Andrew Vaca (Department Chair, Professor) began teaching at CSULB in 1999 after teaching at UCLA, Scripps College, Sacramento State University, and the Orange County High School of the Arts. He holds a B.A. degree in Communication Studies from Sacramento State University and an M.F.A. in Dance from UCLA. In the Department of Dance, Professor Vaca is known as a jazz dance specialist, teaching jazz technique classes regularly. Other courses that Vaca teaches include Creative Dance for Children, Dance Pedagogy, Improvisation, and all levels of Modern Dance Technique. In 2007, he became the Assistant Department Chair of Dance, was Interim Chair in 2011-12, and is currently in his sixth year as Department Chair. A native of Sacramento CA, Vaca began dancing with Dale Scholl in the Jazz-ee Dance Company, and later in Jazzworks and Dale Scholl Dance/Art. Since leaving Sacramento, Vaca has danced with the UCLA Dance Company, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Keith Johnson/Dancers, Bodytalk, and Roman DanceTheatre. At CSULB, Vaca has had the privilege of dancing for choreographers Keith Johnson, Susan McLain, and Dan Wagoner. Dance teachers who have greatly influenced Vaca’s career include Terri Best, Ronald E. Brown, Pat Catterson, MaDonna Grimes, Sharon Kinney, Doug Nielsen, Dale Scholl, Risa Steinberg, Dan Wagoner, and Joan Woodbury.
As a choreographer, Vaca is known in the worlds of both sports entertainment and concert dance. Since 1999, Vaca has premiered 20 original dances for the CSULB Department of Dance. He has received commissions from the Nannette Brodie Dance Theater and Pulse Dance Company. His choreography has also been produced at the Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Desert, the South Coast Dance Arts Alliance Festival, the WAC is Back Festival at UCLA, and most recently at the SoCal Dance Invitational at the Ford Amphitheater. In 2004, he was Assistant Choreographer on two episodes of Molly Shannon’s sitcom, “Cracking Up!” In the world of concert dance, Professor Vaca has worked as an assistant to Tony Award winner Twyla Tharp, and has choreographed material for Ririe-Woodbury’s Momentum concert, Bodytalk, and Roman DanceTheatre, as well as the University of Utah, Texas A&M, the Orange County High School of the Arts, Scripps College, and UCLA. Vaca created six original works for the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive workshop between 2008 and 2014. In 2005, Vaca founded Jazzworks-Long Beach as a pick-up company of dancers dedicated to presenting concert jazz dance, and he continues to present work with JLB when time allows. Vaca is the President of the American College Dance Association, the largest organization for dance in higher education in the US and has served as the Vice-President of the Council of Dance Administrators. One of Vaca’s favorite summer activities is being a featured teacher for the L.A. Music Center’s Dance Downtown summer series where he has taught dance to thousands of Angelenos during Disco Night, 60’s Night, 80’s Night, and 90’s Night.
For over 30 years, Vaca has choreographed dances for NBA and NFL dance teams including the Los Angeles Laker Girls, Clippers Spirit, Boston Celtics dancers, the Portland Trailblazerdancers, the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders, the Sacramento Kings Fastbreak, the San Diego Charger Girls, the Indiana Pacemates, and the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush. As a part of his on-going connection to the Boston Celtics Dancers, Vaca was featured in a 2010 reality series on Comcast Sports, The Celtics Dancers: the Dance for 18. Vaca has had the privilege of choreographing large halftime spectaculars for the NFL through e2k Entertainment, including the 2001 and 2007 United Way Thanksgiving halftime shows for the Detroit Lions and the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl. Vaca has choreographed award-winning material for dance teams in California, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, presented at numerous professional dance team conventions, and has choreographed for the Texas All-State Dance Team and the Drill Team Directors of America All-Star Dance Team. Vaca has been professionally associated with the United Spirit Association/Varsity Spirit for over 30 years as a head instructor and director of dance, and continues his association with USA and Varsity as an adjudicator of national and international competitions. In 2010, Vaca joined the teaching faculty of Pro Action Dance, the leader of professional sports choreography, where he continues to choreograph material for pro sports team worldwide, and for high school dancers at Pro Action Prep.