Regional Meeting Reports – Amber McCall and Beth Megill share personal notes on their respective meetings.
CDEA Scholarship Update – Gina Bolles Sorenson of San Diego shares her experience as a scholarship recipients at the last NDEO conference.
Go deeply into the arts – Article by Bonnie Lavin on how we artists must stick together.
CDEA for 2014
Election results are in and we have a full Executive Board! Thank you to everyone for casting your vote and showing your support of both returning and newly elected leaders. This year we have big opportunities for dance advocacy happening on all levels. The state of California is mobilizing as we speak and we plan to keep CDEA and our arts education ideals at the forefront of the discussions. But, we can’t do it without your help. We are currently seeking venue coordinators for both Northern and Southern California Regional Day Conferences on April 5th! You would be serving the entire statewide community by getting involved and offering your help as we battement our way into advocacy at the state level. In addition, CDEA has a huge need for people to draft white papers in support of continued dance education in public schools and community colleges. Please offer your time and skill to help us draft these important documents.
Together we dance, Beth Megill
CDEA Regional Meetings Report
Northern and Southern regional meetings experiment with video conferencing with great result!
The good news?
CDEA is coming alive.
The number of active members is increasing and new faces are joining (and in some cases) rejoining our ranks! We are growing, and with our growth, we feel not only a renewed clarity in our mission to support, promote and improve dance education across the state, but we also feel a resurgence in our commitment to the efforts of change.
The past few years have been hard on all of the arts. Budgets shrunk, numbers flattened and offerings were cut. Many attendees expressed the distinct stresses of our current situation. But, beyond the concerns, the regional meetings reflected the hope and solidarity we feel when we come together, share our stories and remind each other just how important what we do is to our students and our communities.
A few of the big issues that came up at the meeting included:
The progress being made 3 toward a single subject dance credential for the public school system.
The challenges facing community college dance programs that are struggling due to recent changes in curriculum repeatability and other systemic shifts.
The available room for growth in our chapters of the National Honors Society of Dance Association both at secondary and post-secondary levels.
CDEA sends Dance Educators to NDEO conference!
CDEA awarded three scholarships to help support our dance teachers make their way to the last NDEO conference in Miami. Gina Bolles Sorenson was one of the recipients and talks here of her rewarding experience.
by Gina Bolles Sorenson
I am deeply thankful for the CDEA’s scholarship to attend the 2013 NDEO conference in Miami. As a part-time lecturer at a 4-year university, a part-time lecturer at a community college, and a part-time teaching artist and choreographer in a performing arts high school, I am under constant pressure to design curriculum and prep lessons for many classes and populations simultaneously. This was my first NDEO conference, and it sure delivered on its promise. I got exactly what I went to Miami to get: creative rejuvenation.
The conference sessions were led by inspiring teachers who were willing to share both successes and challenges they have experienced in their own classrooms. I walked away with new inspiration, updated priorities, concrete exercises and assignments to incorporate into my classes, and numerous resources to stay inspired all year long. Perhaps most valuable of all was the opportunity to network with so many outstanding educators. It was a pleasure to engage in both formal discourse and casual conversation with teachers from around the country. It was especially exciting to rub elbows with several of my academic heroes – educators who wrote the books that I pull off my personal library shelves as I plan classes and consider what my students need to know to become successful in our field.
I was also thrilled to meet the leadership and members of the CDEA at a special California and Arizona breakfast. I am so glad to be plugged into a community of nearby movers and shakers. I look forward to seeing all of my new friends again at next year’s conference!
CDEA So-Cal Regional Meeting Report
by Beth Megill
Members gathered at American Jewish University, Brandeis–Bardin Campus near Simi Valley. We shared introductions and ideas over bagels and coffee before we video conferenced between the Northern and Southern gatherings.
Seeing a room full of dance educators (even via a computer screen) was a new and special event for the CDEA. One of the former challenges of the organization has been the length of the state and the challenge for us to connect as a whole. But the video conference option worked beautifully to overcome this, while planting new seeds for video conferencing between constituents in the future.
After passionate discussion on the myriad issues, it was the general consensus that we are on the right track, but are still in need of a broader base of active constituents who know what CDEA can offer them.
The next steps include:
- Finalize CDEA election results
- Market the Regional CDEA day conferences on April 5th
- Plan for the fall National conference in Chicago
In the meantime, we will continue pursuing our single subject credential in dance; we will continue supporting the community college dance programs in their navigation toward sustainable programs; and, we will keep our eyes and ears open for other issues that need our attention and effort.
CDEA Nor-Cal Regional Meeting Report
by Amber McCall
The Northern California members gathered at San Jose City College to get updates from the national conference, discuss pressing issues for California dance educators, and gain insight into preparing a conference proposal.
The meeting created an environment for Bay Area dance educators to both share information and build community.
I found the meeting to be energizing and informative. It was so nice to sit face to face with others who are working towards the same goals and dealing with similar struggles. We were able to share in our successes and gain support in moving past the obstacles we face.
It was also great to have arts enthusiasts attend from outside the organization. Alex Randall, who is currently a fellow with Emerging Arts Professionals – Bay Area, said after attending the meeting, “I had the pleasure of spending this afternoon with the California Dance Education Association, who is doing some very important work to retain a place for the arts in public education.”
One of the biggest challenges for CDEA right now is attracting new members and getting current members to be more involved. The organization is doing important work to move the field of dance education forward.
My hope for the next regional meeting on April 5th is to see fifty or more CDEA members in the same room. Let’s work together and make our voices heard across the state!
Bonnie Lavin on Getting Involved
by Bonnie Lavin
“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making a life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” -Kurt Vonnegut
An alumnus of mine, named Ashley, recently posted the quote above on my Facebook page! As I was read it, a shift happened for me. My energy changed. The weight I was feeling across my shoulders and neck, knowing that I was about to boot up my “MAC” machine to begin my daily slog of checking e-mails, calendar alerts, and attempts to write my second semester syllabi lifted. In reading Ashley’s quote, I thought about her fresh new energy bursting onto the educational, Los Angeles dance/arts scene having just relocated from Washington, DC. It made me smile. She had danced in my high school program often, assisting me as a dance captain for a number of musicals at the private school. She recently received her MA in arts integration at N.Y.U. and is now married.
Since arriving she has struggled along with the best of us, trying to figure out how to break into the LA dance and arts scene both professionally and personally! LA is an awesome city, but it is also a sprawling desert turned into a land of dessert, existing in dazzling brilliance minus a center or focal point. Imagine a dancer without a center… and no focal point.
I was asked recently by my CDEA president Beth Megill to write a personal piece for CDEA News, sharing the reasons why I stepped up to volunteer in the organization in 2012.
I nominated myself for an open executive board position, as secretary because CDEA needed fuller representation on their board to maintain quorum. Continued progress and advocacy efforts as a nonprofit required it.
Ashley’s story dropped into my head as I was prompted by Beth to submit something. It seemed the best way for me to try and explain my reasons for volunteering. As a dance educator, or perhaps even a dance artist working in LA, whether freelancing or dabbling in arts integration, whether as part of an institution or a private community sector. LA is a damned-intense, super-sprawled out, and sometimes-lonely-city in which to teach, work, and dance. With no city hub, newcomers have a minimal safety net upon entering. The mega-sprawl and countless freeways can translate into a few face-to-face social networks.
Dancers, thrive in herds. We are the ones who love to fall into rhythm with others, keeping time and carving out pathways in and around lots of arms, legs, and torsos. We endure twenty-minute commutes, or even hour long commute, to seek out the nearest master class, dance community or event. So, loneliness often comes as a by-product of maintaining one’s gas budget! Have I built my case? Let’s see if I can culminate Ashley’s story into my volunteerism with CDEA.
I fortunately connected to my lovely alum, Ashley via a simple twist of fate. We found each other having lunch in the same cafe in the valley one sunny late August day. We immediately set up a lunch date, during which time she was able to update me on her accomplishments, struggles, goals, and experiences. Since moving home, she was desperately in need of information, of brainstorming ways and means to succeed, to dance, to teach, and to become credentialed to teach in this crazy state. I was able to give her updates on the good work being done (in advocacy) by CDEA constituents on achieving a dance credential in California. I shared CDEA/NDEO resources and connections with her. She was comforted to know that she could sit round table with educators like herself and dialogue the woes and highs of her profession. Just like Kurt Vonnegut says, GO INTO THE ARTS.
Volunteering with this organization has offered me a way to reach out to others in my field for professional support and community, for creativity and ideas. But, in particular for me, it serves as a means to give back. I have lived a long and fruitful dance career and life as an educator and artist, in California, it is truly rewarding to think that I may have assisted a young self-starter in the field. Ashley was comforted to know that there are others dealing with exactly her same issues. I gave her information about CDEA and other organizations such as the Dance Resource Center and Showbox L.A. for personal and professional resources and networking. We discussed how important it is to be involved in advocacy efforts in the arts.
I hope this appeals to you so that you may consider joining in! We still need leadership positions filled within our organization. We welcome you to our regional meeting coming up this April. We hope that you will blog on our site, follow us on twitter, and inquire about sharing in the work we do- you do- as we all heed Mr. Vonnegut’s advice, and go deeply into the arts!!