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By Eric Heinz

Ballroom dancing, children’s plays, acting classes and more are all available at San Clemente’s newest performing arts center.

Kristen Ruth
Kristen Ruth

Kristen Ruth, the owner of Conservatory of Performing Arts Orange County (COPA) in San Clemente, will host a grand opening with a talent show on Saturday, March 10. COPA has been open since June 19.

COPA offers classes for music, dance and performing arts and recently completed a production of The Wizard of Oz with a cast of children. For its first adult production, COPA is rehearsing the Broadway musical fan-favorite Cabaret.
“We’ve been able to offer a kind of one-stop shop for people to come for yoga classes and dance classes,” Ruth said, adding COPA has also hosted bridal showers and opened the space to rent for parties. “We also have a homework lounge in the front, so parents can come and, as long as their kid is enrolled in a class, let them work.”

Staff is on-site for homework help and supervision. The venue is about 5,000 square feet in the main stage and event area and holds about 150 people.

Ruth said she started COPA as a way to supplement art classes that may not be offered in public schools. She started a theater company at Las Palmas Elementary School in San Clemente and many of those students attend COPA.

A performance of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ took place recently at Conservatory of Performing Arts Orange County, which will host a talent show on Saturday, March 10. Photo: Courtesy
A performance of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ took place recently at Conservatory of Performing Arts Orange County, which will host a talent show on Saturday, March 10. Photo: Courtesy

“The arts are really important for kids these days,” Ruth said. “They have phobias and fears with public speaking, and they come here to work on those skills. I don’t know if kids are quite as prepared for (public speaking assignments) as they should be.”

There is also a glee club and a rock band that performs in-house at COPA. Private lessons are available on request.

“We have something really unique here, and there are some great acting academies around, but our place is very well-rounded,” Ruth said. “We’re trying to create a well-rounded student and get them to the next level. We’re also kind of like a family to make kids feel safe.”

COPA offers children’s classes for ages 4-17 and adults. There are trained professionals who teach all aspects of music, theater and dance in both group and private classes.

“We foster individuality and creativity as we develop and grow together. Every voice matters here,” a press release from COPA stated.

The grand opening will take place at the venue, located at 1062 Calle Negocio, Suite E. The event is free to register. In between the talent show contestants’ performances, there will be a house band playing, as well as food and drinks for purchase.

To compete in the talent competition, contestants ages 4-17 must sign up in advance by March 3. The winner of the talent show will receive 12 months of unlimited group classes at COPA.

Visit or call 949.534.2671 for more information and to register.

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