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What is The Experiment?

The Experiment is a radically unique dance workshop spanning multiple weeks, levels, and dances. Now in its seventh year, the Balboa portion alone has grown to four separate weeks accommodating a total of 120 participants, from intermediate through masters. Key features include:

  • Up to thirty participants each week live, dance, and play in a luxurious oceanfront estate.
  • Sessions focus on individual interests and goals through small-group exercises to build self-awareness and explore alternatives.
  • A faculty including top international professionals serve as moderators and coaches, together with veteran and up-and-coming dancers featured through the Guest Mentor Program.
  • Each day contains a balance of sessions with ample free time, occasional electives and roundtable discussions, and social dancing every night.
  • Truly international, The Experiment regularly attracts participants from at least fifteen countries across four continents, with more than half of participants coming from outside the US.

In the end, the question “What is The Experiment?” has many answers. It is a unique opportunity spend a week being challenged and inspired by peers from around the world. It is the premiere workshop for dance geeks, by dance geeks (once described as a cross between MIT and Wonka’s factory, but for Balboa). It is the luxury swing dance camp, yet priced similarly to other week-long camps. It may or may not be home to an inflatable pink unicorn. Ultimately, it is the world’s most intimate and intensive Balboa workshop.

 
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Faculty

Each week features four to six faculty members together with one to three Guest Mentors and one Head DJ.

Nick Williams
David Rehm
Kate Hedin
Robert White
Laura Keat
Jeremy Otth
Shani Brown

Senior Head DJ Kyle Smith
Head DJ Kate Hedin
Head DJ Marc D’Olimpio

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Becoming a Participant

Now that The Experiment can accommodate as many as 120 Balboa dancers across four weeks, there has never been a better chance to become a participant.

  • Candidates can be anywhere from intermediate through masters level. (This includes Balboa dancers as well as other kinds of advanced/master dancers who may be interested in Balboa.)
  • Candidates do NOT have to be teachers or competitors. The Experiment is designed for anyone who is enthusiastic about dancing and working on their Balboa.
  • Candidates do NOT need a partner to apply or to participate–around half of all participants attend without one.

Participants are selected and placed into a specific week through an online application process. This serves much like a level test at a traditional workshop with a few main differences. First, the selection process has to be done months in advance and therefore online, without the benefit of having all candidates in the same room. Second, building successful small groups for this kind of environment requires balancing a much wider range of considerations, including interests and personalities, in addition to overall level.

Ideal candidates are simply those who, through a combination of their dancing and attitude, inspire others to want to participate with them in the same week (both on and off the dance floor). General traits the panel of judges look for include self-awareness, self-motivation, and the ability to cooperate and treat others respectfully. Beyond these basic traits there is no required personality type–candidates may be more introverted, extroverted, analytical, creative, etc.

Applying is free and includes a range of questions about an applicant’s background and interests along with a request for sample video. Just like in a level test, dancing in the video does not have to be flashy or impressive and is used simply to observe core mechanics and overall quality of motion. (Many applicants film themselves in their living room or at a social dance, or one may use non-choreographed contest/exhibition footage.) While not absolutely required, submitted video can often be a determining factor in the evaluation process and is strongly recommended for anyone below masters level.

Finally, it is important to understand that The Experiment receives many more qualified applications than can be accommodated in a single year. This means that not being accepted does not necessarily indicate or imply an applicant is unqualified. Often, applicants must be turned away simply due to the sheer number and distribution of applications for a given year (including relative levels, lead-follow balance, spectrum of interests, etc). Over time, both through the addition of weeks and as dancers naturally progress through the scene, The Experiment continues to offer new dancers the chance to participate while keeping the same intimate format.

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