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History & Philosophy

CAPA was founded in 1981 by Joan Robinson and Ronn Guidi, then Artistic Director of the Oakland Ballet. They wanted to create a place in the beautiful Moraga Valley where the “children of the suburbs” could have access to the finest professional training. Joan and Ronn realized their dream, and though Ronn soon found the demands of the Oakland Company too demanding to do both, he was confident that Joan would continue the integrity of their joint plan. Since then CAPA has flourished, growing from the original 110 students of the first session to its current size of over 400 students and more than 1,800 student hours weekly with a staff that includes the finest professionals in the Bay Area. Their experience goes far beyond the studio and university classroom, including performing and/or choreographing for professional companies around the world, plus movies, television, theaters, cruise lines and videos. CAPA’s dancers are also world travelers, performing in Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Mexico and throughout the USA.


“To teach the art of dance and theater in a professional manner, and to develop life skills in individual students that will be a lifelong benefit whatever path they take.”

CAPA has been working with young people for thirty-five  years, and we feel we provide something very special to our students and families. Our main goals are:

–   Teaching our art
–   Teaching life skills through our art
–   Creating a safe and nurturing environment for our students

“The product is important but the emphasis is on the process.”

This is a great environment for your children. Our graduates are very successful after leaving us. Their time here and the life lessons they learn translate into success in many walks of life. Dance mates become their lifelong friends – much like family.

Each student is unique and equally important. Unlike academia where progress is fairly predictable, dance progress often does not follow a rigid timeline. Many things determine a student’s progress – effort, attendance, parental cooperation, attitude and behavior, body type and TALENT.  All of the preceding can be adjusted with the exception of the last two.  A great basketball coach once said, “You can’t teach height.”  We can’t change your student’s genetics, and we can’t impart talent. We CAN teach – and many of our finest students have been dancers with a small amount of talent but great effort. Those with little talent, but lots of dedication can enjoy participation for many years – and learn a lot about life in the process.

Not every student moves at the same pace – nor should they. Some grow immensely in one season. Others are so preoccupied with a rapidly growing body, it’s a wonder they can walk, let alone dance. Rarely, some children skip levels, some double-up; Often, students repeat levels for the most improvement. It is always for the benefit of the dancer.

We ask you to trust our professionalism.  CAPA has one of the finest staffs in California. Please do not question a teacher’s placement of your dancer in a class or in a dance. The student is where she is supposed to be – for her benefit and the benefit of the overall piece.  All are learning to be part of a whole – not just to be stars.  Do not judge your dancer’s progress or placement in comparison with someone else’s.

If a dancer is part of our Ensemble Division, she is learning other life skills as well. Ensemble placement is based on cohesiveness and overall success of the group. A dancer’s participation in that ensemble will enable her to understand that the group dynamic – lessons of commitment and team effort are key.  While members of our ensembles, we expect their conduct to represent CAPA well – in effort, behavior and appearance. They are expected to adhere to these standards with your help. These dancers and their parents also must sign a “contract” spelling out the commitment they must make.