Evanston Dance Ensemble celebrates its 25th season

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 were able to be the dancer in the picture after landing the lead role in a revival of the same play.

Evanston Dance Ensemble, the centre’s associate company, is a select group of highly skilled teenage dancers who strive to provide dancers with pre-professional experiences in the world of dance and beyond. EDE celebrated its 25th anniversary in March with “Silver Linings: Celebrating 25 Years of Dance,” a performance featuring pieces from the company’s repertoire to celebrate its history.

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

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

The company now has a board of directors, several shows per season and a secondary ensemble for young dancers, ede2. This group creates an original show every year and travels around Evanston to introduce 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 about some of these new opportunities for community engagement to attract more dancers of color and dancers with different abilities,” Roseborough said. “We’re really opening up and growing, and I’m excited to see what the next 25 years have in store for us.”

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

“Dancing can be very entertaining,” Ernst said. “It can be almost competitive. These are not the things we focus on. We focus on the trained dancer, but also on productions, plays and performances that have a very expressive, unusual, perhaps unexpected way of coming through.

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

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

“I’m proud to have gone through this process, especially when working with dancers my own age,” Goodman said. “I discovered that what I love about choreography and dance is the narrative aspect.”

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

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Twitter: @AlexaCrowder

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