Performing arts studio allows students to stretch their ambitions

Ambitions Performing Arts studio in Colfax thrives with all ages of performers
By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Ambitions Performing Arts

  • Where: Sierra Vista Community Center, Studio 3, 55 School St., Colfax
  • What: Performing arts studio for performers of all genres and abilities
  • Info:


Auditions for Christmas show

Each year, Jessica Shefty, owner and director of Ambitions Performing Arts, writes and directs an original Christmas-themed musical for her students to perform. All who audition will be given a part.

  • When: Noon-4 p.m. Aug. 26
  • Where: Sierra Vista Community Center, Studio 3, 55 School St., Colfax
  • Who: Ages 3-adult are invited to audition for a range of available parts including actors, dancers, singers, costume designers, stage hands and more. All are welcome to prepare a song or monologue, but it is not necessary.
  • Info: Call or text Miss Jess, 916-889-2949 or check for updates

In Colfax, one performing arts studio is helping students of all ages to nourish their artistic ambition and continue their passion and creativity alive for art.

Jessica Shefty, owner and director of Ambitions Performing Arts has been dancing for 25 years. Shefty is Colfax resident and a mom. She homeschools her 7-year-old son, Antonio, who also does tap dancing and sings. Before Antonio was born, Shefty was a dance teacher, assistant director and manager of 14 studios throughout the area with 22 classes per week. She has also worked at Placer High School as co-captain and captain of the dance team, and at E.V. Cain, Bowman, as the dance team coach.

In early 2015, Shefty started teaching private classes in a garage in El Dorado Hills for a few high school students. When those students graduated from high school and moved on to college, Shefty realized she really missed teaching those classes.

Thus, Ambitions Performing Arts was born.

After Shefty posed a question on an Auburn website, Colfax Theater owner Donna Dion reached out and offered Shefty a space in the theater. She decided to try it, and on the first day of class Nov. 14, 2015, 30 students were waiting to learn.

Shefty began teaching classes in three disciplines: ballet, tap and hip hop. She has since expanded with classes for ages ranging from 18 months to “vintage” with jazz, musical theater, a percussion program taught by her sister and a burlesque program for adults.

When class sizes became too large, she moved her studio to the Sierra Vista Community Center, in Studio 3.

The studio now offers up to six days of classes each week. And, added Shefty, if there is a group of five or more students who would like to open a class in a particular dance style, Shefty happily complies.

Shefty said some of her students are shy or have special needs. She recalls one student who told her, “I will never dance for you.” But when his brother was auditioning for a show, he quietly auditioned and Shefty wrote a part for him. The boy proceeded to push back and told Shefty that he would come to rehearsals, but was not interested in going on stage. Then he saw the costumes. … By the final show, Shefty boasted that not only did he dance, but the young boy knew his part the best and spoke clearly on stage. “Now he’s always interested in what’s next,” Shefty said.

She said at her studio, Shefty encourages students to accomplish goals and succeed, but only as far as they are willing.

“We push our students as far as flexibility goes,” Shefty said.

When a student masters the splits, they get a banana split gift certificate from Scoops to reward them for their dedication. Shefty said the most rewarding part about teaching is watching her students grow in any way they can. Whether it’s a child improving their social skills or an adult who needs a confidence boost, she aims to help them along the way while they maintain the love of the art.

MJ Crown Academy

In addition to teaching dance classes and managing her studio, Shefty also offers a personalized pageant coaching program for contestants of all ages and competitions. MJ Crown Academy provides person coaching, digital coaching, interview prep, outfit coordination, talent choreography, portfolio management and more.

“Pageantry has gotten a bad rap,” Shefty said. “But it’s so amazing to see the growth of these girls. They have confidence to represent our little tiny town with a huge heart and big personality.”

Shefty started with one client, Iyana Vang, who, in less than two years, has taken more than 20 titles including Little Miss Auburn and represented Auburn at state level. Vang just turned 6 years old and recently spent a week in Arkansas doing model training, interview training and performed on a national stage as opening entertainment.

“She’s really excelling,” Shefty said.

Another client of MJ Crown Academy is Miss Auburn Malea Boggess.

“We teach them how to walk, how to model, interview and serve the community,” Shefty said.

She said in addition to performing on stage, her girls do promotional events for new businesses, ribbon cuttings and fundraisers for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease research.

“These girls have golden hearts and work really hard,” Shefty said.

During the month of July, Ambitions Performing Arts studio hosted a theater camp for five days. Kids learned how to audition, take a head shot, do a table read, block a script, take directions and count music. At the end of the month they performed a mini show for their families and friends.

Shefty’s dancers have performed at many local events, including the annual 3rd of July celebration. Shefty also writes two musicals per year that her studio performs. Last year, Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Barker learned the Cupid Shuffle as he danced with the kids.

Shefty said she loves to see the community get involved and help these young performers develop their talents and passions.

“We find any student’s ambitions and kind of cater to them,” Shefty said. “Since we’re in a small community we can totally do that.”