater shows.

Stapleton School
SSPA’s lower division classes include ballet, hip-hop, music and musical theater jazz.

“Our mission has always been to provide high-quality performing arts training with dance, theater and music center stage,” says Frankfurt. As such, beloved Resident Theatre Director Bruce Vieira will return to illuminate the Stapleton Theatre Company in 2023, alongside Isabella Qureshi, director of SSPA’s theater division.

Stapleton School
The Stapleton Theatre Company will be revived in 2023 with a multigenerational show directed by Bruce Vieira. Photo by Steven Caras© All rights reserved.

Building on a vision of community in motion, SSPA has launched exciting new community engagement initiatives including a citizen artist program which provides cross-cultural dance and theater education in Marin County public schools. Students ignited by the program may be invited to participate in opening night, a special scholarship opportunity to train on SSPA’s main campus and perform in its productions for free. Further, a new choreographic residency awards free studio space, mentorship and career advancement to select professional choreographers, furthering a mission to invest in the next generation of dance makers.

Stapleton School
Students from SSPA’s citizen artist program gather at the Nicasio School.

For more information about SSPA’s class offerings, community engagement programming and performances, please visit Enrollment is ongoing year-round. We welcome you to join the Stapleton family!