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Citrus Heights dance studio that opened during pandemic to celebrate first year

Suzanne Lewis and partner Angela Barker own Premiere School of Dance in Citrus Heights. // N. Otterstad

By Nadezhda Chayka Otterstad–
Citrus Heights residents Suzanne Lewis and Angela Barker opened Premiere School of Dance on May 5, 2020, right after coronavirus-related shutdowns of many businesses had begun.

Both saw a need for a dance studio in Citrus Heights, with Barker’s lifelong dream being to own and operate a dance studio after being in the dance industry for thirty years.

With a major in psychology and a minor in child development from California State Chico, Barker continued to dance and choreograph for the CSUC Dance Team through her four years of college. Starting from zero students and renovating the 4,000-square-foot property from a former Crossfit gym to a dance studio was another gigantic task.

Launching the business during the pandemic came with difficulties, with the lease for the building at 6962 Sunrise Blvd. being signed in February 2020.

“New businesses expect not to make a bunch of money the first few years,” said Lewis in a phone interview this week. “That said, Covid was an extra nail in the coffin… there was no steady stream of business during that time.”

Despite business closures during the pandemic, Lewis said the studio has been able to stay open “for the most part,” noting the limited number of students and plenty of space inside. She also said classes shifted outdoors for a time.

Lewis said business is now picking up, and a “first birthday” grand opening is scheduled for Sunday, May 2. A food truck, DJ and raffle are some of the activities planned for the celebration.

While Barker handles the teaching of classes, Lewis called herself “the boring one,” who handles the bookkeeping and office tasks. Barker does all the creative show directing: from lighting to music choice and choreography.

Classes offered are primarily ballet for ages two and up, but also include options for tap, jazz, acro dance, and an up-and-coming ballet class for football players.

Looking ahead, Lewis said plans are to stay family-oriented, offer competitions, and create a “company,” referring to a group of dancers who travel and compete. Additional hopes for the future are to add on more instructors to allow Barker to move on to directing roles.

Lewis said the studio also plans to host an upcoming summer show in July, with a live audience, as opposed to a prior show where their students performed without audience members due to the pandemic.

More information can be found on the studio’s website:

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