Dance the Bay – Learn about this excellent outreach program in the Bay Area.
Changing Models Changing Systems – Co-‐President Beth Megill shares her reflections on trying something new.
We did it!!
Your letters made the difference. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a letter in support of SB 725. The Senate Education Committee took a vote, and it passed unanimously! It will now move onto Appropriations. The passage of this bill through our state government means that the arts standards in California will be reviewed and revised. The reverberations of such a revision will include: increased awareness of the arts by the Cal legislators, a stronger footing for qualified dance instructors who are credentialed in dance as a single subject, and improved arts delivery to our students in k-‐12! Thanks to Nor Cal President Jessy Kronenberg for representing dance on this essential measure!
On Behalf of CDEA, Beth Megill (SoCal President)
Dance as an Inspiration
My Experience with Dance the Bay
by Maansi Shah
I began learning dance at age 5, and under my teachers’ guidance, we were not allowed to even drink water for the duration of the class. Discipline was strict, and the structure rigid, but within that structure, I found that dance offered a freedom of expression and movement. It was with the intent of sharing this freedom and joy that I joined Dance the Bay.
The first day of class at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Oakland, I went into the room with the expectation that this would be similar to dance classes that I had attended as a child. The kids, however, had other ideas. I at first resisted what seemed to me to be a failing of sorts, a lack of leadership and authority.
However, once I managed to calm the chaos, I realized that dance was about more than technique, an idea that took getting used to. Over time, however, I grew to appreciate the open space that this created; it allowed dance to be purely for fun. The classes allowed me to learn about teaching, about myself, and about dance, fueling my passion for the art form.
Founded by UC Berkeley students Elissa Lee, Rishi Sinha, and Connie Shao, Dance the Bay came together under one unified belief: dance should be accessible to everyone. We believe in the power of dance to inspire, uplift and bring joy to individuals and communities.
Last fall, I joined this budding organization, as a teacher for its Ignite program. Ignite strives to make dance available for youth by providing dance at preschools and after school programs. We teach hip-hop, contemporary, yoga, and creative movement, all the while emphasizing dance as an outlet for creativity and selfexpression.
Dance the Bay, however, extends beyond the teaching in Ignite. The organization seeks to simultaneously be a structured body and an open and inviting space to voice ideas and think creatively about the role that dance plays in the community.
Dance the Bay Illuminate seeks to draw from the vibrant dance community at UC Berkeley and in the Bay Area to bring dance to communities with limited access to the arts. These monthly classes and/or performances will take place in senior homes, homeless shelters, and children’s hospitals and will provide the opportunity for students to engage in performance opportunity, teaching experience, and service learning.
Additionally, Dance the Bay Inspire collects stories about arts and dance education and its impact on people’s lives, striving to inspire others to do the same. Inspire is the culmination of many of our artistic director’s passions – writing, dance, and people.
Dance the Bay is a burgeoning organization that is in the process of inventing itself. The roles within it are being defined, the core of the organization is slowly cementing. As a new organization, Dance the Bay is flexible, adaptable, and open to inspiration. As we seek to inspire, we seek also to be inspired.
Changing Models Changing Systems
Old Grooves and New Thinking
by Beth Megill
This past year I have been working on a large dance literacy project for my sabbatical. The process has been fascinating, invigorating, perplexing, empowering and rewarding. I have had a chance to ask the big questions about my teaching, about the art of dance, about teaching the art of dance and about the meaning of learning. I have discovered where my own training has influenced my practices and where my trial and error approaches have guided me as well. One of the biggest ideas I have pondered revolves around the idea of modeling.
I have adopted teaching methods from a variety of sources some consciously and some unconsciously. Coming from a household in which my dad was a music professor, I see a lot of my dad in the way I teach and the why of my teaching. I also have strong practices from my early ballet training, which have shaped my ideas of technique, musicality and expression. But, regardless of the source of these acquisitions, they are above all acquisitions. They were practices modeled to me by my teachers. They were gifts.
Now I find myself at a place interested in going beyond my models. I see a new horizon for teaching dance and making meaning in dance that I have not been modeled to me previously, and I have learned that while it is exciting to be on the edge, it is also scary. When we push ourselves to try new things we are abandoning our safety net. We are willingly cutting the ropes from former experience out of a desire to try something new. We don’t know what will happen we don’t know what it will look like.
To be fair, I should mention that I have always been curious. I have always questioned the status quo and have always had a passion for innovation. But, I am now much more aware of what it means not only to change a way of teaching, but to also change one’s thinking behind how and why one teaches. Dance literacy and the questions surrounding the practices of reading and writing dance notation has launched me out of the nest. I see now how my previous innovations were explorations yes, but they were merely explorations within the same paradigm. In shifting to a new paradigm, I no longer have the same models. In some cases I have no models, and I find myself creating (or even becoming) the model. How do I want to do things? How do I want my students to experience learning and dancing, learning about dance, learning through dance, learning because of dance?
Our brains can be likened to sledding. The first time we go down the hill, we have to forge a path; it is rough, and it can be challenging. We get stuck. We fall over. We end sweaty and out of breath and perhaps even wondering if we should just go home and have some hot chocolate. But, we try again, and the second time we go down the path, it is a little smoother and each time after that it is easier and easier until we are flying down the hill without even thinking. It is such a joy to sail down this familiar pathway! We know every curve around every tree. We know the bumps, and we know the flow. But, at some point we become aware of another side of the mountain, a different slope with different trees and different rises and falls. Now we have a harder choice. Do we do all of the work needed to forge a new path? We already did it once, and we have such a nice time with our current path. It feels good. It feels familiar. It feels like home. This moment of decided to change is the most crucial in any learning and re-‐patterning process in our brains. We first need to decide we want to make chance, and the decision is not just an intellectual one. We must feel deeply in our bones that it is worth the effort to make change.
As I develop my learning materials, I find myself giddy with excitement over a new score or literacy lesson. The journey down the hill can be fun as we discover new spaces and places. And, half way down the hill we stop to catch our breath and look back at the path behind us, our messy first run. We wonder who will see the path and decided to try it out.
We are all role models. Each decision, each question, and each answer matters. We have a chance to try something new and experience change with our students. What experience do we want to offer them? And how are we training them to forge their own paths.