For many Balboa dancers, The Balboa Experiment is still a mystery. I’m one of the lucky attendees and I would like to give you an insight in the daily life at The Experiment.
The Experiment is an intensive Balboa workshop for high-level dancers from all over the world who spend one week in a beach house, where they live, work and dance together.
Mastermind David Rehm (co-host: Nick Williams) launched the workshop in 2009 with one week and 24 students. Meanwhile the event has grown to three weeks with 28 students each week in this year.
So, what’s so special about this workshop? The concept is unique so far. It doesn’t exist a “normal” teacher-student setup like in regular classes and workshops. It’s rather an environment where students teach and inspire each other and where international teachers such as Kate Hedin, Laura Keat, Marie Nahnfeldt Mattsson, Bobby White and Jeremy Otth act as mentors and coaches.
New for this year are visiting special guests such as Head DJ Kyle Smith and others. Kyle for example will hold additional sessions/lectures during free time about balboa music and DJ’ing.
Sessions Instead of Strict Timetables
The day is usually structured as follows:
- 10h breakfast
- 11h morning session (usually feedback session) 90 minutes – 2 hours
- 13h lunch – afterwards free time for dancing, discussing, hanging out
- 16h afternoon session 2 – 3 hours
- 19h dinner – afterwards free time for dancing, gaming (Rock Band!), resting
- 21h social dancing until 2h (some nights include competitions)
- 2h hot tub
As you can see, there is no strict timetable for lessons, it’s all about sessions with flexible endings, they simply last as long as necessary.
Feedback is King
Competitions are a part of The Experiment because most of the attendees do competitions from time to time, but the main goal is not to elect the Experiment Champion, instead it’s all about practising competing in a kind of secure environment and about feedback.
That’s the most important part about The Experiment: giving and receiving feedback from fellow dancers. I’ve rarely got any feedback for my dancing, I actually had no idea where I’m standing within my peer group. The only hint has been maybe a ranking in a competition.
So, this is completely different at The Experiment.
How Giving Feedback Works
During the competion each couple dances a spotlight in front of judges (who are the coaches) and all the attendees. Everything get taped on video. The dancers who are not competing are writing down pros and cons for each couple.
During the morning sessions on the next day, we watch the videos in small groups and discuss about the performances of each couple. At the end, every single person has a video, lots of comments and written down pros and cons from more than 20 fellow dancers.
How great is that!
Like I wrote before, feedback is everything. I hope, that the session concept will also be used more in classes. I know, that’s not always possible, because of lack of time or/and because many students just wanna learn new moves.
But this is another discussion.