NEWSLETTER — December 2017

KDA is closing out 2017 and we could not be more thrilled with our local impact in our second year of operation!  Over 6000 community members reached, new programs launched, scholarships provided, and a Beautiful Bakersfield Award Nomination made for a wonderful year.  KDA invites you to read our 2017 Year In Review – a wrap up of all our programs and partnerships all in the name of service to the arts in Kern County.

As 2018 approaches, KDA is gearing up to announce our new season!  Save the Date for our Season Preview Party on January 28, 2017 at Bakersfield Country Club.

Interested in receiving the 2018 KDA Season Brochure?  Send KDA an email with your name and address and we will happily add you to the list.  Don’t forget, KDA is seeking new Board Members and Student Interns– applications are due January 15.



Spring 2017 Class

To date, Kern Dance Alliance has graduated a total of 97 SHINE Girls and Mentors.  As the only branch in California and on the West Coast, KDA is proud to offer the SHINE program free of charge to all participants thanks to the generous funding of sponsors and private donations including Chevron, Junior League of Bakersfield, The Women’s and Girls’ Fund of Kern County/Kern Community Foundation, Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust, Bakersfield Californian Foundation, Sean and Jennifer Maguire, and Garces Memorial High School.

Spring 2017: April 1- May 20 – Spring served 19 girls and 9 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/post-test results:
93% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
100% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.

Fall 2017: September 9-October 28 – Fall served 22 girls and 6 mentors

Session results according to SHINE pre/post-test results:
95% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement their math skills.
100% of SHINE Girls reported an improvement in their confidence level.
95% of SHINE parents have stated that their girls reported a heightened interest in STEM and dance.

Apart from measurable results, KDA has learned the greatest from SHINE Mentor testimonials at the culmination of each session:

I am so proud to be part of SHINE for girls. I learned how to be patient when trying to teach the girls new concepts. It was difficult sometimes to explain some problems, but when the girls would understand and make the connection, it was the best feeling. I hope the girls learned math can be understood through reason and little tricks to help them. I learned I enjoy teaching and talking to younger people. I was in the same position as the girls, and I wish SHINE was in Bakersfield for my time. The girls are more confident in the way they speak, the way they interact, and with their attitude to learn. My interest in STEM has heightened. The session is helpful to my choice in career. I want to be a pediatrician because I enjoy learning medicine, and I enjoy talking to kids. I am glad I was able to share my passion for learning not only academics, but the passion of dance with girls. Dance boosted my self-confidence and I know it had the same effect with the girls. My SHINE girls were shy and after the session they love to talk. After the six weeks, I hope they remember me and the impact I made in their futures. I would love to return as a SHINE mentor for the fall 2017 session next year. – Mikaela Cardenas

Being a SHINE mentor has been incredibly fun and educational! Every Saturday I wake up excited and ready to engage with the SHINE girls. I loved watching the girls come out of their shells as they grow in both their math and dance abilities. There are many aspects of STEM that appeal to me. Currently I’m focused on the PLTW Engineering program at Centennial High School. The process of bringing my ideas to life with via engineering, math, technology and science is exciting! I like mentoring for one specific reason, the “ah-ha” moment. That look when their eyes light up you can almost see that a door had been opened in their mind. Being an introvert, I would say that being a SHINE mentor has also helped me to come out of my own mind and engage with others. The girls and I have formed a bond, we feel empowered when we come together. The SHINE program is great, that is my feedback. I would definitely want to be a mentor for the spring and fall sessions of 2017. – Victoria McFarland

Being a part of SHINE has not only been fun, but it has been such a great experience. Mentoring the girls, I learned about their strengths and weaknesses, and I helped them when they were struggling. In this process, I assessed my strengths and weaknesses and worked with the girls to overcome difficulties. All of the girls brought their own personality each week, and watching them have fun was the best part of my weekly session. SHINE has been a great opportunity for me, and I hope to see other girls experience the same. Elise Wurtman

Fall 2017 Class

Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACY

Mojave Movement and Arts in “Where The Wild Things Are”

Books in Motion: DANCE + LITERACY was a pilot program that linked dance and literacy by focusing on Common Core Standards for Reading Literature for children, K-3rd, commencing the summer of 2017.   In collaboration with the Kern County Library and Kern Literacy Council, families had the opportunity to visit Kern County library branches and watch a dance performance based upon a well-known children’s book. Post-performance, children engaged in kinesis by learning choreography and created a craft that coincides with the book’s theme. At the culmination of the session, children were divided into groups based upon age/level and posed questions to evaluate their comprehension. Lastly, children were able to take their own copy of the book home.  Books in Motion was offered for FREE to all participants.

Kern County dance organizations, Dancer’s Turnout Academy, Downtown Dance Arts, and Mojave Movement Arts Center applied to be the official Books in Motion performers. Dance organizations were responsible for choosing a story from the Books in Motion bibliography, create a performance reflecting the story, and choreograph a 1 to 2-minute dance that relates to the story to teach the participating children.

Books in Motion was well received by the Kern County community and achieved excellent results:

585 Children + Families Reached
254 FREE Books Provided
24 Dancers
9 Performances

IMMEASURABLE Impact on Kern County Families.

Books in Motion was made possible through generous support from the Bakersfield Californian Foundation, Terra-Gen Wind Farm, Golden Queen Mining Company, and the Arts Council of Kern County.





3rd Annual Children’s Outreach event at the Fox Theater

November 2017 Children’s Outreach Event

KDA was pleased to host the third annual Children’s Dance Education and Outreach Event at the Fox Theater on November 16, 2017.   Generous support from the Arts Council of Kern, Chevron, Fox Theater Foundation, Grimmway Farms, Western Graphics, and Sub Station Downtown provided KDA with the opportunity to create an afternoon of smiles and joy for all that participated in the event!

  • 93 children from the Boys and Girls Club, CASA, Bakersfield Homeless Center, and Garden Pathways attended an exciting afternoon of dance at the Fox
  • Over 60 dancers from all over Kern County performed and taught the children to dance
  • 35 volunteers participated in the event
  • Children participated in a live dance performance by several Kern dance companies (Bakersfield Dance Company, Experience Dance, McKinley Folklorico Ballet, Dancer’s Turnout Academy, The Beat Dance Complex, SHINE for Girls: MATH + DANCE= SUCCESS, and ADAPTIdance: DANCE + DISABILITY)
  • Children learned about the history of the Fox (Fox Theater Foundation President, Melanie Farmer, gave a kid-friendly history)
  • Children participated in a dance class and learned choreography
  • Children then performed the choreography on the famous Fox stage
  • Children participated in a Q/A session with the dancers
  • KDA offered scholarships to the children for an entire year of dance training at a dance studio of their choice
  • Children were treated to snacks donated by Grimmway Farms and were given commemorative Children’s Dance Education + Outreach shirts donated by Western Graphics
  • Lunch for the performers and volunteers was generously donated by Sub Station Downtown







KDA and the League of Dreams teamed up this year to bring the first dance and disability program to Kern County.

Axis Dance Company

On May 6, 2017, KDA and the League of Dreams hosted one of the world’s most acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities, AXIS Dance Company.  AXIS inspired diverse populations to dance while providing creative dance classes, a professional development course geared toward educators working with diverse populations, and a professional dance performance.  The weekend drew over 80 children with mental and physical disabilities to experience the joy of movement at Garces Memorial High School.

Fresh off the heels of the Spring 2017 AXIS Dance Company residency, KDA and the League of Dreams offered a 5-week dance + disability program. ADAPTIdance participants learned inclusive and creative dances that were accessible and adaptable for movers with and without physical and developmental disabilities. The program culminated with a performance at the historic Bakersfield Fox Theater.

ADAPTIdance was taught by dance educator, Sakina Hansford, who was trained by the world’s leading dance + disability dance company, AXIS Dance Company. 11 Dance Interns from dance studios across Kern County assisted in also teaching the classes.  ADAPTIdance served 60 dancers with mental and physical disables.

ADAPTIdance is the only dance and disability program available for children with mental and physical disabilities in Kern County and was made possible through generous support from Chain Cohen and Stiles, Chevron, and Garces Memorial High School.

KDA’s Annual Summer Dance Camp

KDA, in partnership with Garden Pathways, continued arts mentoring services for at-risk youth through the KDA + Garden Pathways Summer Dance Camp July 21-23, 2017. The dance camp focused on professional dance artists and the trends they are setting in the international field of dance.   Guest artists represented different dance disciplines: Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Music Theory. Four elements were featured: master classes, laboratory sessions, choreography, and the final dance showcase.  Dance students across Kern County partook in the Summer Dance Camp.  The Summer Dance Camp culminated in a final performance and guest artists Q&A open to the community.

Guest artists attending the Summer Dance Camp included:

Originally from North Carolina, Allyssa Bross is a Principal Dancer with the Los Angeles Ballet. Along with dancing, Allyssa has been featured on several television commercials, shows, and magazines and is a published author in Simon and Schuster’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Power of Positive.”

Joe Joe Grooves Smith received his BFA in Dance Performance in Jazz from East Carolina University in 2004, he has become an accomplished professional commercial hip hop dancer who’s worked with major artists such as Paula Abdul, Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry, KeKe Palmer, Latin Popstar Chayanne, Sugarland, Tisha Campbell Martin, and Nicki Minaj.

Ms. Knight is on faculty at the USC, Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. She was a featured dancer in Disney’s Broadway Musical, The Lion King.

Dr. Suzanne Knosp is a Professor of Dance and Music Director for Dance at the University of Arizona. She teaches courses in music and dance and accompanies dance technique classes. Her recordings for dance class are available from Princeton Book Company Publishers.

The Summer Dance Camp was made possible through support from the Bakersfield Californian Foundation, Arts Council of Kern, Padre Hotel, and Garces Memorial High School.


To date, KDA has received applications from 7 Kern County dancers seeking induction into the National Honors Society for Dance Arts.  As the only NHSDA Chapter in Central California, KDA looks forward to inducting high school seniors during a luncheon in April 2018.


KDA was pleased to provide $850 in scholarships to Kern County dancers seeking assistance to support their dance training.

I want to take the opportunity to thank Kern Dance Alliance for supporting dancers in the community like myself. It was such an honor to be a recipient of the scholarship which allowed me to attend Bay Pointe Ballet Company’s 2017 Summer Intensive, something that I once thought would be just a dream, but thanks to you, that dream became a reality.

Lena Smallwood- Bay Pointe Ballet Summer Intensive: San Francisco, CA.


KDA has made a difference in my life and has given me the opportunity to learn from the top professionals in the dance industry. The hip hop dance instructor challenged me to try new things and I enjoyed it.

Aeralyn Rivera- Kern Dance Alliance + Garden Pathways Summer Dance Camp: Bakersfield, CA.


It is clearer now what will be required to be accepted into a good university dance program or what it takes to become a professional dancer. It doesn’t matter how many trophies you earn from dance competitions, what matters most is having good academics and a strong work ethic, showing maturity and leadership, and always giving your very best effort and pouring your heart out in dance with confidence.

Amanda Bagley- 2 Days in the OC Convention: Orange County, CA.  

KDA Board Members (Andrea Chesley, Andrea Hansen, Fara Lundin) attended the California Dance Education Association State Conference held at the University of California, Irvine in January 2017.  The state conference boats over 500 attendees from dance and arts programs across California.  KDA presented to conference attendees about our dance advocacy efforts in Kern County.  The KDA presentation was so well received by the attendees that KDA was singled out as an inspiration for other California communities during the wrap up ceremony on the final day.  Additionally, Dance Major seniors from Loyola Marymount University decided to include KDA in their senior thesis and prosed details questions to the KDA Board of Directors for inclusion in their research.  Finally, KDA was honored to have Misty Copeland’s famed first dance teacher from the San Pedro Boys and Girls Club in attendance during our presentation.

KDA hosted auditions for the 2017 Bay Pointe Ballet Summer Intensive.  Located in San Francisco, dancers (8 years +) were invited to audition for the summer session: July 10-August 4.  Local dancers attended the audition and a total of 5 dancers were offered acceptance into the program, including KDA Members Lena Smallwood and Aeralyn Rivera.  Lena Smallwood was able to attend the summer intensive with the support of a KDA Scholarship, as well as the support of the Kern County community through a GoFundMe initiative.

KDA was nominated for an “Arts and Culture” Award at the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards in June 2017.  While KDA did not receive the award, the recognition as a contender in the category was truly an award!  The Bakersfield Museum of Art “Driven by Art” project was selected as the awardee.


KDA was chosen as 1 of 11 Kern County nonprofits to be highlighted during the Kern Community Foundation/Bakersfield Young Professionals 2017 ‘Philanthropy on Tap’ Series.  KDA informed the community about our dance advocacy work and the various programs KDA offers.  Attendees enjoyed complimentary wine and appetizers while learning more about KDA. The event was held at Imbibe Wine Bar and was open and free to the public.

KDA sent 3 lucky KDA Members and a guest to go behind the scenes of BalletNOW at the Music Center LA in July 2017. Starring Bakersfield-born, New York City Ballet Principal Dancer, Tiler Peck, BalletNOW incorporated renowned dancers pushing the boundaries in a mix of iconic and contemporary ballets by some of the most revered choreographers. Ms. Peck led an exciting roster of dance superstars for three distinct performances. Ms. Peck brings exquisite grace, energy, and unmatched artistry from her Bakersfield-beginnings to her meteoric rise as one of the youngest principal dancers of the New York City Ballet.

KDA participated as a panelist in discussing philanthropy in Kern County at the first annual Bakersfield Young Professionals Summit in May 2017.  KDA Board Member, Marcie Hronis, spoke about KDA’s work alongside representatives from Wellspring Church, Wind Wolves Preserve, and CASA.

KDA assisted CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in finding a choreographer for the COUPLES for CASA Fundraiser on October 7.  David Moreno, local choreographer and dance educator, was hired to create five dances for five couples.  Featuring the Honorable Robert Anspach and his wife Rosemary, as well as 4 other couples, David choreographed a short dance representing a variety of 90s decades.  Over 250 attendees enjoyed the evening while total money raised was $136,000 which will help provide 42 more children with their very own CASA for one year.

KDA provided the dance entertainment for the 2nd Annual “Farm to Table(aux)” a fundraiser supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County on October 6.  With support from Dignity Health, KDA was thrilled to add to the event’s theme of “Da Vinci” by hosting dancers from the world-renown dance company, Pilobolus, to recreate Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”. Over 450 guests enjoyed a tableaux performance by Pilobolus, as well as a specially choreographed duet for the opening of the evening’s program. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County serve 17,934 annually.  KDA was honored to assist in their fundraising efforts and applauds the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County for raising $323,498.00 at Farm to Table(aux)!
The day after the event, the dancers from Pilobolus treated the Kern County community with a performance, master class, and Q&A session at the dance studio at Garces Memorial High School.

Natalie Lovan

Natalie Lovan

I would like to start by saying thank you to the KDA board members for taking me as their 2017 Student Intern. This opportunity has given me a real-world experience of working and allowed me to further my passion for dance. I have thoroughly enjoyed participating as a key member of the KDA board- both at the meetings and the events we facilitate. As a teenager my opinions and suggestions are often times disregarded among adults; however my voice was always heard by these lovely ladies. Being the intern made me feel important not only as a board member but also as an involved citizen of Bakersfield. KDA plans and participates in a plethora of impactful, life-changing programs for our community, and I am immensely grateful for getting to be a part of the organization. As the end of my year as the intern closes I find myself reminiscing on the laughter filled, yet productive monthly meetings and the inspiring events we put on. The board members are not only my professional teammates; they are my mentors, and furthermore my role models for whom I want to become as I get older. I will miss being the student intern for KDA, and I wish the next intern luck as they join this amazing organization.


Whether you are a dancer, studio owner or arts connoisseur, KDA is here for you.

  • HOW TO GET A SCHOLARSHIP:  If you’re interested in receiving a scholarship for your school, a workshop or even a summer intensive programs, KDA can help.  We offer scholarships up to $500 – apply directly on our website – click here!
  • HOW TO GET EVENTS POSTED: Studios, organizations and students are all able to have any and all events added to the KDA calendar!  All you need to do is email about your event, include all details and any image you’d prefer and it will be posted on the KDA calendarFYI: in the near future, you will be able to post events yourself directly to KDA’s event page 
  • HOW TO FIND OR POST A JOB:  On KDA’s site we have a job board that lists casting, employment and internship opportunities!  To have something added to the job board, please email
  • HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER: Want to receive membership perks like tickets to great events? Want to be able to receive a scholarship?  Want to collaborate and be involved with events that help arts and dance in our community?  Want to be able to access all Kern County dance events in one place?  It’s just $25/yr for individuals, $50/yr for organizations and $100/yr for venues.  Become a member!
  • HOW TO DONATE:  Want to help KDA programming like the dance education and outreach program at The Fox Theater this fall?  In November, KDA will host performance and dance classes  for underprivileged children in partnership with Garden Pathways, The Boys and Girls Club and Bakersfield Homeless Center.  Donate here or email us if you’d like to personally get involved!
  • HOW TO SHARE WHAT KDA IS DOING:  KDA would love you to share what we are doing!  Follow us and share what’s going on – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course email links to our website or newsletter.
  • HOW CAN KDA HELP YOU?  If you want to collaborate, we have community connections and would be happy to help.  Just shoot us a note and let us know what you as an individual or your organization needs help with, we will see what we can do!

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