The Fear Experiment

September 27, 2012

By Raleigh-Elizabeth.

Do you have anything on your life to-do list you simply don’t know how to accomplish? And even if you did know…you would almost never in a million years dare?

Saya Hillman’s list included learning a dance and performing it in front of a real audience in a theater. Deciding she should enlist her friends in the project, she emailed 50 people and suggested her idea. “Here’s the gist,” she wrote. “A group of fun people, many of whom don’t know each other, with no dance skills, will work with a choreographer over a few months to learn dance routines to popular songs, culminating in a performance for friends at a theater.” That Spring, 17 non-dancers spent three months rehearsing and performed in front of a group of 350 at a Chicago theater.

Thus was born the Fear Experiment. Now open to the public, the Fear Experiment is in its fourth season and activities include stepping, dance, improv, and a cappella. People show up, sweat, encourage each other, and continually shock themselves out of their comfort zones. It sounds terrifying and life-changing all at once.

If you could gather a group of friends to check something so outrageously out-there off your bucket list, what would it be? I’m up for anything as long as the costumes are pretty!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Polly September 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

That’s pretty cool! What a great way to challenge people.
My biggest fear would be something to do with heights! Like climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge. My boyfriend really wanted to do it with me when I visited Australia but I just couldn’t face it! xx


2 julia g blair September 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I would Love to be computer savvy. Really SAVVY! My fear is that fellow class members just wouldn’t believe that anyone could be as slow and stupid as I am.

Think I need a private and very patient teacher!!


3 Tasha September 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

You are SOOOOO not alone:)


4 angie October 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I am such a computer geek (secretly!… friends have no idea how nerdy I am….lol) I would so love to help anyone that needed it! I find it very relaxing :)


5 Sarah Barksdale Design September 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I have always wanted to write a children’s book! I actually have written out a couple of drafts, but I’m not really sure of how the process goes… I should probably just go for it and get some of my english-major friends involved. ha


6 April Louise September 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Wow what a fantastic idea! That’s so inspiring :)


7 Maria September 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I love to sing and I’m pretty good at it, but I’ve never been able to perform as I get crippling stage fright. I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar or piano and do the whole singer/songwriter gig. *sigh*


8 Tasha September 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I’d LOVELOVELOVE to sing with Andrea Bocelli, but am I on HIS list!?
I also have wanted for years to join my church choir, but something stops me…? Sad, as it is one of my greatest loves.


9 Saya September 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for the mention on your wonderful blog!

Fear Experiment has certainly turned into one of the most pleasant surprises of my life. Who knew that a girl’s silly desire to be a rockstar for one night, even though she had zero-rockstar qualities, would turn into an experience that sells out every year (700+ tickets!), at one of Chicago’s most revered theaters, has a wait-list to get in each round, and has 100+ alum, most of whom remain good friends post-show.

Truly a heartwarming experience to see the participants grow in ways they never imagined and to form deep and lasting relationships with people they probably would’ve never intersected with had it not been for FE.


10 Shannon { A Mom's Year } September 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Fear Experiment sounds amazing! I grew up singing in choirs and musicals but didn’t experience the terror of stage fright until I signed up for an adult tap class and had to dance in front of pretty much my entire small town. But it was addictive and we’re in our fourth year now….

I think sky-diving and flying a plane would be pretty amazing!


11 mom in mendon September 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Love this idea. FEAR is SO crippling.


12 Sharon @ Discovering blog September 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

What a FANTASTIC idea!

I think my greatest fear that I would love to tackle would be my fear of heights. I don’t need to skydive, but jumping off of the high dive would be nice.


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