California Ballet Conservatory students receive a high-caliber dance education at Cameron Park dance studio.

Dance students thrive at
Cameron Park studio

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By Jana Rossi

Tucked away in a little business area off Greenwood Lane in Cameron Park sits a small, unassuming dance studio. Inside, this studio holds years of experience and opportunities that would most likely only be found in a city such as San Francisco or New York … and that’s exactly how owner Killian Stephens likes it.

Her own experience of training in a little dance studio in the small town of Sonora, starting when she was just 5 years old, prompted her desire to offer better opportunities to young dancers. “It became evident by age 12 that I would have to leave the area and head to the Bay Area or other urban areas to pursue the high caliber of ballet training required for a professional career. I loved the California foothills and was sad to leave the area,” Stephens told the Mountain Democrat. “I am so happy to be able to return to my home state in El Dorado County to offer families the level of high-caliber training that will take dancers all the way through to career or college — without having to leave home.”

A renowned ballerina in her own right, Stephens has a lengthy résumé. Her early training began with Suzanne Stalley-Katsarsky, former soloist of the San Francisco Ballet. When she was 15 her family moved from California to Utah, where she joined the University of Utah Department of Ballet. There she performed with the Utah Ballet, where she said she would train for nine hours each day. Upon turning 18, she accepted a contract with Ballet Arizona and her experience continued to grow as Stephens attended many distinguished ballet and dance schools — Boston Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School and contemporary dance with The Juilliard School among a vast array of others. Her performances include the classics: “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake” and numerous others. After 10 years, Stephens retired from performing and started providing one-on-one coaching. Like many other retired dancers, she aspired to open her own dance studio, sharing that she loved seeing her students find success. “I found joy in watching them thrive and wanted to help more kids.”

In January 2020 Stephens made it happen and opened California Ballet Conservatory. What sets Stephens’ studio apart from other local studios is the multitude of magnificent dance connections she has acquired along her career. They include dance companies, universities and ballet programs, all of which her students are able to benefit. Many have received merit scholarships and acceptances into elite ballet schools and university dance programs. “The caliber of our training is on par with the top ballet schools in the nation.

Our students have not only been accepted to the top, elite summer intensive ballet programs (San Francisco Ballet School, American Ballet Theater, School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Ellison and many more) and top university programs such as University of Utah Ballet Department, UC Irvine, University of Arizona, they have also, since our opening, been awarded over $22,000 in scholarship monies to attend these elite programs,” Stephens shared. “Their high placements in national competitions such as the Youth American Grand Prix has also resulted in additional scholarship offers for these students. (And, that is just with our small level of advanced students.) It makes us very proud that our program is being recognized as a top training facility.”

While Stephens and her other instructors come with extensive dance backgrounds, her studio is open for all levels of experience. She offers Primary, Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet and Conservatory. Class sizes are small. Beginning in June she will offer summer dance intensives. Creative Movement for kids 3 to 5; Junior Ballet for 7 to 11 year olds with at least two years of ballet under their belt; and for those looking to take their ballet up a notch, there is Advanced Ballet Technique.

Coming this fall, a Contemporary Dance Troop will be starting. Stephens is also excited to add upcoming performance projects that will be held in addition to the year-round dance training. Students will be able to perform in “The Nutcracker” this winter; a spring showcase and full-length story ballets are also on the calendar.

Guest artists will participate with original works and choreography and for contemporary-focused dance students, there will be contemporary dance performances.

California Ballet Conservatory is located at 2570 Greenwood Lane, just off the Cambridge exit from Highway 50. For more information and to sign up for classes visit or call (530) 292-6106.

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