Dance festival, Chop Shop: Bodies of Work

Nicholas and Laura Schultz as Siegfried and OdetteChop Shop: Bodies of Work is an annual contemporary dance festival held at the Theatre at Meydenbauer. The event was created in 2008 by Eva Stone—choreographer, dance instructor, lecturer and contemporary dance instructor at Bellevue College—with the intention to “keep the art of dance, which [she] deeply love[s], alive and relevant in our community.”

Contemporary dance is a relatively new art form, only about 120 years old, and “is so rapidly changing,” Stone explained, “that [she] felt it was leaving the general public behind.” Stone has been teaching and choreographing for more than 30 years, but still notices that she has friends and family members “who do not know or understand what [she does] for a living.”

Stone sought to create an “all-encompassing event that included education, experience and performance,” and thus Chop Shop was born.

The festival is composed of two prolonged events. First, it’s a free community outreach program where two classes are offered. The classes are open to everyone, and again, completely free to attend. Additionally, anyone who attends the free classes are eligible for a free ticket to the second part of the festival, the performances.

The first class is a lecture and demonstration titled “Reading Dance,” which is a one-hour lecture that focuses on “break[ing] down how modern dance is choreographed [and] created,” and also offers clarification about “what all those movements could mean,” Stone explained.

After the event-goers learn “how to deconstruct dance work and engage in the choreographer’s creative process,” Stone Dance company performers from The Stone Dance Collective were brought in to exhibit “an excerpt of [their] current work and break it all down for the audience to explore.” Stone compared this part of the event to  “pulling back the curtain and revealing the wizard.”

The other class offered is Intro to Modern Dance, which is a beginning-level dance class designed for those who have never taken a dance class previously. This class, Stone said, gets the “widest range of people from all walks of life. And to be honest, of all the classes I teach, these are some of my favorites.”

“I love seeing the wide-eyed wonder as everyone is (eventually) flying around the room! It’s great fun and lets the community connect with dance in a way that is new to them.”

After the classes have commenced, the second part of Chop Shop takes the stage. Performances from various dancers are presented. Stone sends out a “‘Call to Artists’ once a year,” inviting choreographers to present at the festival.

Local, national and international performers all have their chance in the spotlight.

These preformances are chosen with the new-to-dance audience in mind.Stone looks for work that is accessible and “‘user-friendly,’ if you will, and has what I call an ‘A to B arc.’” This includes work that a majority of people can connect to without any special experience in analyzing choreography. Stone said she looks for work that is “sensitive to the audience and yet is creative, mature and thoughtful.”

From the respondents to the “Call to Artists,” 10 choreographers are chosen to display their work during Chop Shop, each given a 10-minute time limit. Stone adds with a smile, “They do not like having time limits!” The purpose of this is to “create a great sampling of work,” which she compares to a “modern dance buffet,” where “some things you will like more than others, but all will be unique and thought provoking.”

Throughout the

festival, there are master classes taught on stage by the choreographers, which are offered to dancers-in-training. Bellevue College students have time to catch the “Reading Dance” lecture and an “Intro to Modern Dance” class, held at the South Bellevue Community Center on Tues., Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

The classes are free, but prior registration is necessary to get in. Please call (425) 451-6885 to register or inquire about the event.

For more information about Chop Shop, the artists, classes and lectures, tickets or to see “a very cool promo,” please visit www.chopshopdance.org

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