NEWSLETTER — December 2023



In the spirit of dance. . . 

Marcie Hronis – KDA President

Andrea Hansen – KDA Executive Director


KDA was awarded $4,223,447 by the California Arts Council (CAC) to administer the California Creative Corps program throughout the Central Valley and Eastern Sierra region of the state.

The California Creative Corps is a pilot program designed to promote community and civic engagement, spread awareness about water and energy conservation, climate change, emergency preparedness, relief and recovery through the arts. Fourteen organizations, including KDA, were selected statewide to regrant funds in their region to arts and social service organizations, individual artists, and cultural workers.

The KDA Creative Corps (KDACC) regranted funds to arts and social service organizations, individual artists, and cultural workers throughout fourteen counties in the Central Valley and Eastern Central region of the state.

From south to north, they include Kern, Kings, Tulare, Inyo, Fresno, Madera, Mono, Merced, Mariposa, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, San Joaquin, Calaveras and Amador counties.

KDA Creative Corps Goals:

  • ~ Create jobs in the creative economy
  • ~ Increase the ways in which artists engage in public work
  • ~ Uplift counties and cities not strongly represented in prior California Arts Council grant making
  • ~ Support artists who identify as representing communities residing in the lowest quartile of the California Healthy Places Index
  • ~ Help to cultivate a better California for all

The KDACC program launched on January 13 and awarded 20 grant recipients on May 1. 

Total Amount Invested: $4.2 million 

Total # of Grant Recipients: 20 (14 organizations / 6 individuals)

Total # of 1st-Time Grant Recipients: 70%

Regional Impact:

  • Total # of Counties Served: 14
    • (Kern, Kings, Tulare, Inyo, Fresno, Madera, Mono, Merced, Mariposa, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, San Joaquin, Calaveras and Amador counties)

  • Total # of Zip Codes Served: 110

  • Total Square Mileage Served: 46,217

Professional Learning Opportunities:

  • Total # of KDACC Professional Development Workshops: 10
    • ~ Grant Writing
    • ~ Marketing + PR Strategies
    • ~ HR + Legal Practices
    • ~ Finance Management
    • ~ Media + Interview Training
    • ~ Data Collection + Reporting 

  • Total # of Community Members Participating in KDACC Professional Development Workshops: 813

Creative Workforce + Economic Development:

  • Total # of Job Created: 652 

  • Total # of Workforce Hours: 21,831

Community Outreach:

  • Total # of Marketing + PR Materials: 6,410

  • Total Social Media Engagement and Reach: 131,085,615


  • ~ California Arts Advocacy Day Attendees, Sacramento, CA. – April 18
  • ~ California Arts Council Monthly Meeting Attendees
  • ~ California Creative Corps Administering Organization Presenter
  • ~ Legislative Meetings with Local, Regional, State and Federal Elected Officials
  • ~ Listening Sessions with Community Stakeholders and Leaders

Sectors Impacted by KDACC Programs:

  • ~ Education
  • ~ Healthcare
  • ~ Mental and Behavioral Health
  • ~ Energy
  • ~ Emergency Services
  • ~ Detention Facilities
  • ~ Environment 
  • ~ Municipal Governments
  • ~ Arts and Culture

People Impacted by KDACC Programs:

  • ~ People Living in the Lowest Quartile of the Ca Healthy Places Index 
  • ~ Incarcerated Youth
  • ~ People with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • ~ Students
  • ~ Elderly
  • ~ Unhoused
  • ~ LGBTQI+
  • ~ Underrepresented 
  • ~ Indigenous Tribes

Breakdown of KDACC Projects by Arts Discipline:

  • Dance: 9 of 20 projects
  • Design: 2 of 20 projects
  • Film: 13 of 20 projects
  • Folk/Traditional Arts:5 of 20 projects 
  • Literary Arts:7 of 20 projects
  • Media Arts: 14 of 20 projects
  • Music: 11 of 20 projects
  • Theater: 5 of 20 projects
  • Visual Arts:12 of 20 projects
  • Multidisciplinary: 16 of 20 projects

Breakdown of KDACC Project Focus Areas:

  • ~ Social justice and community engagement: 13 of 20 projects
  • ~ Civic engagement: 5 out of 20 projects
  • ~ Public awareness related to water and energy conservation, climate mitigation, and emergency preparedness, relief, and recovery: 4 out of 20 projects
  • ~ Public health awareness messages to stop the spread of COVID-19: 4 of 20 projects

Impacts Reported through KDACC Programs:

  • ~ Positive shift in attitudes and readiness to specific community causes 
  • ~ Expanded job skills 
  • ~ Community building 
  • ~ Increased self esteem and confidence 
  • ~ Improved mental and physical health 
  • ~ Healing from trauma
  • ~ Heightened awareness of environmental practices 
  • ~ Enhanced empathy for others
  • ~ Expanded understanding and acceptance of different cultures 
  • ~ Strengthened civic engagement 
  • ~ Empowered youth 
  • ~ Intensified interest in utilizing the arts to support public service 



  • Amber Patee Adams
  • Arts Council of Kern
  • Arts Enrichment For All
  • Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Inc.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County
  • Camp Taylor
  • Community Media Access Collaborative
  • Dance Camera West
  • Dianna Heppe
  • Dolores Huerta Foundation
  • Donte McDaniel
  • Eastern Sierra Artists
  • Elizabeth Grandsaert
  • Garden Pathways
  • Kern River Valley Art Association
  • Modesto Sound
  • Outsiders Nation
  • Rosalinda Verde Alexander
  • Stage View Performing Arts Foundation
  • Valerie Anglen



February 26, 2023
The Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater
63 Artists

On Sunday, February 26 KDA opened the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater for the 2nd annual OPEN STAGE event that allowed Kern County dance artists to use the theater for FREE! Artists used their exclusive time for a variety of endeavors and we enjoyed seeing over 250 people come through the theater on that special day.

Dance artists presented private performances, rehearsed for upcoming shows, filmed marketing materials, created dance for film projects, and filmed audition reels. For many, this was their FIRST TIME stepping foot on the famous Fox stage and KDA was delighted to be able to experience that first moment with them.

Thank you Kern County dance artists for taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity – we are honored to serve you!

~ BCSD Folklorico Dance Groups

~ Whitchard Choral and Theatre Arts Academy

~ Spotlight Academy of the Arts

~ McLaughlin Dance Collective

~ Bakersfield City Ballet

~ Victoria Marchetti/Alexia Nankill

Thank you Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater for your support of the Kern Dance Alliance!


Saturdays, March 4 – 25, 2023
The Dance Studio at Garces Memorial High School 
26 High School Students 
9 Professional Mentors

KDA was pleased to host Paso a Paso. . . Life is a Dance, a FREE after-school confidence-building program geared towards high school girls. Paso a Paso empowered girls by teaching them that life is a dance and it is necessary to learn the right steps to achieve success. Girls utilized dance to create a support system of sisterhood while becoming empowered through life skills workshops. 

Paso a Paso was a FREE program that was offered on Saturdays, March 4 – 25 from 12:00 – 2:00 pm at the dance studio at Garces Memorial High School. The program featured guest speakers and dancing. Girls partook in life skills building workshops for the first hour of the program, followed by Latin dance instruction taught by a professional Latin dancer for the second hour.  The dance classes inspired confidence and cultural understanding as the participants learned to express themselves through Bachata dance.

The Paso a Paso life-skills workshops focused on a variety of topics including resume writing, college admissions training, mental health, financial and cyber security, as well as basic life skills like how to change a tire, use jumper cables, and establish a budget.  The Paso a Paso life skills workshops were led by Kern County Latina community leaders. 

The goals of Paso a Paso were to empower young girls through the mentorship of experienced female leaders in the community and through dance classes/performance. The weekly steps were focused on guiding the young women towards a future path of success.

To become enrolled in Paso a Paso, interested applicants had to submit an application through the Kern Dance Alliance website.

Paso a Paso Guest Speakers + Dance Instructor:

Step One – Building Your Brand with Virginia Nuñez (Personal Presentation, Resume Writing, Interview Training)

Step Two – Mastering Basic Automotive Success with Kat Irwin (How to charge a car battery, how to change the oil, etc)

Step Three- Financial + Cyber Security  with Mary Dávalos, Elva Saraí Torres and Ana Soriano (Maintain a Budget/Bill Pay, Credit Building, Social Meeting Protection, Scams + Fraud)

Step Four- Mindful Mental Health with Adeana Church and Maritza Jimenez (How to handle internal and external pressure)

Karina Villarreal, Bachata Instructor, started dancing in 2004 at the University of California Riverside. In 2006, she became the President of the Salsa Club at UCR and she taught lessons every week at the school’s rec center. After graduating college she became part of a dance team directed by Riverside Community College. She then joined a professional Bachata team in Buena Park. Karina continued teaching salsa and bachata lessons in different venues. Karina also started her own dance team in Riverside named Apasionados Dance Co. Her team performed at dance festivals in Los Angeles and also different clubs. Karina then moved to Bakersfield and started teaching weekly bachata lessons at Studio 9. She then started an all ladies dance team named Ritmo Aché. The team performed at Bachata Festivals in Anaheim; as well as dance studios in LA, Fresno and Bakersfield. Overall Karina Villarreal enjoys teaching dance to others and making friendships through dance.

Paso a Paso Data:

Participants reported improvements in all areas measured through the program via a pre and post test, with the most impressive statistic indicating that 90% of students stated that they felt accomplished after completing the program and that they would like to participate in Paso a Paso again.

  1. Do you have a resume?
  • ~ 80% reported they did not have a resume prior to Paso.  
  • ~ Post event, 60% of participants reported they had a resume they could be proud of. 

  1. Do you have a bank account?
  • ~ 80% reported they did not have a bank account prior to Paso. 
  • ~ Post event, 20% reported they did have an account and another 50% indicated they planned to open one. 

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3 (1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest), please rate your confidence.

~ 80% of participants reported a 2 indicating moderate confidence (some days I am high and some days I am on low.  
~ Post event, 60% of girls reported a 3 indicating they had gained confidence since completing the program. 

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3 (1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest), please rate your Bachata moves.
  • ~ 80% of girls reported a 1, stating they did not have the best Bachata moves. 
  • ~ Post event, 50% of participants reported a 2 (some Bachata moves) and 40% reported a 3 (great Bachata moves)

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3, please rate your confidence in applying for a job. 
  • ~ 66.67% of participants reported a 2 for moderate confidence.
  • ~ Post event, participants experienced an increase in confidence with 50% reporting moderate confidence and 40% reporting high confidence. 

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3, please rate your knowledge of car maintenance. 
  • ~ 80% of participants reported a 1 for “not very knowledgeable”.
  • ~ Post event, knowledge of car maintenance increased with 60% reporting a 2 for “some knowledge” and 30% reporting a 3 for “very knowledgeable”.

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3, please rate your feeling of belonging among your friends.
  • ~ 53.3% reported a “3” that they had “found a group of friends where they felt they belonged”.
  • ~ At the culmination of the program 60% reported they had “found of group of friends where they felt they belonged”

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3, please rate your current guidance for success. 
  • ~ 60% of students reported a “2” that they “think” they have what it takes to be successful. 
  • ~ At the end of the program 60% of students reported a “3” that they “have” what it takes to be successful. 

  1. On a scale of 1 – 3, please rate your level of independence.
  • ~ 46.6% of students reported a “2” that they felt “somewhat” independent.
  • ~ After completing Paso a Paso, 70% of students reported that they felt “very independent”. 

  1. How are you feeling since completing Paso a Paso? 
  • ~ 90% of students indicated they felt “accomplished” since completing Paso a Paso. 

  1. Would you participate in Paso a Paso again?
  • ~ 90% of students indicated they would like to participate in Paso a Paso again. 

Paso A Paso Testimonials:

At first when my mom told me that she applied to Paso a Paso I was very mad and didn’t want to do it, but when I started it I absolutely loved it and I’m so glad that my mom put me in the Paso a Paso. – Paso a Paso Participant 2023

I really liked to be part of Paso a Paso! It is an educational and inspiring program for all young girls to build their skill levels. Especially their confidence levels! I learned I can be successful and some new dance moves! – Paso a Paso Participant 2023

Paso a Paso was one of the best things that I’ve done. I always looked forward to going to Paso a Paso. – Paso a Paso Participant 2023

Paso a Paso was a great experience, lots of things were taught that I didn’t know I needed to know. Plus I made some friends! – Paso a Paso Participant 2023

Congratulations to the Paso A Paso participants who successfully completed the program!  We see you.  We believe in you.  And, we are so PROUD OF YOU!

A special thank you to all of the incredible volunteers, sponsors, and donors that helped to make Paso A Paso a reality including our guest speakers and Paso Program Director, Diana Delgadillo.


Kern Dance Alliance Secondary Chapter
NHSDA Information Meeting – March 1, 2023 via Zoom
NHSDA Induction Ceremony – April 24, 2023 at Bakersfield Country Club 

NHSDA Information Meeting

KDA offered an information session on Wednesday, March 1 via Zoom for students interested in learning more about the National Honors Society for Dance Arts.  Led by KDA Program Coordinator, Whitney Pascual, students were able to learn more about the USA’s most prestigious honors society for dancers who excel in artistry, leadership, and academic achievements. Students learned about the application process and that they must submit their applications by April 1 to be considered for induction.

NHSDA Induction Ceremony 

KDA celebrated our fifth class of National Honor Society for Dance Arts / Kern Dance Alliance Secondary Chapter inductees – Chloe Blake and Hannah Horwedel. Students received honors cord and pin, as well as a NHSDA plaque during the NHSDA luncheon at Bakersfield Country Club on April 24.

Chloe is an honors student at Bakersfield Christian High School and the youngest KDA/NHSDA inductee to date!  She trains at Civic Dance Center and is a company member with the Bakersfield City Ballet.  She was the winner of the 2022 Bakersfield Choreography Conference, she has attended the Tiler Peck Summer Intensive, and she will attend the San Diego Ballet summer intensive this summer. Chloe is equally active in her academic community.  She participates in Debate and Forensics, and is active with many on-campus clubs and programs.  

Hannah is an honors student at Liberty High School.  She trains at Civic Dance Center and is a company member with the Bakersfield City Ballet. She has competed in the Youth Grand American Prix and has attended the JoffreyRED Summer Intensive. She is an accomplished student who is enrolled in AP and dual-enrollment college courses.  She is specifically focused on STEM subjects, particularly in science and engineering, and she currently serves as the 2023 KDA Student Intern. 

In addition to celebrating the induction of Chloe and Hannah, KDA Executive Director- Andrea Hansen, presented KDA President- Marcie Hronis and KDA Program Coordinator- Whitney Pascual with an honorary NHSDA induction in light of their tenured efforts and service to the field of dance. Both Mrs. Hronis and Mrs. Pasucal received a NHSDA induction pin. 

KDA is proud to celebrate equally accomplished academicians and artists that are exemplary in their merit, character, and leadership.  Congratulations to Chloe, Hannah, Marcie and Whitney who now officially join 1000s of NHSDA inductees throughout the USA!


Summer 2023

  • ~ Number of Performances: 31
  • ~ Number of Locations: 17
  • ~ Number of Artists: 76
  • ~ Number of Participants: 2,346
  • ~ Number of Assessments: 758
  • ~ Number of FREE Books Given Away: 1,788

Books in Motion®: DANCE + LITERACY, an award-nominated, evidence-based summer reading program that uses dance to promote literacy by focusing on Common Core Standards for Reading Literature returned to libraries across Kern County this summer. The Kern Dance Alliance and Kern County Library were proud to launch Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACYwith the goal of reducing summer slump by encouraging reading and promoting healthy living through movement and dance.

Families were invited to visit a library branch between July 7 – August 5 to watch dance performances based upon well-known children’s books. Featuring books like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin and “Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs” by Eric Litwin, children experienced the magic of a book brought to life through an artistic performance. 

To further enhance learning, children also learned a short dance that coincided with the book’s theme and created a craft to promote role playing. To encourage reading at home, children were offered a FREE book at the completion of the program. 

Books in Motion 2023 also featured bilingual performances and American Sign Language (ASL) services hosted by the Independent Living Center of Kern County. 

The 7th annual Books in Motion program was made possible through the creative vision of Kern County dance artists. Nine contracted Kern County dance organizations had been working since the spring to bring books to life through delightful performances and skilled choreography. Aloha Entertainment, Bakersfield City Ballet, Civic Dance Center, DAT Krew, Heather Benes and the East Kern Ragtag Revels, J and M Dance Center, McLaughlin Dance Collective, Spotlight Dance Academy, and Spotlight Academy of the Arts were all featured via 31 performances at 17 library locations. 

Books in Motion is geared for children in the early literacy stages (K-3rd grade) and is designed to tap into their imagination and encourage them to read. For some, reading is a concept that is too foreign to understand due to age and brain development. Books in Motion will bypass this intangible feeling by allowing children to see the magic of a book laid out with real characters coming to life. Children do not have to read the words – they can read the dancers’ movements to understand the story. By tapping into curiosity, children are motivated to explore literacy, which leads them back to the written words that brought the book to life. 

Books in Motion has reached over 10,000 children and has given away nearly 6,290 free books since 2016. 

Books in Motion was made possible by generous support from 23ABC, Arts Council of Kern County, California Arts Council, Chevron, Kern Family Health Care, Junior League of Bakersfield, Robert Grimm Family Foundation, and the Wonderful Company.

Books in Motion featured the following beloved children’s books:

  • ~ Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin
  • ~ “Cindergorilla” by Gareth P. Jones
  • ~ “Everybody Dances” by  Pinkfong
  • ~ “Goldilocks & the Three Bears” by  Teresa Mlawer
  • ~ “Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs” by Eric Litwin
  • ~ “Mother Goose” by Tomie DePaola
  • ~ “Swan Lake” by New York City Ballet
  • ~ “Sweet Dance Party!”  by Random House
  • ~ “Stone Soup” by Ann McGovern

Books in Motion Schedule:

Books in Motion Goals:

  • ~ Create motivation and interest in reading
  • ~ Create motivation and encouragement for movement through dance
  • ~ Cover Common Core State Standards in Reading Literature for grades K-3rd grade
  • ~ Instill a sense of connection and ownership of reading through listening and viewing of stories
  • ~ Support literacy development through unified thematic experience of art, dance, and story-telling

To achieve the Books in Motion goals, assessments were created based upon the following Common Core Standards for Reading Literature, K-3rd grade:

Kindergarten RL.K.1-RL.K.7 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text; retell familiar stories; identify characters, settings, and major events in a story; describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear.

1st Grade RL.1.1-1.7 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text; retell stories and demonstrate understanding of their central message; describe characters, settings, and major events in a story; identify words and phrases in stories or poems that appeal to the senses; use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

2nd Grade RL.2.1-2.7 Ask questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text; recount stories and determine their central message, lesson, or moral; describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges; describe how words supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song; use information gained from the illustrations and words to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.  

3rd RL.3.1 Ask questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers; recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text; describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events; explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story.

Books in Motion Accolades:

1. Kern County Board of Supervisors proclaims July 2023 Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACY month

On June 27, 2023 the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to officially proclaim July as Books in Motion®: DANCE + LITERACY Month! CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO

Books in Motion is an award-nominated, evidence-based, trademarked program that has been offered consecutively for 7 years in Kern County, CA. 

A collaborative program offered by the Kern Dance Alliance and Kern County Library, Books in Motion has encouraged over 10,000 children to read while providing a FREE book to almost every child since 2016. 

Books in Motion is not only an educational service, but it is also a JOBS CREATOR that impacts our creative economy and promotes economic prosperity. 

Kern Dance Alliance is proud to pay artists for the work they are doing in the public sphere and even more proud to help them build their capacity that in-turn shapes the overall business sector of Kern County. 

Collaborations, partnerships, and sponsorships are key to the success of Books of Motion. This program would not be possible if it weren’t for the countless donors, volunteers, and artists that contribute year after year to ensure Books in Motion is offered annually. 

We are grateful that Kern County has acknowledged Books in Motion in the month of July with an official proclamation!  This honor not only recognizes our efforts to improve illiteracy in Kern County through the arts, but to also signify the efforts that have been made by many devoted individuals and organizations throughout the years to make tomorrow better.

2. ASL Services provided by Independent Living Center of Kern County

Books in Motion was proud to feature American Sign Language services for those that are deaf and hard of hearing at nine of the performances.  In collaboration with the Independent Living Center of Kern County, these performances provided disability enhancements for a part of our population that require additional services.  As a result, Books in Motion 2023 was our most inclusive year yet!

​​3. Books in Motion En Español

2023 featured Books in Motion performances in Spanish.  Spotlight Dance Academy toured Cindergorilla to the Shafter Learning Center and Library and provided the participants with a Spanish-speaking experience. 

4. Repeat Attendance 

BIM was thrilled to see many community members attend a variety of performances.  Children and their families were delighted to not only attend multiple performances of the same book, they also attended various performances of the other books on tour. It became clear many children wanted to collect as many of the BIM books as possible and we were happy to see their faces many times throughout the summer.

Books in Motion Results:

KDA received 758 assessments resulting in 32% of attendees responding to the BIM survey that was available both online and in person. While the data below does not reflect all 100% of attendees, it does show that the program served a diverse population specific to geographic location, age, and gender. 

Results found that many of the books presented were brand new to the children with 75% of participants reporting that they had never heard the books before. 

The surveys also found that 46% of children reported that their favorite part of the program was the performance, followed by 35% reporting that taking a dance class was their favorite part, and 19% reporting that creating the craft was their favorite. 

87% of participants answered the correlating Common Core Standards for Reading Literature questions correctly when relating the theme of the story to the program activities. 

Of most importance, 95% reported that the Books in Motion program inspired them to read!

Books in Motion served 2,346 participants and gave away 1,788 free books.

Books in Motion Demographics- Zip Code, Gender, Age:

Books in Motion served people from 34 zip codes, with a 65/35 ratio of girls attending vs. boys.  

The  surveys also found that the majority of attendees were the target population (K-3rd grade) with 40% of participants representing 4-7 year olds and 45% making up 5-9 year olds making up the majority of participants.

Books in Motion Press:

Social Media:

KDA proudly produced 50 social media posts advertising Books in Motion via our Facebook and Instagram accounts between June 29 and September 8.  


KDA was proud to work with KDA filmmaker Adam Welch to capture the 2023 Books in Motion program.  Mr. Welch produced 10 short films featuring the impact and reach of the program, as well as highlighting the artists involved in the project. 

In celebration of World Literacy Day on September 8, KDA published all 10 Books in Motion films featuring the 2023 program on our social media and YouTube pages.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH ALL 10 FILMS!

Traditional Media:

Additionally, KDA was proud to count several local news affiliates to assist with the advertising of Books in Motion.  KDA wished to extend our deepest gratitude to ABC/KBAK Channel 23 for their exclusive Books in Motion media sponsorship where they highlighted the program weekly for 8 weeks via carefully crafted interviews and storytelling. 

August 25, 2023 ABC / KBAK Channel 23:  McLaughlin Dance Collective dances it up as yearly Books in Motion program comes to a close

August 18, 2023 ABC / KBAK Channel 23: Bakersfield City Ballet shares the spotlight during Books in Motion program

August 4, 2023 ABC / KBAK Channel 23:  Spotlight Dance Academy shines a light on books during Books in Motion program

July 26, 2023  ABC / KBAK Channel 23: Aloha Entertainment turns love into literacy during Books in Motion program

July 21, 2023 ABC / KBAK Channel 23: J&M Dance Center inspires children through Books in Motion program

July 19 2023 Bakersfield Californians: Playing by the book for KDA literacy program 

July 19, 2023 ABC / KBAK Channel 23: Kern Dance Alliance combines dance and education with Books in Motion program

July 7, 2023: NBC / KGET Channel 17 : Books In Motion’ brings books to life at Kern County Libraries

July 7, 2023: ABC / KBAK Channel 23: Kern Dance Alliance holds yearly ‘Books in Motion’ literacy program

July 3, 2023 KBAK / KBFX Kern County Library ‘Books in Motion’

Books in Motion Takeaways and Future:

Books in Motion 2023 was our most impactful year yet.  

  • ~ Attendance increased by 20% from 2022 to 2023.
  • ~ The number of FREE books offered to participants increased by 24% from 2022 to 2023.
  • ~ Books in Motion 2023 offered 31 performances compared to 26 in 2022.
  • ~ The addition of American Sign Language increased our attendance by ensuring people with disabilities were offered additional learning services. 

One challenge presented in 2023 was the departure of a key partner from the program 18 hours before the first performance launched on July 7.  For the past six years, this organization had been instrumental in offering funding to help pay for the books offered to the participants, providing volunteers at the performances, and assisting with analyzing data. While partner expectations were clearly outlined in February 2023, the new leadership of the organization never attended a partner meeting and fell short in delivering their expected contributions the final week before the launch of the program. Ultimately, the organization departed the project in an unsatisfactory way jeopardizing not only the program, but the relationships built with the other project partners and our community.  While this experience was very painful, KDA, the Kern County Library, and incredible volunteers banded together to ensure Books in Motion did not fail. We are proud that this final report has demonstrated that the program was successful and we look forward to launching the program again next year.

Another unanticipated challenge was the rise in the cost of books. Due to inflation, book prices have increased and the final amount paid to ensure free books were offered to every participant was much higher than anticipated.  KDA is grateful that Books in Motion was generously funded this year which assisted with the unexpected higher costs of books.  KDA will be mindful to increase our book budget for the 2024 program. 

While challenges were presented, KDA was proud to work directly with Russo’s Book Store to assist with the ordering and delivery of nearly 2000 books.Thank you to Russo’s for their attention to detail and support of Books in Motion!

Books in Motion will return in 2024 and has already received a grant from the California Arts Council and the Wonderful Company to assist with funding the program’s reach. KDA is continually seeking funds to ensure the program’s viability is continued.  BIM performer applications will open in February 2024 and the program will tour to the library beginning in July 2024.


July 31 – August 4, 2023
The Dance Studio at Garces Memorial High School 
23 Students
3 Student Mentors
1 Lead Mentor

KDA announced the return of SHINE for Girls: DANCE + MATH = SUCCESS after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic. SHINE is an innovative, curriculum-based program that utilizes dance to teach math to middle school girls while boosting their overall self-confidence. SHINE combines formal dance training with rigorous math instruction to improve girls’ math scores and spark their interest in STEM. KDA has graduated 186 girls from the program and celebrated our 8th class this summer.

SHINE 2023 was offered for FREE during a summer camp on July 31 – August 4 from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm at the dance studio at Garces Memorial High School. The innovative program taught girls concepts such as probability and statistics, order of operations, fractions, decimals, pre-algebra, and geometry. Girls participated in one on one mentoring sessions, small group tutoring, kinesthetic learning activities – like dance, and also learned from women in STEM guest speakers. On the final day of the program, girls performed their SHINE dances, received a certificate of completion, a commemorative SHINE t-shirt, and enjoyed a pizza party!

Female high school and college level students assisted with teaching the SHINE program and was directed by the SHINE Lead Mentor, Wendy Wisheropp-Brice, an accomplished dancer who also teaches 9-12 grade Advanced Algebra, GATE Geometry, and AP Statistics at Liberty High School.

An online application was required for all SHINE girls/mentors and the program was made possible with support from Chevron and the Chevron Women’s Employee Network. 

SHINE Logic:

Research shows that females lose confidence in their abilities to succeed at math during middle school, which in turn affects the number of women that pursue STEM careers. These young attitudes towards STEM have a large-scale impact. According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES):

  • ~ Of the 146.4 million people ages 18 to 74 in the workforce, 34.9 million (24%) were employed in STEM occupations in 2021. Although men and women represented similar proportions of the total workforce (52% men and 48% women) a greater share of men (29%) than women (18%) worked in STEM occupations.

  • ~ Additionally, men vastly outnumber women majoring in STEM fields in college and the gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.
    SHINE addresses inequities by appealing to girls at a critical time by promoting women in STEM.

SHINE Impact:

Every middle school teacher has had a girl in a math class say, “I can’t.” SHINE turns the “I can’t” around by creating an environment in which girls not only realize that they can, but that they want to. SHINE’s approach successfully:

  • ~ Employs kinesthetic learning enabling girls to understand and retain material from math class
  • ~ Changes girls’ attitudes towards math and their own abilities, resulting in higher participation in classrooms, interest in joining school math teams, and higher test scores
  • ~ Covers 6th-8th grades concepts from the Math Common Core
  • ~ Teaches dance to young girls and provides them an opportunity to perform that creates confidence
  • ~ Mentors young girls in nurturing environments where girls can thrive and believe in their abilities

Supporting local youth in education pursuits

Harnessing self-esteem and confidence on stage and in the classroom
Inspiring young women to pursue STEM fields

Nurturing a love of mathematics

Empowering women across America

2023 SHINE Team:

SHINE Advisor: Jessica Johnson 

SHINE Lead Mentor: Wendy Wisheropp-Brice

SHINE Mentors: Aubrey Baldoz, Hannah Horwedel, Sam Peel

Women in STEM Guest Speakers:

Monday, July 31 – Science – Tia Keeler, Environmental Specialist

Tuesday, August 1 – Technology – Ananda Fidalgo, Process Engineer

Wednesday, August 2 – Math – Selina Green, Project Controls Analyst

Thursday, August 3 – Engineering – Amanda Nordstrom, Petroleum Engineer -Subsurface Optimization

SHINE Results:  

The success of SHINE is measured through evaluations from the students, parents, and mentors and the results of pre/post tests and surveys to mark a change as a direct result of the program. Such changes include increased confidence, interest in pursuing STEM, believing that as girls they are capable of succeeding in STEM, greater self-worth, increased teamwork and leadership, and enhanced math problem-solving skills. KDA is proud to produce the following results:

Girls Reported:

Prior to the beginning of the SHINE program, girls participated in a pre-event survey indicating how they felt about:

  1. 1. math skill competence
  2. 2. confidence level
  3. 3. dance skills
  4. 4. knowledge of STEM careers
  5. 5. their ability to do anything they put their mind to

On a scale of 1 – 5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), girls averaged between a 2.1 and 3.9 rating when scoring how they felt about the measured fields on the first day of the program. 

At the culmination of the program, girls reported a 70-90% increase in the fields measured with girls averaging between a 4.3 and 4.8 when asked to rate the same questions asked on the last day of the program. 

Girls not only increased their averages with respect to measuring their math skill competence, confidence level, dance skills, knowledge of STEM careers, and their ability to do anything they put their mind to, they also objectively increased their math scores when comparing their pre-test scores to their post-test scores.

Girls were given a math test on the first and last day of the program to score their math competence. 100% of girls scored higher on their post-test problems after participating in the SHINE program.

Mentors Reported:

In addition to measuring the progress of SHINE girls, KDA also measures the impact SHINE makes on our mentors who volunteer their time to help run the SHINE program.

100% of mentors stated “YES” the following questions: 

  • ~ I am more confident in my abilities since I have been in SHINE
  • ~ I enjoy math more since joining SHINE
  • ~ I have more of a positive attitude towards STEM subjects since joining SHINE
  • ~ I am considering a STEM career since joining SHINE
  • ~ I believe I can accomplish just as much as men
  • ~ I connected with my girls during SHINE
  • ~ I have benefitted from SHINE
  • ~ I feel proud of what I have accomplished during SHINE
  • ~ I would recommend SHINE

SHINE was an amazing way to mesh my love for math and dance while also working on my leadership skills. This week I was able to evaluate myself and become more confident in my leadership abilities. I loved connecting with all of the girls, and it was so amazing to see how far they progressed. Overall, this program was extremely inspiring!! – 2023 SHINE Mentor Testimonial 

Parents Reported:

SHINE also measured parents/guardians of the girls to mark their experiences through the program.

100% of parents/guardians stated “YES” the following questions: 

  • ~ I think my girl improved in math since joining SHINE
  • ~ My girl seems more confident in her abilities since she has been in SHINE
  • ~ My girl seems to enjoy math more since joining SHINE
  • ~ My girl shows more of a positive attitude towards STEM subjects since joining SHINE
  • ~ I think my girl may consider a STEM career since joining SHINE
  • ~ My girl believes she can accomplish just as much as a boy
  • ~ My girl enjoyed dancing and is now considering attending more dance classes since joining SHINE
  • ~ My girl connected with her mentor during SHINE
  • ~ My girl made new friends through SHINE
  • ~ My girl enjoyed participating in SHINE
  • ~ My girl benefitted from SHINE
  • ~ SHINE added value from regular schoolwork
  • ~ I saw positive effects of SHINE in my girl’s schoolwork and attitude
  • ~ My girl feels proud of what she accomplished during SHINE
  • ~ I would recommend SHINE to other girls

My daughter is painfully shy and was in tears the first day and did not want to go or stay. I spoke to the instructor to let her know and she assured me she would watch over her. When I picked her up the first afternoon she was all smiles and could not wait to go back the next day. On the eve of the last day she is tearful again as it is all coming to an end tomorrow. She had so much fun and learned so much. She can’t wait to do it again. Thank you SHINE! – 2023 SHINE Parent/Guardian Testimonial 

Math has been a struggle for my daughter for the last couple years. She plays travel soccer, but during the summer it’s slower so I was looking for something to cover learning and keep her active.

SHINE was absolutely the best answer. She has loved it so much and I love that she has enjoyed it. Her confidence in Math has improved and she feels ready for the school year. She has really enjoyed the dancing component so much that I am looking at dance studios to add dancing into her schedule by her request.

I hope that we are chosen for next year, but in all honesty, I wish this program was run year-round so we could continue to be part of this marvelous program. – 2023 SHINE Parent/Guardian Testimonial 

My daughter was so excited to be blessed with this whole experience, and we are so thankful that it exists for girls to enjoy. – 2023 SHINE Parent/Guardian Testimonial


September 30 – November 15, 2023
The Dance Studio at Garces Memorial High School 
44 Participants 
1 Program Director
1 Program Coordinator
6 Student Interns 

KDA and the League of Dreams (LoD) were proud to host the 7th year of ADAPTIdance: DANCE + DISABILITY this fall. ADAPTIdance is Kern County’s ONLY adaptive dance program that serves people with disabilities, ages 5-22, and is produced in collaboration with the LoD, a nonprofit adaptive sports league. LoD participants have physical or developmental diagnosis like, but not limited to Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Spina Bifida, that prevent them from participating in traditional sports or dance programs. ADAPTIdance participants learn inclusive and creative dances that are accessible and adaptable for movers with and without disabilities

ADAPTIdance ran on Saturdays from September 30 – November 4 with three different classes offered based upon age, ability, and experience at the dance studio at Garces Memorial High School. The program culminated with a final performance at the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater on Wednesday, November 15.

ADAPTIdance was led by Myka Steele, who has been trained by AXIS Dance Company, one of the nation’s most acclaimed performance ensembles of disabled and non-disabled dancers. Myka is currently working towards achieving a degree in education with a focus on working with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Myka also works for the Panama-Buena School District, assisting the special needs programs.

In addition to Myka assuming the role of the ADAPTIdance Program Director, KDA was overjoyed to add Romy Jones to ADAPTIdance serving in the role of Program Coordinator.  Ms. Jones is a former ADAPTIdance student intern and currently works as an educator for special needs programs in Bakersfield.  She supported the ADAPTIdance team in 2023 by assisting in developing curriculum, training the student interns, creating choreography, assessing the program, and supporting the program participants. 

ADAPTIdance was also assisted with the support from 6 student dance interns from different Kern County dance studios.  Student interns were trained to assist teaching the adaptive dance classes and assisted in assessing the progress of the students. As an added benefit, the student interns also acquired community service hours and learned the importance of service over self. 

Registration for ADAPTIdance opened on August 1. All registrants were required to provide a diagnosis confirmation or first page of an IEP and be between the ages of 5 and 22. 

ADAPTIdance 2023 was made possible by sponsorships from Garces Memorial High School, Arts Council of Kern County, Friends of Mercy Foundation, and the Bakersfield West Rotary. Funding graciously supported volunteer training, program supplies, marketing, website and technology integrations, insurance costs, and the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater rental.

2023 ADAPTIdance Team:

ADAPTIdance Program Director: Myka Steele

ADAPTIdance Program Coordinator: Romy Jones

ADAPTIdance Student Interns:
Alicia Brunni
Savvy Garrett
Methea Hansen
Lily Newman
Breanna Riggs
Leila Wilson

ADAPTIdance Goals: 

  1. ~ Provide access to creative movement and dance training for all students regardless of disability, income level, or prior dance experience 
  2. ~ Provide a forum for physical activity that is a model for kids of all abilities to collaborate as equals while developing skills in cooperation and a respect for self and others
  3. ~ Educate about disability, collaboration, and inclusion through the medium of dance and the presentation of positive role models and images of people with disabilities
  4. ~ Provide Kern County dancers and dance educators the opportunity to give back to their community by participating in a dance program geared towards populations with disabilities

ADAPTIdance Outcomes: 

  • ~ Brightened affect
  • ~ Increased quality of life/joyfulness
  • ~ Increased Self-Expression
  • ~ Educate about disability, collaboration, and inclusion through the medium of dance and the presentation of positive role models and images of people with disabilities 

ADAPTIdance Impacts: 

  • ~ Participants have a positive association with dance and are eager to move when in an environment that has dance. 
  • ~ Caretakers assist participants in participating in other dance experiences outside the program, and see dance as a positive addition to the participants’ routine. 

ADAPTIdance Results: 

At the conclusion of each ADAPTidance dance class, KDA collected data from the ADAPTIdance student interns measuring specific categories including the participants’ brightened affect, eagerness to move, increased quality of life, and joyfulness. 

These key indicators allowed KDA to gauge the impact of the program over a six-week series of classes. Once data was collected and measured, KDA found there was an average increase in metrics as the classes progressed week from week. The categories were rated on a scale of 1-5 with approximately 98 measurements for each category. 

KDA is happy to report the following data: 

  • ~ 98% Improved Brightened Affect
  • ~ 100% Improved Eagerness to Move
  • ~ 87% Increased Quality of Life
  • ~ 99% Improved Joyfulness
  • ~ 100% Improved Self-Expression

Key indicators responsible for the increase in metrics include: 

  • ~ As the ADAPTIdance program progressed from week to week, the ADAPTIdancers developed a level of comfort with the ADAPTIdance program director and interns. As a result, the barriers of discomfort were removed and the dancers felt more comfortable dancing – ultimately increasing the participants’ brightened affect, eagerness to move, increased quality of life, and joyfulness.

  • ~ The ADAPTIdancers knowledge of dance technique and choreography heighten over six weeks, ultimately building the dancer’s confidence. This positive experience encouraged dancers to attend weekly classes where learnt information was continually executed/improved and new information was made available in a nurturing and safe environment.

  • ~ ADAPTIdance began to focus on the final performance at the Fox Theater during week four and thus began to set new benchmarks for goal-setting. The ADAPTIdance team provided encouraging conversations about dancing on the Fox stage and the importance of executing an exciting performance. As the excitement of the final performance approached, the ADAPTIdancers attention to details, focus, and memorization of choreography increased, ultimately impacting the increase of the ADAPTIdance metrics. Participants have a positive association with dance and are eager to move when in an env

ADAPTIdance Bonus:

After seven years of operating ADAPTIdance, the program has had a long-standing goal of providing professional warm ups to the participants to wear to/from dance class and performances.  Many of the other League of Dreams programs (cheerleading, baseball, basketball, etc) offer the participants uniforms and the dance program always admired their attire.  Due to an increase in funding for 2023, KDA and LoD officially made our dreams come true by offering all 46 participants brand new warm ups donning the program branding.  Participants were provided with their warmups on the final day of the program and proudly wore them to their final performance at the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater!


September 16, 2023
Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater, and Convention Center
Tickets Issued: 917
Number of Classes + Experiences: 42
Number of Artists: 35

KDA hosted our National Dance Day celebration on Saturday, September 16 from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. The 9-hour dance convention offered $5 classes, workshops, and seminars taught by local, national, and internationally renowned artists at Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater & Convention Center.

National Dance Day 2023 was focused on celebrating movers of all ages, levels, and abilities by commemorating a day meant to inspire all walks of life to keep moving. The event also featured a vendor marketplace that was open to the public focused on health, wellness, the arts, and promoting an improved quality of life.

The KDA National Dance Day offered 42 beginning to advanced classes for children through adults ranging from hula to line dance, hip hop to swing dance, ballet to tap dance, and more!  New in 2023, the day also featured a “Dancing Through the Decades” class for seniors, a cinema room presented by Dance Camera West featuring 8 hours of curated dance films, and free 5-10 minute ‘Dance Breaks” where the public could learn social dances like the Country Two Step and Salsa.

Taught by 30 Kern County dance instructors, as well as 5 celebrity dance artists representing many of America’s finest dance institutions including So You Think You Can Dance celebrities, Alex Wong and Jim Nowakowski, Sean Aaron Carmen from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Disney’s “The Lion King” on Broadway, and hip hop dance artist Max Pham, the event offered the Kern County community an opportunity to try a dance class for the first time or advance a dancers’ technique by training with today’s most revered instructors. 

KDA is grateful for all of the instructors, attendees, sponsors, vendors, volunteers, partners, media, parents/guardians/caretakers, members, donors, theater staff, Mayor Karen Goh, Assemblyman Vince Fong, the office of Senator Shannon Grove and DANCERS! Your participation made this the BIGGEST event in KDA history and we are so thankful for your support.

NDD 2023 Guest Teachers-

  • Sean Aaron Carmon 
  • Jim Nowakowski  
  • Dr. Suzanne Knosp  
  • Max Pham 
  • Alex Wong

NDD 2023 Local Teachers-

  • Nesi Sheldon  
  • Callie Jenkins  
  • Sadie Thomason  
  • Jodi Mitchell  
  • Marnie Forzetting  
  • Brandi Root 
  • Victoria Marchetti  
  • Josh Harless  
  • Geoff Alexander
  • Arlene Carrillo
  • Sharida Rejon-Rodriguez  
  • Kristen McLaughlin 
  • Meghan Boggess 
  • David Moreno  
  • Rachel Harless
  • Charles and Petra Bantum 
  • Andrew Jones
  • Romy Jones  
  • Mindi Schiefelbein 
  • Joel Hoffman  
  • Desmond Ramey  
  • Naomi Rivera
  • Suze DeArmond
  • Veronica Hidalgo 
  • Stephanie Figueroa
  • Brenlea Smith 

2023 NDD Marketplace Vendors:

  • ~ McCan Chiropractic  
  • ~ Demi Dance Project
  • ~ March Consulting 
  • ~ Bella 
  • ~ American Heart Association 
  • ~ Performer’s Closet 
  • ~ Bakersfield Marathon 
  • ~ Kern County Library 
  • ~ Orange Theory
  • ~ J Peters Agency
  • ~ Cheeky Peach

NDD 2023 Sponsors:

  • ~ KGET – Channel 17
  • ~ Stockdale Podiatry Group 
  • ~ Hansen’s Moving and Storage  
  • ~ Core Chiropractic
  • ~ J. Webb Empowering Solutions 
  • ~ Obies  
  • ~ Chain Cohn Clark
  • ~ Humphrey and Thompson Law Firm  

NDD 2023 Portable Dance Barre Sponsors:

  • ~ Civic Dance Center  
  • ~ Dancer’s Turnout Academy



PREVIEW EVENT: September 13, 2023 at Iron Lily 
MAIN EVENT: October 19, 2023 at Mill Creek Park
22 Artists
75 Attendees

Taste of Dance Overview:

In collaboration with the Bakersfield Downtown Business Association, Kern Dance Alliance (KDA) held Taste of Dance, a wonderful community event aimed to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Kern County through dance and cuisines. This event fostered cultural awareness of global diversity and promoted cultural appreciation within Kern County. This event showcased five unique dance traditions: American Line Dance, Indian Bhangra, Mexican Traditional Folklorico, Polynesian Hula, and Turkish Belly Dancing. The program featured captivating dance performances followed by engaging dance lessons given by the performers, and offered attendees the opportunity to savor the respective cultural cuisines, creating an immersive experience.

Envisioned by KDA Jr. Board Member Noor El Kereamy, Taste of Dance was created to celebrate the unique cultural diversity within Kern County and to help our community recognize that our differences can serve as a unifying factor between us all.

​​”Growing up and moving between countries such as Canada, Egypt, and America, I’ve come to appreciate not only the unique cultures each background offers but also my personal roots. It’s not just a source of pride; I consider culture a personal asset.” – Noor ElKereamy

Taste of Dance Preview Event:

The Taste of Dance Preview event at Taste of Downtown brought our community together as we learned and danced a line dancing routine, embracing an important facet of American culture. The event featured the talented guest teacher, Anais Cordebard, whose outstanding accomplishments included qualifying for the USLDCC 2021-2022 Nationals with her own line dances and earning a spot on the 2023 Stagecoach Honkytonk Dance Team. Anais’s belief that line dancing is a joyful and inclusive activity for all, regardless of age or skill level, gave everyone the most memorable experience. With approximately 250 attendees, the event not only served as a prelude to the upcoming Taste of Dance on October 19th but also created a memorable shared experience of learning and dancing a line dance together. 

Taste of Dance Main Event:

Held at the Mill Creek Park, our event was an open invitation to everyone, providing a showcase of our cultural diversity through dance. At our event booth, we offered bites of dishes representing the four cultures featured in the dance performances: Indian Bhangra, Mexican Traditional Folklorico, Polynesian Hula, and Turkish Belly Dancing.

The heart of the event was the performances on the Bakersfield City pop-up stage, where talented artists from each culture showcased their beautiful dance traditions. What made this event truly special was that it offered the audience a chance to take part in these dances. Following each performance, the audience joined the performers on the dance floor, learning and dancing short segments of these cultural dances.

With a turnout of about 300 participants, our event proved the power of cultural celebration and unity.

Each cultural dance brought its unique flavor to the event:

  1. ~ For Indian Bhangra, we had the privilege of hosting Katrina Ji, an internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer known for her expertise in Rajasthani Folk & Bollywood Fusion. Her energy and passion was captivating to the entire audience.

  2. ~ Mexican Traditional Folklorico was represented by Ballet Folklorico Ihtotiani de Shafter, a program dedicated to inspiring students to learn about art, history, culture, language, dance movement, performance, and the various regions of Mexico. Their commitment to sharing the beauty of Mexican heritage was so inspiring.

  3. ~ Polynesian Hula was performed by Aloha Entertainment by Polynesian Spice. With over 25 years of experience as a Hawaiian dance school composed of family and polynesians at heart, they have shared the culture, songs, and dances of the Pacific Islands here in Kern County, spreading their love for the art form.

  4. ~ Turkish Belly Dancing was a wonderful part of our event, featuring Nilay Engin, a teacher and performer in California who has gone to judge and compete internationally, holding many awards in various belly dancing forms. She offered a blend of Turkish Belly dancing at our event, showcasing her true passion for her unique culture. 

Overall, “Taste of Dance” demonstrated the power of the arts in celebrating diversity and fostering community unity. It made an impact on our community by promoting cultural awareness and appreciation, leaving a lasting legacy of unity and celebration of the wonderful diversity we have here, in Kern County.


November 15, 2023
Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater
52 Artists

KDA was proud to host the Children’s Dance Education and Outreach Event on November 15 at the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater. This Children’s Dance Event is all about GIVING BACK to Kern County the best way we know how. . . through movement and dance!

This private event benefitted local children from organizations that serve the underserved by closing the arts gap and making the arts more accessible via an afternoon of arts-centric programming at one of Kern County’s most treasured theaters, the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater!

Kern County dance studios and artists presented a rich community performance.  The artists included Yo Yo Jatt Bangra, Dancer’s Turnout Academy, Dance Fitness and Healing Arts Studio, DAT Krew, Noor Elkereamy, Emylee Wright, Andrew Rosales, and Katherine Mills. 

The performance showcased a number of different dance styles including Indian Bhangra, hip hop, jazz, and contemporary dance. Additionally, the performance featured participants with and without disabilities from the KDA ADAPTidance: DANCE + DISABILITY program. Kern County dancers also assisted in teaching the children choreography and partaking in a Q&A session.

In collaboration with the Fox Theater Foundation, the Children’s Dance Education and Outreach Event provided children with a live dance performance, dance class + choreography, and the opportunity to perform on the Fox stage. Additionally, children were provided afternoon snacks donated by Grimmway Farms and were given a commemorative t-shirt.

December 11 – 15, 2023
Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC)
29 Participants 
1 Dance/Movement Therapist
5 Artists

KDA and the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Inc. (ADAKC) were proud to announce the return of the MemoryMOVES®: DANCE + THERAPY program for memory-impaired clients. After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the organizations are gearing up to offer a program that uses Dance/Movement Therapy as a mode of creative expression and empowerment to improve cognitive function and quality of life for clients experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.

Led by a registered Dance/Movement Therapist from the American Dance Movement Therapy Association, Elena Rezai, MemoryMOVES will be offered daily from 10:00 – 11:00 am on December 11 – 15, 2023 at ADAKC. Celebrating the holiday spirit, the program will feature a Nutcracker theme and will also include opportunities for caregivers to experience the transformative power of Dance/Movement Therapy while learning techniques to apply to their own lives. The event will culminate in a final performance at the end of the session featuring Nutcracker-themed performances for the clients and caregivers to enjoy.

The goals of MemoryMOVES are to increase cognitive function and recall, functional mobility and increase range of motion, support a mind/body connection, provide relief from depression and anxiety by increasing joy and happiness, brighten the client’s affect, and increase social interaction.

“Bringing back MemoryMOVES with ADAKC during the holiday season is a true gift! I can’t wait to observe our Dance/Movement Therapist, Elena, tie in the sounds and sights of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with her curriculum to enhance the client’s cognitive function!” – Andrea Hansen, KDA Executive Director
“MemoryMoves is a gift that keeps on giving! Grateful to KDA and their community sponsors for helping us spread the Christmas cheer for local families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Plus, how special to share in the season with a Nutcracker theme.” -Janelle Capra, Executive Director, ADAKC

MemoryMOVES was generously funded by the Arts Council of Kern County and the Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust.

Program Overview:

MEMORY Moves was a 5 day Dance/Movement Therapy program working with the Alzheimers and Dementia population at ADAKC. The program utilized a Dance/Movement Therapist (DMT) to work with 29 enrolled participants over 5 days, culminating in a Nutcracker-themed performance that included clients, caregivers and staff. Groups met daily from 10:00-11:00 am. Groups included all clients that were present each day, and staff assisted to make sure that all clients were part of the group. Clients ranged from fairly high functioning (more ambulatory, with higher cognitive functioning,) to lower functioning, (low range of motion or confined to a wheelchair, with severe memory impairment.)  

Group Structure:

All Memory Moves groups began with the therapist orienting the group to time and place (i.e. “Today is Monday, December 11, at 10:00am,”) and a check-in question to assess clients’ mood and level of functioning on that particular day and time. Following this, the therapist led the group in a gentle warm up, addressing mobility and helping to bring clients into the present moment through use of rhythm and kinesthetic awareness. This was followed by ‘thematic development,’ an improvisational time where clients formed a sense of group cohesion through movement. At times, props such as scarves or instruments were used, and at other times, clients were invited to stand up and dance. Dance/therapy techniques specific to Alzheimer’s and Dementia were practiced, including asking clients to come up with their own unique movements and sequencing them to create a dance that the group could repeat and practice. This allowed clients to practice creative decision-making and self-expression. Throughout the week, we also practiced dances that were co-choreographed by the therapist and clients that were performed at the final culminating Nutcracker performance on the last day of the program. We were joined by dancers from the Bakersfield City Ballet, who performed two dances, while the clients, with the help of myself and staff, performed two other dances using scarves and silk flowers as props. It was a very memorable and special conclusion to the week. 


Memory Moves measured progress in 6 areas: 1. Brightened Affect, 2. Relief from Depression/Anxiety, 3. Functional Mobility and Increased Range of Motion, 4. Increased Social Interaction, 5. Increased Cognitive Functioning and Recall, and 6. Mind/Body Connection. Progress notes were recorded for each client for each group during the week, and reflected changes noticed from the beginning to end of group.


  1. Brightened Affect –
    1. 27/29 clients (93%) displayed consistently brighter affect during each group attended, while 2/29 clients (7%) had no visible change in affect. 

  2. Relief from Depression/Anxiety –
    1. 29/29 clients (100%) displayed consistently reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, displaying things such as “increased alertness, Increased participation, talking more, laughter, smiling, more upright posture, reduced agitation, calmer demeanor, and reduced fidgeting.”

  3. Functional Mobility and Increased Range of Motion –
    1. 26/29 clients (90%) displayed consistently increased range of motion and functional mobility, while 3/29 clients (10%) did not display a change in their range of motion.

  4. Increased Social Interaction
    1. 28/29 clients (97%) displayed increased social interaction, as evidenced by increased eye contact, acknowledging other clients/therapist/staff, and/or participating in group or partner dances with clients/therapist/staff, while 1/29 clients (3%) did not show increased social interaction.

  5. Increased Cognitive Functioning and Recall –
    1. 29/29 clients (100%) displayed one or more indicators of increased cognitive functioning and recall. Indicators observed included clients’ ability to verbally state orienting facts (name, date, etc,) ability to recall short term information such as choreographic patterns or sequences, ability to incorporate verbal cues into movement output, ability to recall long term information such as facts or memories from the past, and ability to verbally or somatically express how they are feeling.

  6. Mind/Body Connection –
    1. 28/29 clients (97%) displayed increased mind/body connection, as observed by responding appropriately through movement to verbal prompts and cues from the therapist, while 1/29 clients (3%) did not display an increased mind/body connection. 

Clients Reported:

  • Several higher-functioning clients reported looking forward to Memory Moves every day, and expressed happiness upon seeing the dance therapist every day, at times saying “it’s good to see you again!” and at the end of the week, “thank you for coming and working with us this week.”
  • On the day of the final performance, after Bakersfield City Ballet had performed, one client said “now it’s our turn!” which indicated orientation to reality, as well as memory recall.

Additional Comments offered by Staff about Clients

  • ~ “She was so happy” and “She was smiling more than usual.” 
  • ~ “She usually gets stiff, but was moving more.”
  • ~ “Client had a lot of fun.” 
  • ~ “Client was participating and staying awake all the time.” 
  • ~ “She doesn’t usually participate by herself, but she looked like she enjoyed participating. She was moving a lot more because she loves music and dancing.”
  • ~ “Client usually doesn’t move well with our regular exercise, but she loves to dance.” 


Memory Moves allowed clients to break from their normal routine in order to experience the transformative effects of dance. Over the week, clients looked forward to Memory Moves every day, and were able to consistently engage in groups. Clients displayed an ability to make creative movement choices, and an ability to remember short movement sequences. Sessions were marked by joy and laughter, and there was a noticeable difference in the group dynamic from the start to end of each group, with participants appearing happier, more engaged, and more relaxed after having moved and danced.  

KDA Community Grants + Scholarship Program

KDA was pleased to award the following grants and scholarships to deserving Kern County dance artists and organizations:

KDA Grant:

  • Tatou Uma Polynesian Dance

KDA Scholarship:

  • Emylee Wright – Tiler Peck Summer Intensive
  • Myah Smallwood – DANCENATION Ballet Summer Camp

KDA had a very active year full of presentations, promotions, and advocacy! 

  • ~ Created a KDA 2023 PSA on KGET
  • ~ Presenter at California Dance Education Association State Conference: Fullerton, CA. – January 13
  • ~ Awardee at International Women’s Day, Chevron Headquarters, March 18
  • ~ Presented on “Do The Math” television show – March 29
  • ~ California Arts Advocacy Day Attendee: Sacramento, CA – April 18
  • ~ Presenter at Executive Administrators of Kern County – May 23
  • ~ Kern County Board of Supervisors Proclaims July 2023 Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACY MONTH
  • ~ Presenter atBakersfield West Rotary – September 13
  • ~ KDA featured as cover image for California Arts Council report entitled Equity Challenges in California’s Arts Ecosystem”.
  • ~ Presenter at Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary – November 7
  • ~ KDA was featured on local media outlets featuring 2023 KDA programs: KGET, KBAK, FOX 58, KUZZ, The Bakersfield Californian, and Bakersfield Life Magazine

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