Dance and Dialogue – Ricka Kelsch talks workshops in middle school.
Dance Advocacy Day – Kristin Kusanovich takes San Fran by storm to wake up advocates everywhere.
Repeatability – Cabrillo College lead a repeatability session at CFT Convention.
The Strides from March
I am very pleased to share a number of tremendous events that occurred in March. Our NorCal President Jessy Kronenberg has been working diligently with the four state arts organizations and a state senator Lori Hancock to sponsor a new bill (SB 725) that will update our state visual and performing arts (VAPA) standards to align with the new National Core Arts Standards. This could set the wheels in motion for greater change and state support of dance programs at all levels, while reinforcing the importance of dance in education in our legislation. Everyone needs to send a letter of support for this bill to get traction at the state level. In addition, we have news from Kristin Kusanovich (NorCal President Elect) on the Dance Advocacy Day in San Francisco, and I report on an intersegmental meeting held at CSU Long Beach during ACDA. Change is in the air, and we are a part of it! Congratulations!
On Behalf of CDEA, Beth Megill (SoCal President)
Dance and Dialogue
by Ricka Kelsch
Dance and Dialogue, a day long dance workshop for middle school dance students, was held this year on Saturday, February 28th at the Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts. The day was an amazing and inspirational experience full of gifts for160 kids, all of whom attended free of charge. The workshop is the creation of Ricka Kelsch, choreographer and middle school dance teacher for more than 20 years, who wanted to find a way to bring together kids from all the diverse communities that make up the city they live in with the goal she expressed in the motto for the event: “breakin’ barriers – makin’ connections.” Under Ricka’s joyful guidance, the day began with a sign-in welcome which put the kids into their first gift of the day and brought the day’s first smiles – a t-shirt with a color theme that put them on different “color teams,” mixing kids from different schools together.
With their team, the kids’ next wonderful experience was attending the Council meetings. Much in the tradition of Native Americans, and under the watchful eye of a trained councilor, they passed the talking stick and shared their experiences and learned from each other what they had in common and where they were different. The kids came together as strangers, but they left these meetings with what Ricka hoped for as the day’s next gift – with their hearts more open to understanding of themselves and of those who had been strangers.
For the rest of the day, those opened hearts brought the kids a new experience in dance, yet another gift. In the dance classes, communication, as much as technique, was the goal of the very special teachers whom Ricka brought to the workshop: the kids learned about Afro-Brazilian capoeira “challenge dance,” where making mental connection with your partner is key; from a deaf instructor they learned the sign movements to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” dancing so movingly that it brought all the adults observing to tears; in the Salsa class they learned the richness of a dance tradition made up of many cultural threads.
Along with all those gifts, there was also a break for a great pizza and salad lunch shared with new friends and old, and breaks for snacks and drinks throughout the day.
At the end of the day, in a community assembly, Ricka movingly made the point which brought the whole experience into focus: having learned to dance with an open heart and find a new understanding of the art they loved, the kids could look to their art as a way of reaching out to their communities and make a difference in the lives of others. In giving her a rousing cheer, they clearly saw that was exactly what Ricka had done.
Walking the Walk
Dance Advocacy Day 2015 in San Francisco
by Kristin Kusanovich
As movement instructors we have all at some point begun a locomotion sequences or an across the floor portion of a class with walking. Walking exercises and variations are fundamental to dance because they represent the core experience that ties all dance together: weight shift. Recently, eight dancers engaged in a different kind of walking exercise that led us through architecture and urban spaces of San Francisco on the way to oval tables in board rooms of elected officials. The Dance Advocacy Walk, we can call it.
I was pleased to represent California Dance Education Association as Nor. Cal President-Elect for the Dancers’ Group advocacy efforts on March 24, 2015 in tandem with National Arts Advocacy Day happening in Washington D.C. Michelle Lynn Reynolds, Program Director of Dancers’ Group of San Francisco, and her wonderful interns organized the afternoon walking and bus tour to government offices. Eight of us met to create an ensemble that would plan while we were piling into elevators, strategize while stepping off curbs, and get to know each other and get caught up on each other’s lives as we traversed several sunny blocks in San Francisco over the course of an afternoon.
Dancers’ Group has done this for a few years now – creating a local parallel to the national highprofile arts advocacy events on D.C. Their office compiled briefs for us and for the staffers we would visit by culling through the national arts advocacy day materials, creating summaries of arts advocacy talking points, tactics and issues. In essence, this organization that is a leader in all things dance in the Bay Area, set us up for success in our mission to communicate the importance of dance in our communities, cultures, schools and society. We met for a planning session prior to walking to get briefed on each office we would visit and choose the most relevant points to highlight given the different roles the leaders play. We visited the offices of CA Assembly Member, David Chiu; Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; and, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Of course one does not meet with the actual Senator Feinstein to talk arts just because it is a National Advocacy Day; Senator Feinstein is rarely in San Francisco this time of year because of the extended work schedules of Senators in Washington D.C. Nor is Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi just waiting at her desk to talk to dance professionals and other any other hard-working folks with agendas. Professional and welleducated staffers met with us in each case to listen, ask questions, take notes with the understanding that salient points and issues that seem relevant or connected to their office’s concerns would be brought back to their respective Assembly Member, Congressperson or Senator.
Though I have participated for years in on-line advocacy efforts, letter writing and calls to representatives, and, although I teach modules on advocacy in the arts as a university professor, I had never literally walked from one government building to another with a group of artists with issue briefs tucked in our dancers’ bags and jazz shoes dangling from our shoulders, going through metal detectors to make it to appointments with our city’s and state’s leaders. That in itself was eye opening and made the world of advocacy much more tangible.
I am always telling my students that ‘networking,’ which seems like an elusive and mysterious concept to many undergraduates, is just building relationships. I now know, because I experienced it kinesthetically, that ‘advocating’ in person happens by walking or riding the bus to a place, having an appointment, of course, and starting to talk. That was a revelation and made me ever more grateful that our democratic society allows for the sharing of opinions by regular people with staffers representing our elected officials.
The staffers in each case willingly took the advocacy briefs handed to them, thankful for the information on an arena of life that they were not necessarily aware of or educated about. In fact, I did not anticipate that such personal connections might be made with staffers over the way dance infuses value, meaning and purpose into so many of society’s endeavors and how it works in harmony with their other major concerns for the public good, education, thriving and positively focused children and youth and strong arts and culture economies in their cities. You could feel the weight of the ideas we put forward as a group spark their imaginations and intellectual curiosity. Perhaps there was an internal weight shift happening on the part of these intelligent and capable young professionals as their understanding of dance’s role in society came into the limelight, taking the focus of that government office staffer for the 30 minute period of our planned visits.
The receptivity of these young professionals in each of these offices was remarkable. I was left with a lasting impression of an inspired and energetic exchange that happens when eight dancers from all walks of life, each representing diverse genres, programs, and scopes of activity, come together to gather our thoughts and just share the floor of public discourse.
What was said? We talked at length about the importance of the NEA funding as leverage for contributions that outnumber NEA dollars 9:1. We talked about the Arts in Education Program at the U.S. Department of Education. Members of our group talked about their own organizations, missions and angles through which they enliven dance for different populations. One young intern said he was there to learn about how advocacy works but was eloquent every time he spoke about dance. Every word was not captured. However, I wrote a reflection in the form of a poetic dialogue on the essence of my experience. The italicized parts represent not so much what the staffers said, but what anyone in their shoes whose office is invaded by eight smiling people with good posture and lots of polite enthusiasm might think.
Yes, dance. There are 800 dance organizations not counting individuals and presenters in the Bay Area alone.
By the way, the more we support dance the better the good and the more funding the more good.
Name a problem. Consider how dance partners in the solving of that problem. Health. Yes, dance to improve health and diminish health care costs.
Schools not reaching at-risk youth.
Yes, dance to empower and give outlets for expression.
Yes, dance to help survivors reclaim selves as whole beings.
Yes, dance to be visible, public, in people’s faces and spaces and make us think.
Psychological disorders/ trauma
Yes, dance to delve into our stories and reckon with our diminished ability to trust and build relationships.
Learning or physical disabilities
Yes, dance to help create welcoming, creative, inclusive environments for differently-abled people
Absorption of immigrants into community fabric.
Yes, dance to honor traditions, reclaim heritage and learn about others’ heritages.
That much dance sounds good.
Yes more dance can do more of all that.
The feeling of advocacy is like the feeling one gets after a good walk. You feel productive, connected, contributing and hopeful. It is a great activity to engage in as much as it can seem hard to carve out the time. As a member of California Dance Educators’ Association you are kept informed of the latest key advocacy issues, and letter writing campaigns and legislative actions affecting the fabric of your dance communities. I hope this brief reflection inspires you to consider in what ways advocacy can fit into your life and how some of it all begins with a simple walking exercise. What a positive experience it was to meet with people who exhibited a gracious openness to learning more about what you all do in your brilliant dance education and performance.
CDEA Co-sponsors a Senate Bill for New VAPA Standards
Letter Campaign In Action Now!
by Jessy Kronenberg
The time has come for new Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards in California. Current state VAPA standards were set in 2001 and in these past 14 years we all know that things have changed in education at the state and federal levels. There have been significant changes in policy priorities, instructional practices, educational resources, and technology. An update for the VAPA standards is clearly overdue.
In response, CMEA (California Music Education Association) has sponsored a state senate bill that calls for modernization of these standards. CDEA, and our state-level counterparts in Visual Arts and Theater (CAEA, CETA, ETA, and DTASC), are co-sponsors of this bill. On February 27, Senator Loni Hancock introduced this legislation. Senator Hancock represents Senate District 9 covering cities in Contra Costa and Alameda counties. We are fortunate to have Senator Hancock carrying this bill; she has been a champion for education in California for decades and currently chairs the Select Committee on Workforce Development, School Environment, and Student Wellness.
CDEA is ecstatic to be a part of this important legislative process! One of the most significant elements of the bill for Dance Education is that it calls for the National Core Arts Standards to be a basis for deliberations on new VAPA standards for the state. NCAS, launched in June 2014, are designed to help arts educators provide the high-quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment that students need to succeed in today’s schools and tomorrow’s careers. It can be argued that the NCAS framework for Dance is the most comprehensive guide for Dance Education to date.
The bill, known as SB 725 (Hancock), requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a panel of experts, including credentialed teachers, to recommend new VAPA standards to the State Board. The standards are to be adopted no later than June 30, 2017.
Starting immediately CDEA needs all members to reach out to their networks to contact the Senate Education Committee with letters of support for this bill. We need letters from organizations, individual members, parents, students, etc. Passage of SB 725 represents one step closer to high-quality dance education for all of California’s school children. Faxing or mailing the committee is best—please avoid email if possible.
Fax: (916) 445-7799
Honorable Carol Liu
Chair, Senate Education Committee
State Capitol, Room 2083
Sacramento, CA 95814
CDEA will be sending out a form letter that can be modified for various groups. Keep your eye on your inbox! Thanks for your efforts to help get this important legislation passed! See below for resources related to this article.
Intersegmental Meeting at CSU Long Beach
by Beth Megill
ACDA Festival is a great opportunity for dance faculty to connect and revive as artists and teachers, sharing our stories and our challenges while celebrating our students in classes and performances. But, as tough times have descended on dance in California, these festivals have also become opportunities for dance faculty to meet and share vital information on the more political aspects of keeping our programs strong. Kathryn Milostan Egus and I hosted the meeting for community college and four year dance faculty to meet and talk essential issues of transfer, repeatability, accountability, representation, and opportunity.
The emergent theme of the day was visibility and accountability. Specifically we discussed the importance of accurate data for our field so we can more precisely represent our activities and our constituents. Coding systems for the state and national levels vary from sector to sector, in other words, k-12 coding does not match community college coding, which does not match the four year coding systems. This lack of continuity is one aspect that is troublesome when we are trying to account for our presence, but the bigger issue at hand is the extreme inaccuracy of many of the coding systems. For example, the community college system codes dance into two sections. The first code is for Dance (1008.00) and includes technique, composition and choreography of dance. The second coding option is Commercial Dance (1008.10) and is intended for use in Career and Technology Education programs (CTE programs) and covers courses that apply specifically to occupational applications. There is currently no coding option for dance history, dance studies, anthropology, dance medicine or dance and media. The result of this oversimplified coding system is that the scope of dance is not fully represented at the state level, which then results in smaller numbers and weaker representation.
Another interesting discussion surfaced in regard to the elusive Transfer Model Curriculum and the AA degree for transfer. I shared information on the state Course Identification system (C-ID) and how it is intended to streamline transfer as schools choose to align their individual courses (including course content and unit value) with the approved CIDs. Other disciplines (including the other performing arts disciplines) have all established their C-ID systems. The creation of C-IDs allows for transfer degrees to be formed that guarantee student transfer from a CC to a CSU. The benefits of dance not yet being asked to create C-IDs include a continued freedom in individual programs to select unit values and content for their course work. However, this freedom comes at the cost of dance students not having a streamlined transfer guarantee. Students are under considerable pressure to choose the fastest way through their college careers. A guarantee in the form of a transfer degree is enticing and may be pulling students away from selecting dance as their major when they would be guaranteed transfer in most anything else. The transfer process from a state perspective seemed like new information to many of the attendees and was greatly appreciated as it empowered the group with much needed information. The meeting closed with people joining advocacy groups of interest for further action.
Now more than ever is the time to promote stronger Intersegmental relationships between two-year and four-year institutions. State legislation has affected both types of institutions and is pushing for stronger and more streamlined connections to facilitate student transfers. Come to get updates on relevant issues and be apart of meaningful discussions to develop new action plans.
- Overview and Plan for the Meeting
- Overview of Topics and Issues/ Solution Planning
- Investigation and Advisory Teams
- Set Meeting Date for Late May/ June
- Current Status: How are curriculum issues impacting you?
- Accountability Legislation (fitting dance into accountability systems) Visibility is power!
- Single Subject Dance Credential – CDEA update
- How the numbers of majors are counted – inaccurate data
- Dance Majors (counted)
- Double majors (not counted if dance is listed 2nd)
- Dance- related majors – Dance as an interdisciplinary Art (not counted) Counselor recommendations – educational plan effects (importance in declaring a major upon registration)
- Dance Classifications
- Need for accurate accounting of dance courses, programs, offerings (as they are coded by the state). Inaccurate data compilation leads to an inability to justify our work – We need new ways to accumulate accurate data about those we serve.
- New TOP/CIP codes for dance need to be developed to more accurately reflect diversity in areas of dance study
- CTE (Career and Technical Education) development –Commercial dance programs, pilates/somatics, other?
- Types of degrees – Developing non-performance degrees at four year institutions– acceptance by means of scholarship for certain degrees (rather than audition) – Dance science/movement therapy arts – Dance history or critical issues in dance
- AA Degrees – AA degrees must now align 51% with program requirements of a single CSU
- Degree categories – Assist.org
- Articulation – processes
- TMC – AA-T – development
- The resultant effect of inaccurate counting has been delays in being considered for TMC development
- Possible Action/ Process – Task force – Organize team of 6 (3 CC and 3 CSU) to design a Transfer Model Curriculum. So we can gain a sleeker pathway for dance students to get to CSUs as a dance major.
- Aligning ourselves with supportive organizations to enhance our credibility with the state.
- CDEA/ NDEO- state and national dance organization have members on various state and national committees to represent dance in all discussions
- California Arts Project – Tends to work with k-12 but is key for us to understand intersegmental curricular design
- CREATE California- a group of people who have been working toward the credential.
- DACCC- not formalized, but a seedling idea for CC dance programs that could work with the Music counterpart MACCC which deals with similar issues
- Lobbyist Needs
- Impact of legislation on the field
- Modification of processes for accountability reports
- Obtaining more reliable data
- Repeatability – some limited exceptions/fitting into the mold of other fields
Current Thinking and Talking Points
We need to expand our thoughts and language to include the many viable fields of dance and dance relate-fields: dance therapy, dance and technology, dance critics, scholars, researchers. It is also essential to include dance/movement science practitioners as part of the field of dance as well as other the interdisciplinary field like multimedia and arts administration. (Put some of these areas in the “other” field of the survey.)
California Federation of Teachers Voices Issue of Repeatability at Conference
by Bonnie Lavin
When given a forum to talk about broader access to education, pertaining to cultural equity, marginalized students and community members sound like this…
Not being able to take my dance class more than once has limited me as a student who is trying to expand my interests, become more involved in my new community, and acquire knowledge and skills for development.
I need better skills to improve my own education. For me having the opportunity to repeat a course is a chance to strengthen my knowledge, to improve my social skills and for sure to have a huge probability to learn what the teacher of a subject new to me is teaching.
As a second language learner, having this chance – to repeat a course in which my grade was lower than the required grade needed for my transfer- is essential to my own progress to continue studies in a higher level education.
I understand that the system leaders are trying to save money, when passing this mandate, but why cut opportunity from students who come to emerge to a new community? I am talking about students who come from different countries (second language learners) and who try to fit in this new world of education and learning. I join myself in this group, foreign students, because it has been very useful repeating a subject, doing this I realized I needed to take different classes before continuing my studies, I also learned that it is essential to have a good communication with classmates and teachers as well, and then you can achieve greater success.
For my own opinion and because of my experience, I have repeated a subject that has served as a guide more effective than going to the counselors. Taking performing arts, music and dance courses has made a very hard impact in my entire life because I have been having the opportunity to know people here in the US and because I had the opportunity to develop myself as a human being who can deal better with the new community in which I am involved. Also much of my fears to speak in public has dissolved. These are some of the reasons why I wish and hope that the senate committee on higher education would revisit repeatability.
Clearly words such as these, from the source, resonate more authentically on a theme (The issue of Repeatability in Community Colleges) than any attempt made by a teacher, trying to explain the importance of such an issue.
That said, CDEA is asking you who are engaged in arts education to answer the call to advocate for change. Please join us, as we are experiencing a rejuvenation in our advocacy efforts, making an impact across the state with our initiatives from K-12 and Higher Ed. Download our form letters to update the arts standards, write to your legislators, voice your support for these important issues. Draft letters of your own, utilizing your imagination and your student’s testimonials to affect change in dance education. The time for cultural equity and arts integration in education is here. I am sure that every one of my colleagues, teaching within a community college, in areas such as performing arts, language, or CTE has experienced a dialogue/scenario with their students similar to the one shared above. This dialogue is what compelled me to attend the CFT conference in Manhattan Beach on March 20.
I went to the conference specifically to sit in on a presentation by the CCFT (Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers) on the issue of Repeatability in Community Colleges. This group, the CCFT, has been, hands down, the inspirational leader in the fight to re-visit this issue in the upcoming Senate Committee on Education meeting this April. The repeatability initiative (passed in the Fall of 2013) was perhaps a necessary mandate at the time when our State was immersed in the reality of scarcity. The recession forced legislators to manage enrollments and access to affordable education at the glutted community colleges in California. But now, with an emerging economy and voter approved funding through Prop 30, repeatability in community colleges seems desperately unfair, targeting marginalized communities. It deserves another look!! It would be redundant of me to try and frame this issue more appropriately or eloquently than the CCFT does in their article. I urge CDEA educator/members to visit the CDEA website for the framework and for updates on this issue.
Much has occurred and is continuing to occur within this political area for higher education. It is important that as dance educators, we exercise our intelligence and power to assure that cultural values, policies, and practices required to achieve and sustain cultural equity are foundational to our institutions of higher learning.