In April 2013, The Experiment will celebrate five years and over ten weeks while moving to an amazing new location. Applications are now: closed.
The Experiment is a radically unique, highly intensive Balboa workshop featuring small, select groups of participants together with top professionals of our generation in an extraordinary live+work+play environment.
In 2009 we launched starting with just a single week and 24 participants in a luxury beach house. For 2010 through 2012 we moved to a larger property, expanded to multiple weeks/levels with a different set of participants each week, and began developing what would become the guest mentor program. Now in its fifth year, in April 2013 we are moving once again to our most expansive property yet and will host three separate weeks of 28–30 participants each (up to 90 total spots available).
In place of traditional classes, The Experiment features an ever-evolving set of special sessions developed to take advantage of this unique environment. Primarily student driven, these sessions emphasize self-motivation and group collaboration, with the staff serving as moderators, coaches and fellow participants. In the words of one attendee, "The Experiment is what I wish every Master's class would be, but can't. It is a truly unique learning experience." (See 'Testimonials' for more.)
Each day contains a balance of these sessions with unstructured free time and social dancing every night. Other activities include electives and round table discussions (on topics such as music & DJ'ing or scene building), as well as peer exhibitions and formal nights spread throughout the week.
The Experiment is hosted by David Rehm in conjunction with a core staff featuring: Nick Williams, Kate Hedin & Bobby White, Laura Keat & Jeremy Otth, and Head DJ Kyle Smith. Additional special guests include: Marty & Jen Lau and Randy Maestretti & Kara Britt, along with several exemplary higher-level participants who will be chosen to serve as guest mentors to other weeks. (Guests/mentors participate for a week at a time and change between weeks.)
For the first year, with only one week & 24 spots, competition was extremely high and attracted many top dancers from around the world (many of whom were also teachers and/or high level competitors, although these have never been requirements).
Now with three weeks and more than triple the capacity of the first year, we are able to accommodate a much wider range of 'Advanced' dancers through the highest levels of 'Masters'. (See below for more information on selection criteria.) If you are interested but unsure whether you are sufficiently advanced, you should apply! It is not uncommon for such tentative applicants to get accepted, and those who aren't accepted the first time increase their chance of getting noticed the next year if they apply again (particularly if there is some growth and development shown between the two applications).
Finally, if you are an intermediate or even beginning dancer and would be interested in something geared toward those levels, please let us know by submitting an application and encouraging others to do the same. Feel free to use the comments section to tell us more. We use such applications to help determine the demand for additional weeks and levels.
The Experiment uses an application process to select participants the same way that most workshops use level tests/auditions for higher levels. The main difference is that our process has to be done six months in advance, without the benefit of having everyone in the same room.
Applying is free and includes several poll & short essay questions along with the opportunity to include sample video of your dancing. (Video is not required but highly recommended. Many applicants film themselves at a social dance or in their living room and upload it privately, or you can use non-choreographed contest or exhibition footage.) Processing applications is done by a panel of approximately a half-dozen primary judges plus consultations with at least as many outside sources, and now takes upwards of 100 man hours each year.
Selection criteria obviously include overall ability and quality of motion, but also things like: self-motivation & work ethic, active-mindedness (consistently asking good questions and actively seeking answers), creativity/ingenuity, self-awareness, social skills & ability to work in groups, overall attitude, and even peer nominations (via each application).
No! You do not need a partner, and around half of all participants attend without one. We regularly shuffle partners and groups during sessions.
The Experiment 2013 will take place April 14–21, 21–28, & April 28–May 5. Each week will open to participants in the evening on their opening Sunday and ends early the following Sunday morning. (Note the change from Saturdays in previous years to Sundays this year due to the new venue.)
While there is some hierarchy to the weeks with the highest level traditionally during the middle one, groups are increasingly built around a range of considerations in addition to level, including interests and personalities. Restrictions on your dates of availability can result in being placed in a comparable or lower week (if one exists) but not a higher one.
Applications for April 2013 are now open with a deadline of October 26, 2012. Acceptance letters will be sent in waves throughout November and into December. Everyone who applies should receive notification (acceptance or otherwise) by sometime in December or the beginning of January.
For 2013, The Experiment is moving to one of the last and least developed areas of the Outer Banks just north of Corolla, North Carolina. Known simply as "the 4x4 beaches", this area has no paved roads, shops or restaurants, and is home to the famous Corolla Wild Horses who roam freely throughout. (Also less than an hour away is the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the location of the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine.)
Most participants will arrive through Norfolk International Airport (ORF), after which it is a two hour bus trip to Corolla & the end of the paved road, and finally utilizing four-wheel drive vehicles over the beach to get out to the house. Because of the distance and complication of this trip we strongly encourage everyone who will be flying to use our scheduled bus at the beginning & end of each week. (Specific times for the bus will be announced later. Do not assume they will be the same as previous years.) Outside of this bus participants are responsible for their own ground transportation.
Those wishing to drive have two options. Driving all the way to the house absolutely requires a four-wheel drive vehicle as well as comfort adjusting your own tire pressure and driving off-road on sand. (More information on driving on the 4x4 beaches can be found here.) It is also possible to park & leave your car in Corolla during the week for a fee, and to meet with the bus to get out to the house. (This must be done in conjunction with the bus schedule.)
The new venue for this year is a sprawling, three-story oceanfront estate featuring a large central gathering room & dining area which occupies the entire middle floor, and over 50% more bedrooms & bathrooms than the previous venue (see below for more information on accommodations).
Outside are full balconies with views of the ocean (and the occasional wild horses), and a large deck with private heated pool, hot tub, and poolside cabana. Other notable amenities include a game room with pool table & bar area (including refrigerators for participants), a baby grand piano, several sets of laundry machines, and free wifi internet.
The new property offers a combination of two-person and three-person rooms with no more than three or four people per bathroom. Two-person rooms have just one king or queen bed and are primarily intended for couples. Three-person rooms have one king bed plus one added single bed, and their own dedicated bathroom. (These rooms also require two people to share the large king bed although it should have the benefit of a better mattress. Those who would strongly prefer the single bed in these rooms can request that option specifically on their application.)
All rooms include a chest of drawers and either a closet or wardrobe. Bed linens and a single bath towel & wash cloth per person are provided.
Meals will be provided by a professional caterer and are included in the price of accommodations. Both standard and vegetarian options will be available, while those with additional requirements or concerns will need to make arrangements with the caterer to see what they can accommodate. Be sure to include all dietary restrictions in the appropriate section on your application.
(A now well-established trend also involves participants bringing all kinds of regional/international delicacies to share, as well as making their own special treats and desserts.)
Yes, The Experiment is essentially a 'dry campus' (no alcohol) with the exception that participants may bring wine for dinner.
Music is coordinated by Head DJs Kyle Smith and Kate Hedin in conjunction with participants who volunteer to DJ. We are super excited to have Kyle Smith return for the full three weeks this year.
Yes, we are committed to enabling parents to participate at The Experiment, and have had a number of participants bring children the past several years. If this is something you are curious about or considering, please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Base tuition is US$480 plus the price of accommodations (including meals) which range from US$475–595. (This remains comparable to other week-long camps including total cost of lodging & meals.) If accepted, base tuition is due within two weeks of receiving acceptance letters in November/December (to secure your spot), with the remainder due in February 2013. Alternate payment plan options are available upon request.
There are no refunds after the first week of January (approximately three months before the start in April). Due to the structure of the camp, replacing someone is rarely as simple as just accepting another applicant. Often the next most qualified candidate for one particular week has already been accepted to another week, which would require a cascading series of changes & problems affecting multiple participants (more depending on the configuration of couples) in addition to finding someone new to fill the empty spot. This is compounded by each person needing to (re-)arrange a full week off from work or school, as well as (often international) flights & travel plans. (Traditionally at least half of participants are from outside the US.)
This year's volunteer positions are currently filled.
Please direct further questions to: email@example.com.