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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Plucky dance group EDB finds their groove

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Last weekend, a term and a half’s worth of student-choreographed dance moved across the big dance studio to a packed audience. The show by the Experimental Dance Board included eight pieces with dancers from all years and this performance marks only the second year of the group’s existence.

EDB founders Ellis Johnston ’16, Kate Cieslowski ’15, Rachel Clark ’15, and Torre Edahl ’14 were all involved in the dance community at Carleton, but each saw that there was something lacking in it. WHOA and Ebony II existed, but the primary avenues for modern dance were in classes and through the intensive Semaphore Repertory Dance Company.

“Sometimes, people would audition for Semaphore and not get in, and then stop dancing. That was really upsetting, but there wasn’t really anywhere for people who were not comfortable or interested in Ebony to go besides dance classes,” said sophomore Alison Brown, a current director along with Johnston and Cieslowski.

As its formation began, this new group filled the niche previously left from Semaphore, Ebony, and dance classes. Ball believes that each of those “are great for what they are, but EDB is something that produces serious dance work and student choreography while also being student-run and not exclusive. I hate to categorize dance because I think that all dance is valid.” This space for dance is different and called for a place on campus.

“Our whole goal is to be inclusive while also creating serious work in a committed group,” Ball said, “so we have auditions just for choreographers to see the dancers and then we put them in a piece.” As directors, Ball, Johnston, and Cieslowski are responsible for sending out calls for and approving choreography proposals, running auditions, casting, and all of the technical work behind putting on a show.

Last year, auditions took place at the beginning of fall term, a show was performed sixth week of winter term, and an informal solo and duet showcase took place in the spring. This year, the same fall and winter term formats were used, and auditions were held this week in preparation for a first-ever full spring show.

“Especially because last year was the first year for EDB, a lot of the stuff that we’re doing now is trying to set precedent for years to come.”

Procedures like electing directors is established for groups like Ebony II, but EDB is creating those as it goes. If the format for upcoming spring show works well, it will likely be reproduced, too. “Last year was an incredible success, but we’re all still learning and the organization will continue to grow,” Ball said.

The uniqueness of EDB has had an effect on the students who participate, even in the short time that it has existed. Sophomore Hunter Brown dances with Semaphore, Ebony, and EDB. “I would never choreograph for Semaphore because I would be too overwhelmed, so if EDB didn’t exist, I would never have choreographed anything except for an Ebony dance, where you’re kind of doing music video dances. I love that, but it’s kind of just that one thing. It’s my choreography, but not really how I want to be dancing; EDB has allowed me to explore what my dancing is like,” he said.

EDB has allowed for the unique experience of choreographing in the diverse manners that students want with a range of bodies and movements, creating the experience of being seriously choreographed by contemporaries rather than adults. For many dancers involved, this has been a special experience.

This is only the second year of the Experimental Dance Board’s existence, but it is here to stay. Ball hopes to see it continue to grow and thrive in different ways, explaining: “a lot of what I think EDB is founded on is people who love dancing wanting to dance as much as possible, so in the future I would like to see more varied styles included. A lot of what we do is varying de- grees of experimental and usually modern stuff, and I would love to see a broader variety of movement styles.” Ball also hopes to see possibilities like master classes or a dance equivalent of ETB’S 24-hour show for those who cannot manage the current multiple-term commitment of EDB.

Ball said, “I’m incredibly proud to be involved with EDB and the work that we are doing within the dance community at Carleton.” Dance at Carleton constantly moves and shifts, and EDB is just one of the newest of its developments.

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