Evanston Dance Ensemble celebrates 25th season with retrospection


Photo courtesy of RJ Coleman

Evanston Dance Ensemble member Nathaniel Orlov-Mayer poses for the 25th anniversary of EDE. The season’s final show included pieces from the company’s repertoire.

Alexa Crowder, Copy Editor

Throughout Rose Goodman’s childhood practicing at Dance Center Evanston, she said she always admired a particular photo of a dancer on stage. Last month, they got to be the dancer in the photo after landing the lead role in a revival of the same piece.

Evanston Dance Ensemble, the center’s associated company, is a selective group of highly trained teen dancers that strives to provide the dancers with pre-professional experiences in the dance world and beyond. EDE marked its 25th anniversary season in March with “Silver Linings: Celebrating 25 Years of Dance,” a show composed of pieces from the company’s repertoire to celebrate its history.

Béa Rashid (Communication ’78) founded the company in 1997, three years after opening the dance center. She said she wanted to offer further opportunities for her dancers.

“I had a whole group of other choreographers that I enjoyed collaborating with that I was interested in bringing together to work on projects with the young dancers,” Rashid said. “I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for everybody to take the next step towards professionalism.”

The company now boasts a board of directors, multiple shows per season and a secondary ensemble for younger dancers, ede2. This group creates an original show every year and tours around Evanston to bring dance to a wider population.

Ede2 Artistic Director Kara Roseborough said she hopes to deepen these relationships with the local community to help EDE reflect Evanston.

“I’m excited for some of these newer community engagement opportunities to bring in more dancers of color and dancers that are differently abled,” Roseborough said. “We are really opening and expanding, and I’m excited to see what the next 25 years hold.”

Rashid served as artistic director of EDE until she stepped down in 2020, and Christina Ernst, who shared the role with Rashid since 2007, took over. Ernst said she values the company’s productions’ artistic quality.

“Dance can be very entertaining,” Ernst said. “It can be almost competitive. Those are not the things we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on the trained dancer, but also (on) productions and pieces and shows that have a very expressive, unusual, maybe unexpected way to come across.”

“Unbreakable,” a piece choreographed by Ernst 35 years ago, opened the anniversary show. Ernst started at EDE as a choreographer and continues doing similar work for the company. Some dancers also choreograph through EDE’s Young Choreographers Project.

Goodman was chosen to participate in the program twice during her time with EDE. They said they were grateful to have the opportunity.

“I’m proud of going through that process, especially while working with dancers my age,” Goodman said. “I found that what I like about choreographing and dancing is the storytelling aspect.”

While EDE’s anniversary season concluded last month, ede2’s final performance of the year, “The Story of Our Block” will run this weekend at Studio5.

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Twitter: @AlexaCrowder

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