Walking into the dance studio at El Cerrito High School (ECHS), you can feel the positivity from students who are welcoming, polite, and enthusiastic with a smile on their faces.
The school has a long and rich history of dance. Former student Jessy Kronenberg, who graduated from ECHS Dance in 1998, is moving the program into a new generation while maintaining the tradition of high-quality dance education.
“In this position, I advocate for high-quality dance education for all of California’s school children,” said Kronenberg, director of the ECHS dance program, whose strides serve as an inspiration for her students. At the El Cerrito High School Dance Program, “I strive to build community and leadership amongst young artists,” she said.
As program director, she has linked the high school program to local middle and elementary schools.
“I brought students from Harding Elementary School to our dance studio to take classes from my advanced dancers. My students planned clear lessons for the younger students and exposed them to what life is like in the dance studio at our school,” she explained.
When you are able to experience the possibilities in doing what you love, the results are remarkable.
As an astounding dance teacher, Kronenberg is also Board Co-president of the California Dance Education Association (CDEA), which supports and promotes quality dance teaching in multiple settings, and promotes opportunities and access to in-depth professional development towards that aim.
“I have created professional development opportunities for other dance teachers in California and helped a network of dance educators come together to serve as their own best resource. This is important because these are teachers who are often isolated on their sites and within their districts. Building this professional camaraderie helps each teacher grow in his or her own practice,” Kronenberg said.
With CDEA, she helped other state arts education organizations write Senate Bill 725, legislation to update the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards. The bill recently passed through the Senate Education Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support on April 22, Kronenberg said, and is now heading to the Appropriations Committee to seek funding.
Kronenberg continues to impact the community as an example that there is no limit to what you can do. She has made her dream become her reality. She hopes to help each student she works with identify with their inner artist and use art as an effective means of expression into their adulthood.
Kronenberg said, “Dance is a way into the heart and soul. I believe that each young artist can use movement to connect to his or her relationships with other people, circumstances, or situations in his or her life.”
“Being better connected from within means they will be better able to connect beyond themselves,” she said.