New Zealand School of Dance, photo by Stephen A’Court

Ten Years Later, Chop Shop Is Still a Success

The seasoned mixed-rep dance festival is celebrating its anniversary with a program of audience favorites.

Ten years ago Eva Stone was running a little modern-dance company when a date opened at the Meydenbauer Theater over in Bellevue. She didn’t have enough repertory to do a whole program on her own, so she looked for artists to share the evening. The show took a couple of months to put together, all on the proverbial shoestring, and in the end it broke even—which in the world of small dance companies is a smashing success. So she did it again. And again.

Over the past 10 years, the list of artists who have appeared in Chop Shop is a roll call of local talent and some very interesting out-of-towners. She’s presented perennial favorites, newly minted artists, and choreographers on the leading edge of the art form in programs that, if sometimes overfull of dance talent, are always a generous sampler of what the art can accomplish.

Stone’s own work sits at the heart of modern dance, but for Chop Shop she keeps company with all kinds of styles, from jazz and contemporary to ballet. What she looks for is a sense of clarity and structure and a strong point of view. Though at the start she looked only at her local colleagues, in recent years she’s received applications from all over the world, with many more great choices than she has space and budget for.

And those logistics (space and budget) are almost as tight as they were at the beginning. Even with arts-commission grants and a few individual donors, it’s still a shoestring budget. But over the past 10 years, Chop Shop has created one of the few reverse commutes for the dance community—Seattle audiences regularly cross the bridge to Bellevue for the show.

For this anniversary program, Stone wanted to bring back some audience favorites, giving us a chance to see how their work has developed: for instance, Joshua Beamish, Adam Barruch, Bryn Cohen, Mark Haim, Alex Ketley, and Donald Sales. Donald Byrd of Spectrum Dance Theater has made a pièce d’occasion for Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Miles Pertl, and Christina Chan from the New Zealand School of Dance is coming to the Northwest for the first time. Stone herself is reviving her own feminist variation of Pas de Quatre, an icon of Romantic-era ballet.

While so many choreographers strain to create program-length single works, Stone is committed to these incredibly mixed repertory bills, giving her audiences a view of as many works as possible. On a bill that usually runs around Valentine’s Day, Eva Stone would like you to fall in love with dance. Chop Shop, Meydenbauer Center, 11100 N.E. Sixth St., Bellevue, chopshopdance.org. $15–$28. 7:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 18, 3 p.m. Sun., Feb. 19.

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