Serving the community since 1922

Two decades of celebrating dance

Planet Dance Studio opened its doors in 2002, providing the art of dance to thousands of students in tap, jazz, ballet and hip-hop. Regionally and nationally, it has garnered multiple championships and accolades and received scholarships at the highest level of competition.

Jacob Hernandez is the director and founded the school with his mother, Corine Matera. "Our studio has been within Wasco and Shafter for the last two decades, and we absolutely love being in these communities. There was nothing like this when we first started in the area, and since then, we have flourished."

The school, he said, contributes to the community. "By competing at the topmost tier representing our city. We also have two productions throughout the year that involve the community. We sponsor candidates for the Rose Queen pageant and have choreographed talent routines for the contestants who have either won or been crowned queen or first runner-up. Many of our dancers participate in Wasco Bengals cheer, and we believe all of that helps hand in hand."

There are specific values that guide the studio's approach to teaching dance. "They are hard work, determination, consistency, responsibility, accountability, discipline, passion, patience and above all else, the willingness to learn."

Youth ages 4 and up until seniors in high school can join, and the school caters to students with varying levels of experience.

"Our studio is a place where no experience is needed, and we offer different levels of beginning, intermediate and advanced. We work very diligently to ensure any first-year member is guided appropriately with the fundamentals they will need to succeed in each class."

His team of skilled, trained teachers contributes to a positive student learning experience. "Between our four instructors, we are very much a close-knit team in constant communication about our students, classes, show themes, music choices and choreography. We have a well-oiled system that can run the ship."

The studio fosters a sense of community among its students. "By upholding our rules and regulations, which are designed to be a safe zone and a place where our students can freely express themselves in the most respected way without any ridicule. We have zero tolerance for bullying or gossip and are committed to keeping our space positive for ourselves and our dancers."

Hernandez said he enjoys seeing his students thrive when they leave the studio. "It's watching those dancers that have gone through our program and have gone on to do other things, whether in college or professionally, as instructors or choreographers. It's teaching our students that this is a life skill they could make a living from. It's a great skill should they ever want to pursue [a career in dance]."

The studio has had multiple dancers perform with celebrities and work with celebrity choreographers. "We have received awards from congressmen over the years and recently received the key to the city."

For the future, Hernandez said, "I hope to continue to make an impact on the cultural fabric of our community doing what we love best and to keep teaching for the next two decades to come."

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