History

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1974119_10152642869604619_2100857211_oThe Experimental Dance Group founded in 1999 by Bryan Alejandro Scott, was created out of a need to form a performing arts dance company and teach dance history to students in the public school system. The idea grew out of an experiment Mr. Scott conducted in 1995 with children with special social/emotional in needs at PS 94 who demonstrated poor academic ability. The question was, could these children develop self discipline that would help them improve their behavior as well as developing a desire to achieve academically?

 

Despite the fact that the group got a chance to dance around the New York City area participating in various dance festivals and inter-school performances, unfortunately, due to lack of support and funding Mr. Scott was unable to continue working with the special education population. However it should be noted that in speaking with a few of the former members 7 years later, they told him that they were in fact able to implement some of the strategies learned in dance to the classroom, enabling them to have more academic success, transfer to a less restrictive setting, and a few even went on to regular education placements. That was the end of the PS94 Jazzy Dancers.

 

In 1998, Mr. Scott started working with a small group of students in the school formerly known as PS 61. These students were in the regular education program and were interested in dance, but there were no dance programs in the school at the time. Since Mr. Scott worked in the same building, although in a different school, he decided to meet with the girls once or twice a week for 30-40 minutes and teach them modern dance(the Dunham Technique) and they became known as the PS61 Jazz Dancers. The classroom teachers were very receptive and it became somewhat of a collaborative effort scheduling rehearsal time between academics and Mr. Scott’s prep periods.

By 1999 PS 61 closed and the school building housed the special education school PS94 and The Children’s Workshop School. In an effort to continue the Dunham dance tradition and have a public school children’s dance company, Mr. Scott started another group which became known as Experimental Dance Group (EDG). This time Mr. Scott, who worked in a special educational program as a Speech & Language Pathologist, decided to collaborate with the principal (Ms. Maria Velez-Clark) and the teachers in the Children’s Workshop School. It was truly en experiment in that both groups knew very little about each other, and it was not clear how a dance program could be started by a person working within one school/program for children who were part of a different school/program. However, the goals for the group remained the same: (1) to teach them Dunham Technique, (2) to teach movement using modern/Caribbean/Latin rhythms, (3) To teach performance technique, (4) to help school age children develop confidence and build their self esteem, (5) to help elementary school age children develop their critical thinking skills, and (6) to provide them with some knowledge about dance history.

 

It was decided that the 5th/6th grade class taught by Aimee D. would have an opportunity to participate and would meet once a week during the last period of the day. Participation in the group was dependent upon the student’s behavior and academic performance in the classroom. Academic and behavioral progress was discussed periodically amongst the classroom teacher, Mr. Scott and Ms. Velez-Clark.

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In 2001, the group which became known as the Experimental Dance Group, performed for audiences within the school building as well as in local schools in the East Village and West Village area. They danced to various pop, gospel, rhythm & blues, and jazz music, while teaching audiences about different styles of dance originated by such choreographers as, Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey. The group began to get a lot of school wide recognition and many parents wanted their children to have an opportunity to participate in the group as well. As a result, an after-school club was formed for junior EDG members which included 2nd through 4th grade.
Performance Roster for 2001-2002
1. Lyanne Cook
2. Imani Jones
3. Jenny McAbe
4. Stephanie Millan
5. Keira Smyth
6. Josephine Waugh
7. Rorima Wilson


By the end of the academic school year 2002, EDG had performed throughout the East Village and West Village area. The group was invited to participate in the East Village festival at The Theater For The New City and was well received. EDG was slowly becoming one of the most popular after-school clubs and it was decided by the club coordinator, Ms. Anita Mercier, that in the Fall of 2002 EDG the Children’s Workshop school would offer both a junior group (2-4th grade) and a senior group (5th-6th grade) as after-school clubs. The junior group would meet from 2:45 pm to 4:15 pm, and the senior group from 4:15 pm to 5:30 pm. As a result, EDG now has a roster of 20 students, who knows where they will go from here.
EDG Junior Members 2002-2003
1. Micala Elise-Cruz-Brown
2. Lisa Funfrock
3. Aleksondra Honusiewicz
4. Margret John
5. Zak Kombel
6. Rosa Loveszy
7. Tina Meyers
8. Isabel Paul
9. Rachel Modell-Kowalski
10. Lhazom Ngawong
11. Lucia Urbanic
12. Josephine Waugh
Membership for the 2002-2003 season increased to 20 members, and EDG split into a junior company (2nd-3rd grade) and a senior company (4th-6th grade). Rehearsals remained on Thursdays from 2:45 pm to 4:15 pm for the junior company, and 4:30 pm- 5:30 pm for the senior company. The focus this year was on creating a repertoire that would give the group a chance to perform different selections for different types of audiences. We were able to develop 5 selections that were used for performances throughout the year. The students were still required to do some research on Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey, in order to be knowledgeable about the technique and history. This was the largest group to date and we had a lot of fun working on choreography and developing strength, flexibility and endurance. The group again had the opportunity to performed at neighborhood schools (P.S. 15, P.S. 34), as well as participating in the annual East Village Festival at The Theater For The New City during Memorial Day weekend.
EDG Senior Members 2002-2003
1. Ashley Bermudez
2. Lyanne Cook
3. Paola Estevez
4. Claire Kuhn
5. Jennifer McCabe
6. Stephanie Pena (married name Santos)
7. Keira Smyth
8. Rorima Wilson


During 2003-2004 membership reached 13, with 5 returning members. The group met on Thursdays from 3:00 – 4:30 pm and continued to develop technique while increasing their repertoire and experimenting with different types of music. Performances continued throughout the year, and culminated with a grand performance culminating with the presentation of awards to all members of the company.
EDG 2003-2004
1. Micala Elise Cruz-Brown
2. Katie Parker
3. Rachel Modell-Kowalski
4. Rowan Boyce
5. Tina Meyers
6. Najah Scott
7. Lhazom Ngawong
8. Lhamtso Ngawang
9. Rosa Loveszy
10. Norzom
11. Joyce Perez
12. Cierra Garvin


The 2004-2005 season had 8 members with 7 returning members. The company was developing strength and cohesiveness because many of the students had worked together during the previous year and were familiar with the routines and technique. Rehearsals were held on Thursdays from 3:00- 4:45 pm. The group had many performances in the immediate East Village area and danced for various events within the school (i.e., science fair, graduation, fund raisers). In addition, we were invited back toe The Theater For The New City for their annual Festival of the Arts program held during Memorial Day weekend.
EDG 2004-2005
1. Katie Parker
2. Rachell Modell-Kowalski
3. Tina Meyers
4. Najah Scott
5. Lhazom Ngawong
6. Lhamtso Ngawangt
7. Joyce Perez
8. Cierra Garvin


The 2005-2006 season was a highpoint for EDG because with 8 members, most of them had been with the group for 3 years. This allowed me to experiment with choreography and provided the students with an opportunity to work on being an ensemble, in addition to highlighting each student’s strengths. The coordinators were Claudia and Jan, both of whom worked diligently to assure that everything ran smoothly. The group had the opportunity to perform at neighborhood schools, such as, P.S. 15 and P.S.34, as well as the annual Festival of the Arts at The Theater for The New City. We also had an opportunity to have guest artist, Mary Vivian, master teacher of the Dunham technique and former member of the Eugene James dance. Co. ,work with the students during rehearsal. This was one of the EDG’s most successful seasons to date.
EDG 2005-2006
1. Joyce Perez
2. Katie Parker
3. Tina Meyers
4. Najah Scott
5. Ciera Garvin
6. Tiona
7. Sierra Mae Williams
8. Teresa Rodriguez


During the 2006-2007 dance season we had a total of 7 students, five of whom were new members. This required teaching the technique to students who had no prior training or exposure to the Dunham technique, thus the focus this year would be technique, not performance. Ms. Claudia served as club coordinator and worked very hard to help us attract new members. Many new clubs were being offered at C.W.S. and the children’s taste in activities were changing as well.
EDG 2006-2007
1. Deja Chislom
2. Rebecca Kellum
3. Sierra Mae Williams
4. Katerina Meyers
5. Teresa Rodriguez
6. Daphne Savoy
7. Nikki Savoy


The 2007-2008 dance season had 5 participants, two seniors (members from the previous year), and three students from the 3rd and 4th grade. The focus continued on teaching Dunham movements and increasing the level of difficulty. Enrollment has remained about the same in comparison to last year. This may be in part to all of the new clubs CWS has to offer and the children’s interest to experiment with different types of activities. Claudia served as our club coordinator and setting the meeting time for 3:10-4:45 pm every Thursday. The big change this year was that the clubs did not take a break after the Christmas Holiday, but continued from October through June.
EDG 2007-2008
1. Erika Groissman
2. Rebecca Kellum
3. Sierra Mae Williams
4. Kudyba Sam
5. Katerina Meyers

EDG 2008-2009
1. Katerina Meyers
2. Thairry Griffith
3. Teresa Pvia
4. Isabel Modell-Kowalsky
5. Mikayla Rivera
6. Ruby Diarmit



The 2009-2010 dance season had 12 members including one male, which we had not seen since the original group in 1995. The group was comprised of mostly first and second graders with 3 third graders. Many of the students had never taken dance before so basic Dunham technique was taught as well as developing a sense of rhythm and timing. Overall the new students did very well. Darryl became the club coordinator. The dance class was extended to 5:15pm.
EDG 2009-2010 (Spring)
1. Thairry Griffith (09)
2. Jose Pacheco (09)
3. Isabel Modell-Kowalsky
4. Roxanne Benson
5. Isabella Pena
6. Hailey Subeevi
7. Matilda Molina
8. Kyla Simancas
9. Teresa Pavia
10. Dori Chuckno
11. Katya Groscost
12, Mikayla Rivera (09)


The 2010-2011 dance season had 13 members with 7 members returning and 2 students in first grade, three students in second grade and two students in third grade. The goal this year was to teach the students about the inner feelings a dancer has to have when dancing and the importance of listening to the music and learning how to express this to the audience; as well as more Dunham technique. The enrollment has increased by two students from last season and Darryl continued as the new club coordinator. The class time was extended to 5:30 pm to provide more time to develop technique and to rehearse.
EDG 2010-1011(Spring)
1. Kyla Simancas
2. Isabell Modell-Kowalski
3. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
4. Matilda Molina
5. Isabella Pena
6. Teresa Pavia
7. Juliana Pratt
8. Francesca Vigilante (10)
9. Beatrix Aster Johnson (10)
10 Olive Raymond (10)
11. Katya Naphtali (dropped out)
12. Victoria Brooks
13. Katya Groscost

EDG 2010-1011 (Fall)
1. Kyla Simancas
2. Isabell Modell-Kowalski
3. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
4. Matilda Molina
5. Isabella Pena
6. Teresa Pavia
7. Victoria Brooks
8. Francesca Vigilante (10)
9. Beatrix Aster Johnson (10)
10. Chloe Imhof (10)
11. Olive Raymond (10)
12. Sarah Boulamaali (10)



The 2011-2012 dance season had 14 members with 12 members returning and two new students (one in first grade and the other in 3rd grade). The goal this year was to focus on performance ability and connecting with the audience; as well as learning some advanced beginner Dunham techniques. Joyce became the clubs coordinator and class time remained 3:00 pm, to 5:30 pm.
EDG 2011-2012 (Fall)
1. Kyla Simancas (09)
2. Isabell Modell-Kowalski (08)
3. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
4. Matilda Molina (09)
5. Isabella Pena (09)
6. Teresa Pavia (08)
7. Juliana Pratt (10)
8. Francesca Vigilante (10)
9. Olive Raymond (10)
10. Victoria Brooks (10)
11. Katya Groscost (09)
12. Stella Hollier
13. Alegra Lleo (12)
14. Miette Maolidi (12)


In 2012-2013 The Experimental Dance Group went back to their roots! Based upon the growth and development of the company over the past 4 years it was time for the company to separate from the “Clubs” umbrella so that the original concept of what EDG was all about (the formation of a school dance company), was not lost or compromised. Of course with change comes growing pains but we were up to the challenge and with 13 members (11 returning) full force ranging from 2nd grade though 5th grade (3 of which were seniors) we were ready.
EDG 2012-2013 (Fall)
1. Kyla Simancas (09)
2. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
3. Matilda Molina (09)
4. Isabella Pena (09)
5. Francesca Vigilante (10)
6. Olive Raymond (10)
7. Victoria Brooks (10)
8. Katya Groscost(09)
9. Stella Hollier (11)
10. Miette Maolidi (11)
11. Haley Kreigstein (12)
12. Simone Convery (12)
13. Erin Steinhauser (12)

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In 2013-2014 Season #15 The Experimental Dance Group made ground breaking history by having already appeared in the Wall Street Journal and bringing the house down at the Dance Educators Showcase during Spring 2013, were ready to take another bold step where no other school organization had gone before. The returning 13 members of The Experimental Dance Group would invite students from both schools (The Children’s Dance Group, and The East Village Community School) to audition for the company. This resulted in one new member from second grade, Maria R. (C.W.S.) and two new students from E.V.C.S. 4th grader Jaiden Rodriguez (Fall 2013 and second grader Ida Murata-Dästner (Spring 2014). We also set precedent by allowing an alumni student Victoria Brooks to return and continue working with the company, something like this had never been done before. And of course our history learning portion of the company has expanded to include the study of Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham, Arthur Mitchell, Carmen De Lavallade, Martha Graham, as well as recent choreographers/dancers such as: Twylar Tharp, Bob Fossee, Debbie Allen, The Nicholas Brothers, Ron K. Brown.
EDG 2013-2014 (Spring)
1. Meelan Dessejour (13)
2. Kyla Simancas (09)
3. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
4. Matilda Molina (09)
5. Isabella Pena (09)
6. Francesca Vigilante (10)
7. Olive Raymond (10)
8. Katya Groscott (09)
9. Stella Hollier (11)
10. Miette Maolidi (11)
11. Maria Riker (13)
12. Jaedin Rodriguez (13)
13. Erin Steinhauser (12)
14. Victoria Brooks (10)
15. Ida Murata-Dästner (14)


The 2014-2015 season #16 has brought new changes!! The Experimental Dance Group has now obtained LLC status along with developing a Facebook page and webpage. We have 5 alumni (Victoria Brooks, Matilda Molina, Katya Groscost, Isabella Pena, Kyla Semancas)) who have returned to continue with the company, and two new students from the EVCS (Naveah Gamble, Mika Roque) and 2 new students from the Children’s Workshop School (Imogen Drake, Georgia Rainey). A new piece has been added to the repertoire, “Tryin’Times” by Miss Roberta Flack which is a ballad and demonstrates more of a modern feel (Lester Horton, Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham).
EDG 2014-2015 (Spring)
1. Naveah Gamble (14)
2. Georgia Rainey (14)
3. Chloe Beckert-Brown (10)
4. Matilda Molina (09)
5. Isabella Pena (09)
6. Francesca Vigilante (10)
7. Imogen Drake (14)
8. Katya Groscost (09)
9. Stella Hollier (11)
10. Mika Roque (14)
11. Maria Riker (13)
12. Erin Steinhauser (12)
13. Victoria Brooks (10)
14. Ida Murata-Dästner (14)

Miss Asha Jordan -Asst. Director/Rehearsal Director with Bryan Alejandro Scott- Director/Founder
Founder/Director Bryan Alejandro Scott with new rehearsal director and assistant choreographer Asha Jordan attend a winter gala event.

 

The Experimental Dance Group also had a documentary entitled “Dunham Dance Steps to Success” written, produced, and edited by Havelock Nelson which premiered on March 18th, 2015 on Manhattan Cable Television Network (MNN) go into depth about what the company is about and how it evolved. “Dunham Dance Steps to Success” provides the viewers with the inside story as to how the group developed from just an “experiment” during free time during the school day, to an established elementray school based dance company.  The documentary shares interviews by founder/director Byan Alejandro Scott, company members, administration/principal, friends, parents and supporters.  It is gripping, real, motivating and proves to be a project of love.

This was our first year that we were able to invite a guest artist to teach a class. On April 23rd, 2015 we were fortunate to have the multitalented Abdur-Rahim Jackson teach a class. Some of Mr. Jackson’s credits include: former Alvin Ailey principal dancer, co-choreographer of “Halo for Beyonce, as well as choreographing the LED sections of Beyonce’s “Crazy” In Love” Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show. He was able to share his talent, experience and expertise, helping the girls develop their technique, in addition to teaching various ways to emote their feelings from the stage to the audience, thereby making their performance more powerful. It was a moving moment for all of us!

We again were chosen to participate in the New York City Dance Educator’s Showcase held at Long Island City High School on May 9, 2015 and performed to a new ballet “Tryin’ Times” by the incomparable Miss Roberta Flack. The response was phenomenal and diffrent from anything we had ever presented before.

On May 23rd, 2015 The Experimental Dance Group performed at the Off Broadway Theater “Theater For The New City” Our protion of the show included our new ballet “Tryin’ Times” by Miss Roberta Flack, along with the crowd favorites “Rock Into Your Soul by Lisa Lisa, and “Turn The Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson. EDG alumni were in the audience along with EDG supporters and after the show we all celebrated at I Coppi di Matilda; our longtime fundraiser supporters.

2015-2016 is The Experimental Dance Group’s 17th year!!! We are proud to say that we have 6 new members, along with 7 returning members, three of which are alumni. Among the new members we have 5 new 3rd graders and 2 new fourth graders, none of which have studied the Dunham technique before. We are also delighted that Ida Murata from The East Village Community School also returned for her second season with the company.

This year the company will focus on strengthening their knowledge of the Dunham Technique and hopefully revise our successful ballet to “Rock Into Your Soul” by Lisa Lisa. In addition, Adriane Anderson will be helping the company farther develop the webiste, Facebook page as well as other social media outlets. Sonia Rosario will continue as my assistant, and Asha Jordan will consult when available as she completes her senior year at New York University.

Getting ready to do our thing!!

Getting ready to do our thing!!

Company 2015-1016 with Guest Artist/Master Teacher Olivia Bowman Jackson

Company 2015-1016 with Guest Artist/Master Teacher Olivia Bowman Jackson


EDG 2015-2016
1. Ida Murata (13)
2. Maria Riker (13)
3. Georgia Rainey (14)
4. Aletheia Bala (15)
5. Aviel Herrmann (15)
6. Cleo Snyderman (15)
7. Nixie Berlinghof (15)
8. Ella Frank (15)
9. Mia McDonagh (15)
10. Redding Scheaffer (15)
11. Matilda Molina (09)- currently alumni
12. Victoria Brooks (10) – currently alumni
13. Kyla Simancas (09) – alumni

During the summer of 2016 Mr. Scott was invited to teach two Dunham workshops in Birchington, England at Rhythm Express. He taught a junior group and a senior group and the kids got a real kick out of it. They had never had a Dunham based class before, but they were very attentive and enjoyed every second. They can’t wait for him to return again!!

The 2016-2017 marks the Experimental Dance Group’s 18th year!!! We had many students show up for the auditions and thankfully all students were accepted. One major difference this year is that we finally have more participation from students attending the East Village Community School. In addition, we have a returning alumni member, Victoria Brooks who has made history by dancing with the company for 8 years. She continues to dance with the company and is now my resident assistant in training. The Experimental Dance Group currently has 11 members and is preparing for upcoming shows in the Spring of 2017. These are the following company members with the year they started with the company:

1. Ida Murata (’13)
2. Adele Charvon (’16)
3. Georgia Rainey (’14)
4. Maya Eaton (’16)
5. Elizabeth Mercado (’16)
6. Cleo Snyderman (’15)
7. Nixie Berlinghof (’15)
8. Ella Frank (’15)
9. Mia McDonagh (’15)
10. Redding Scheaffer (’15)
11. Victoria Brooks (’10) – currently alumni
12. Lovinia Grandoit (’17)

The Experimental Dance Group had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 11th Annual Dance Parade on May 20th, 2017. The parade route started at 21st street all the way to Ave. A & Thompkins Square Park. We did our Dunham Technique moves all the way to the captivating music of Fela, La Lupe, Cesaria Evora, Celia Cruz and Nina Simone. It was a fun day for the company members, friends and family!!

EDG 2017

 

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On May 27, 2017 The Experimental Dance Group once again performed at the Off Broadway Theater “Theater For The New City.” This was a special occasion for the company because they paid tribute to Primy Rivera who had coordinated the shows there for the past several years and but suddenly passed away this year. As a tribute to him The Experimental Dance Group performed Dunham Technique demonstrations to the music of Fela Kuti, Celia Cruz, Cesaria Evora, La Lupe and Nina Simone. It was a great tribute to Primy Rivera and everyone was moved; he will never be forgotten. We closed the show with Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” which was a resounding success. The Experimental Dance Group once again made history!

2 comments

  1. Rosa Loveszy - March 3, 2017 5:19 am

    Hi Mr. Scott! So happy to see all you have accomplished with “EDG” over the past 15 years since I was one of your students. I graduated from university spring 2016 with a degree in Scientific Illustration and I am now applying to graduate school. The years I danced with you are memorable. I’d love to touch base and visit you sometime. Please look up my webiste -my contact information is there!

    All the best – your dance student – Rosa Loveszy

    Reply
    • admin - March 3, 2017 5:11 pm

      Dear Rosa,
      It was such a pleasure hearing from you!!! I remember what a great student you were. You were always focused and disciplined and had great support6ive parents. I am so glad that you were able to find me!! We are actually having our annual fundraiser this Monday 3/6 , but I am not sure if you are in New York. I will send you an email. Thank you for being such an incredible student and congratulations on your recent graduation. I always believed in you! Mr. Scott

      Reply

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