Trending

California's New Dance-Teaching Credential Is Here, But What Does It Mean for Future Educators?

Getty images

Jessy Kronenberg knew she wanted to teach high school dance when she moved back to California from North Carolina, where she'd been certified in math and science. She needed certification to teach in California public schools, but there was no dance credential offered in the state, only physical education. "That was devastating, because I had never even taken a P.E. class," she says. "I always had a waiver because of dance."

Kronenberg took the P.E. certification test and was hired to teach both P.E. and dance. Now the dance program director at El Cerrito High School since 2012, she has helped lead the charge to reinstate the dance-teaching credential—a battle that California public-school dance teachers have been fighting for more than four decades and recently won.


She says that, until now, "it was nobody's job in California to teach public-school dance teachers how to teach dance." California teachers have had to either go the P.E. route or go out of state to get credentialed. "In our state someone could do everything right—get all the dance training, have a professional career in dance and get an undergraduate degree in P.E. along with the P.E. credential, and then apply for a dance position," she says. "Someone who has the exact same experience, but who has a dance credential from New York or Texas or somewhere else, could apply for that same job in California. Their name goes to the top of the pile, because their credential says dance."

Jessy Kronenberg teaching at El Cerrito High School. Photo by Gaby Jraige, courtesy of El Cerrito High School

For a long time, the biggest hurdle for Kronenberg and her fellow advocates was the California Teachers Association (CTA), the teachers' union for the state. The CTA had reasoned that teaching credentials in 15 subjects were too many and that credentialed dance teachers might be underemployable, because there weren't many full-time jobs teaching dance. Without the support of the CTA, previous governors had refused to sign the bill. In 2016, as co-president of the California Dance Education Association, Kronenberg made her case yet again with the CTA Council. Following defeats at the subcommittee level, the issue was taken to the council's floor on the last day, and it finally passed.

In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA), which reestablishes teaching ntials for both dance and theater (previously eliminated by the Ryan Act in 1970). TADA lets fully certified public-school dance teachers begin teaching as early as fall 2022. The credential validates dance teachers' work, making them more employable and providing the necessary training to uphold the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Content Standards for California public schools.

Before students can start working toward their teaching credential at a university or community college, the VAPA Content Standards for the State of California need to be updated to align with the National Core Arts Standards, and the credential needs to be created based on those new standards. This year will be spent writing those and working on the subject-matter requirements.

Next year the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) will be drafted to allow students to enter the credential program. The first half of 2021 will be spent testing the CSET, and by fall 2021, the first batch of aspiring dance teachers can begin the process. To Kronenberg this is a huge victory. "I have students right now who are freshmen, who, once they graduate from college," she says, "can make the choice to do my job, but do it so much better than me, because they will have received training in what they'll do."

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.