As classically trained ballet dancers, Joella Lai ’23 and Ming Shen ’23 came to Carleton looking for different dance opportunities that would allow them to expand their repertoires in a welcoming, safe and creative environment. By directing and participating in Carleton’s Experimental Dance Board (EDB), they’ve been able to explore combinations of different styles of dance, including hip hop and contemporary, while also sharing their love for ballet.
EDB is a student-run dance organization on campus. Every year, the club holds two showcases, the first in collaboration with Jazz and Contemporary Dance Company (JCO), another dance organization with which EDB has close ties.
Initially, Shen, like many other students, was intimidated by the term “experimental.” Over time, however, she learned that EDB’s brand of ‘experimental’ allows for safe exploration of dance.
“One of my favorite pieces I’ve ever performed was a hip-hop duet with Joella, and neither of us had really done any hip-hop prior to college,” said Shen.
Ayaka Moriyama ’22, a student who has been in EDB for several years now, shared a similar sentiment.
“I love the community that welcomes a range of dance styles and experimentation, such as eating oranges and blowing balloons during a piece, as well as people from different backgrounds, from someone with no dance experience to a hip-hop star,” Moriyama said. “Since I saw many experimental dance pieces in EDB shows, I was able to try choreographing seven people for the first time without worrying about others’ judgment. EDB is one of a few places where I can be honest about my own creativity.”
Shen has always loved the structure of EDB, which accepts dancers and choreographers of all levels.
Students who come to open calls, an informal audition process meant for students to meet one another and get a taste for dance, are all guaranteed a place within the showcases. Likewise, the level of time commitment is entirely dependent on each student’s preferences, so everyone is able to choose the number of pieces they’d like to take part in.
One way EDB is different from other dance organizations on campus is that it offers an opportunity for students to meet other students who may not have had the same experiences and access to dance. As no experience is required to join, EDB has consisted of members with differing backgrounds in dance.
Annika Stewart ’25, a new member of EDB this year, said, “EDB has been a super fun way to get involved in experimental dance at Carleton and meet some amazing people!”
Lai and Shen hope that EDB grows into a bigger community where students can share their passion for dancing. EDB serves as a space to connect with other dancers while pushing for individual growth. It is always exciting for Lai and Shen to watch their talented peers create original choreography featuring other student dancers.
If you are interested in watching EDB, come to their showcases on 7th Friday (5/13) at 8 PM and Saturday (5/14) at 7 PM. This show is definitely worth a watch!