What is The Experiment?

The Experiment is a uniquely intimate and intensive dance workshop program. Now in its ninth year, it has grown to seven distinct weeks of just thirty participants each, with each week dedicated to a particular combination of dance and level. Currently four of those weeks are dedicated to Balboa at a range of levels from intermediate through masters.

Key features include:

  • Up to thirty participants each week live, dance, and play in a luxurious oceanfront estate.
  • Sessions utilize a series of custom-developed small-group exercises which let each participant choose what to work on based on their personal interests and goals.
  • A faculty of 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 non-dance activities, and social dancing every night.
  • Truly international, The Experiment regularly attracts participants from at least fifteen countries across four continents, with around half of Balboa alumni coming from outside the US.

In the end, the question “What is The Experiment?” has many answers. It is a unique opportunity to 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 in the US and Europe. It may or may not be home to some fierce nighttime laser tag battles and an inflatable pink unicorn. Ultimately, it is the world’s most personal and personally challenging Balboa workshop.



Each week features four or five Faculty members together with two to four Guest Mentors and one Head DJ.

Nick Williams
David Rehm
Kate Hedin
Robert White
Shani Brown

Senior Head DJ Kyle Smith
Head DJ Marc D’Olimpio


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 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 with a few main differences. First, the selection process has to be done months in advance (obviously) 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 specific 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 international 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.