One of the premiere dance festivals in the Pacific Northwest is returning to Bellevue next week for its eighth year after nearly having to cancel its performances last fall.
Due to an unexpected change in grant award policy, Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, a contemporary dance festival featuring leading national and international award-winning choreographers, was facing an $8,000 loss in funding.
Eva Stone, producer and curator of Chop Shop, turned to the arts community and lovers of dance to help raise the money through an online crowd funding campaign via Kickstarter.
It was some of the longest 21 days of her life, she said, but once the goal was reached it was back to business getting people to love dance as much as she does.
Performances will be held at The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 14) and at 3 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 15).
“People love dance, they just don’t know it yet,” Stone said. “Our mission is to bring quality, contemporary dance to Eastside audiences through education, interaction, dialogue and experience.”
But to get an audience into a contemporary dance performance has its challenges, especially the stigma that modern dance is too “edgy” or “weird” for many people to enjoy.
Stone said that’s why she created Chop Shop in the first place.
“We want to support local and regional dance artists and promote the accessibility and the presentation of contemporary dance for both new and experienced dance audiences,” she said. “If we don’t start including the audience, who is going to pay for a ticket?”
Last month, Stone and others helped dozens of people understand why dancers move certain ways and what their positions may mean during the “Experience Dance Program,” a free lecture demonstration and introductory level modern dance classes through a collaboration with the Bellevue Parks and Community Services Department.
“We spend an hour or so pulling back the curtain and revealing the wizards of dance,” she said. “It’s really helped people new to dance understand the nuances and realize it’s OK to be a little confused and it’s the audience of something.”
Prior to the Saturday performance, master classes taught by the choreographers from the 10 different dance companies will be available for students in training.
Choreographer Alana O’Farrell Rogers, who has performed in several previous Chop Shops but is presenting for the first time this year, said while some pieces may not appeal to everyone, the festival as a whole has always resonated with audiences.
Inspired by her work at a local nursing home and the people she met there, O’Farrell Rogers said her piece “Rewind” is an examination of memory loss, which almost everyone can connect to.
“I realized just how difficult it is for them, for their families, to see them lose what they’ve had,” she said. “It’s about loss of identity, in the sense at that time when you no longer have a choice of who you are or who you want to be.”
The five-dancer performance had to be cut roughly in half from its original work to meet the 10 minute requirement for Chop Shop, but O’Farrell Rogers said the piece is still a complete work.
O’Farrell Rogers’ piece will be featured alongside San Francisco-based company The Foundry; Asher Lev from Brussels and Israel; Coriolis Dance of Seattle; Gabrielle Revlock of Philadelphia and New York City; Jamie Karlovich of Seattle; Lindsey Matheis of Portland and New York City; Project20 of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Stone is also showcasing a new work “A Way to See Where Other Things Are” a seven-woman piece examining the female form.
Tickets for the show are on sale at www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006.
For more information on the festival, visit www.chopshopdance.org.