by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Tyler McElhaney

Just Dance!

Fourteen years ago, Francine Garton opened The Royal Dance Academy (RDA) in Carmel Valley. The dance studio was wildly popular, providing dance education to over 3,000 students with endless waitlists and three expansions of the facility. In 2014, when Francine realized that she needed to expand yet again, she took the opportunity to make her lifelong dream of opening a performing arts academy become a reality; and, thus, Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) was built.

RAPA, located on Sorrento Valley Road, is a 15,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, offering its students six dance studios, an acting studio, three musical studios, and a yoga/Pilates/gyrotonic studio. “There is a spacious parent waiting area with four large TV monitors to watch classes, a large homework room and tutor room, and a juice bar/café area serving healthy ‘beaming’ products,” added Francine.


RAPA was created to cater to all programs offered by RDA and its facility can accommodate elite dancers, recreational dancers, competition teams, recitals, ballet exams, acting workshops, and singing recitals. “It’s a beautiful, modern, high-tech space that will stimulate a child’s love for the arts,” described Francine. “Our mission is to help provide excellent training for all dancers, irrespective of their level and age, providing a comprehensive program for all who love the arts and always striving to provide the best of the best teachers to develop and challenge the students.”

“It’s a beautiful, modern, high-tech space that will stimulate a child’s love for the arts.”

Francine credits much of the success of the studios to RAPA’s teaching staff, which consists of professional dancers and choreographers. “Our staff are master teachers and have the resumes to support their reputations,” said Francine. “Our teachers love to teach and nurture their students. Our philosophy is to make a positive difference to each and every child who comes to our studio.” It is her staff, Francine explained, that have helped her create a professional, vibrant, welcoming environment and family-like community. “Students call it their second home and love being there,” she shared. “A true testimonial for what we are about is seeing the extreme progress that the students make in a short amount of time. Some students are unrecognizable from the student they were months earlier. This is a true teaching skill to achieve this success and makes me immensely proud.”

As for her future business goals, Francine added, “to establish RAPA as a truly successful performing arts center that continues to develop and nurture children’s love for dance and the arts.”cs_royal01


Name of Business: Royal Academy of Performing Arts; Royal Dance Academy
Owner: Francine Garton
Year of Establishment: 2001
Address: 11494 Sorrento Valley Rd., San Diego, CA 92121
Email Contact:
Phone: 858-259-7272
Description of Business: RAPA is a true performing arts campus, offering the best education in all disciplines of dance, acting, music and voice lessons, Pilates and gyrotonic. It is the newest and largest facility in the area.