First Eva Stone educated students on her often-misunderstood passion, contemporary dance. Then she educated her students’ parents, and the art form found more fans. Now, through her CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work festival, she educates audiences, “chopping up” performances into understandable chunks, taking the time to bring people in.
“I hear from people all the time, ‘I’m afraid of getting it wrong,’” Stone says, “A lot of what I do as an educator is give people permission to bring their personal background to the experience of watching dance.” She encourages the viewer to understand that there are no wrong answers.
Stone started Chop Shop in 2008 with a simple mission: make dance accessible. At the time, Seattle’s only options were the more traditional Pacific Northwest Ballet and the avant-garde On the Boards. There was nothing in-between, so Stone launched the festival — with performances and classes meant to bridge the gap between audience and artist and give newcomers a chance to step through the door.
“Once you’ve come to Chop Shop and learned more about it, you can stay engaged in the dance community! You can go to the ballet and go to On the Boards,” and you’ll feel empowered to enjoy those performances too, Stone says.
READ MORE: Chop Shop stirs senses through dance
With 240 applications (for a festival used to receiving around 100) this year Chop Shop had a wealth of talent to choose from. Buy a ticket for either the Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. or the Sunday Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. performance and you’ll see a wide range of contemporary dance including crowd pleasers and world premieres. Seattle choreographer Daniel Costa connected with festival alumni Adam Barruch for a piece Stone says is “visually beautiful and musically connected.” Another performer Stone is looking forward to is Omar Román De Jesús. “He has a liquid and fluent movement language that creates amazing physical and emotional relationships.”
In addition to the performances are master classes for dancers with a minimum of three years of training, and the free Experience Dance Program open to all ages and abilities. Reading Dance is a lecture and demonstration that breaks down how one of this year’s festival pieces was created, teaching audiences everything from how to read the program and analyze the performance space, to learning how dancers collaborate in the creative process and use music. Introduction to Modern Dance lets grandparents, grandchildren and everyone in-between get on the dance floor and learn to express emotion and movement through their bodies.
“This festival does not present work that fits a specific mold,” Stone says, “We’re interested in the artistic purpose of the work. If a choreographer has something special to say, we’re listening.”
RSVP for the FREE Experience Dance Program on Feb. 4 or Feb. 7. To register for a Master Class with one of the festival’s performers Feb.13-16 call 206-799-6004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Buy tickets to the festival performances at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. at brownpapertickets.com.