NDEO’s Guest Blog Series features posts written by our members about their experiences in the fields of dance and dance education. We continue this series with a post by Jessy Kronenberg & Lindsay Lindberg of the California Dance Education Association (CDEA) Credential Task Force. Guest posts reflect the experiences, opinions, and viewpoints of the author and are printed here with their permission. NDEO does not endorse any business, product, or service mentioned in guest blog posts. If you are interested in learning more about the guest blogger program or submitting an article for consideration, please click here.
Dance Education in California
California has the largest number of K-12 students in the nation, with more than 6 million students and 300,000 teachers. The enormity of the state’s population, myriad rural and urban communities, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse population make California a unique state in which to pursue dance education as a career. In a field on the brink of exciting advancements in terms of equity, earnings, and advocacy, dance education in California takes place in the home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, both hubs for great art and creativity.
Although California is the birthplace of many dance and performing arts forms, dance is not well represented in its schools, with one report citing only 2% of students in California public schools having access to dance. California is not alone in this, but serves as an important reminder of how much room we have for growth in terms of access to dance education in public schools today. California is part of the nationwide lack of high-quality dance education available for young people attending public schools. Just 12% of secondary schools provide sequential dance education in the United States, compared with 89% of secondary schools offering sequential visual arts instruction (Elpus, 2017). With the new official dance credential on the books, the future of CA dance education is bright.
History of the dance credential in California: From typo to credential
In an effort to promote professionalization in education, the Ryan Act was passed into law in California in 1970. This inadvertently excluded dance and theatre as subjects requiring discipline-specific certification in the state. The law described “music and art credentials'' rather than arts, an unbelievable typo which effectively eliminated dance and theatre from the state’s approved list of teacher certifications. In the subsequent 52 years, dance educators in California were hired to teach dance as credentialed Physical Education or Multiple Subject teachers, with no clear path towards a dance credential. After 6 failed legislative attempts and nearly five decades of persistence and advocacy, tenacious work and dogged determination, TADA! The Theatre and Dance Act passed in 2016. With unanimous bipartisan support in the state senate and assembly, TADA! was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. With the passage of TADA!, after slighting more than two generations of teachers and students, California dance educators have finally stepped into their light.
California’s first cohort begins
2020 was a difficult year of transformation for the global dance community. However, California advocates and educators continued to work tirelessly to set the stage for a thriving dance education community in the state. In 2021, the California State University East Bay campus was proud to open applications to a year-long credentialing program for dance educators. Current dance educator and CSU East Bay cohort-member Brandon Yang joined the yearly California Dance Education Association conference in February and described the program and cohort as “super supportive, very knowledgeable… as the first cohort we’re going into the unknown, [and] it’s a magical experience with all of us together.” The inaugural cohort of 16 dance educators graduates this spring, eager to serve our youth in California schools, and join the ranks of the trailblazing dance educators who have taught and currently teach dance in California schools.
Conclusion and Acknowledgements
Fall 2022 brings with it the promise of new credentialed dance educators in California. Each state has its own unique history of dance advocacy, and this accomplishment in California would not have been possible without the fearless, unending dedication to the craft of teaching, the art of dance, and the commitment to endless bureaucratic details required to make this happen. We, the dance educators working in California schools today stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Special thanks to our dance credential warriors from 1972 - 2016, especially Pat Finot, Joan Schlaich, Angela Hudson, Jacqui Lahr, Jo Ness, Judy Alter, Antoinette Marich, Judy Scalin, Susan Cambigue Tracey, Susie Whipp, Leah Bass-Bayliss, Cecelia Beam, Dr. Albirda Rose, Paige Santos, Diana Cummins, Susan McGreevy Nichols, Shana Habel, Nancy Ng, Bonnie Lavin-Hughes, Beth Megilll, Kristin Kusanovich, Ginger Fox, and Jessy Kronenberg. And to our CDEA board members past and present, and all the advocates that are to come.
California Department of Education. (2021, April 29). Fingertip Facts on Education in California. Fingertip Facts on Education in California - Accessing Educational Data. From https://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/ad/ceffingertipfacts.asp.
Elpus, K. (2017). Understanding the availability of arts education in US high schools. Retrieved June, 17, 2020. Doi:https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/Research-Art-Works-Marylan 6.pdf
Jessy Kronenberg has directed the CDEA Credential Task Force since 2018. Before that she was CDEA Co-President from 2014 - 2017. In that time she helped CDEA, in partnership with the other arts education associations and author Senator Ben Allen, to pass SB 916 - TADA! The Theater and Dance Act of 2016. In 2017, she received the NDEO Executive Director's Award in recognition of excellence in advocacy in the field of Dance Education. This past year she has guided the Credential Task Force team as they have helped to support the first cohort of teaching candidates of the Single Subject Credential in Dance at CSU East Bay. When not volunteering for CDEA, Jessy directs the Dance Program at El Cerrito High School where she has been teaching for the past 10 years. The program is a chapter of NHSDA, and this year they will induct their 99th dancer into that honor society.
Lindsay Lindberg is an educational researcher, dance educator, arts advocate, and aerialist based in Los Angeles. A graduate of UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department and NYU’s Master of Arts in Dance Education, she is passionate about bringing high quality dance education to schools in California. As a doctoral candidate at UCLA in the Urban Schooling division and current California Dance Credential Task Force team member, she studies teacher education, dance, and embodied improvisation to support the design of learning environments. She looks critically at the role of the body in both formal and informal learning spaces, and seeks to support the development of expressive, embodied pedagogies that prioritize movement and the intentional application of dance for K-12 learners and teachers in higher education. Lindsay serves as a lecturer at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University and has helped develop and implement many arts-based K-12 education projects in schools and museums including the Getty Villa, the Hammer museum, and other professional development programs in Los Angeles.