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cs: sam kolodezh takes us into a stone dance collective rehearsal

[Thanks, Sam, for writing this lovely piece so we can get a sense of what rehearsals with Eva Stone and the rest of the Collective are like. Break a leg this weekend! – Rosie]

By Sam Kolodezh

Working with Eva Stone is not like working with Donald Byrd or Peter Boal: it is much less glamorous.

But, Eva has the magnificent ability to make art exactly what it should be, an experience.

The Stone Dance Collective is comprised of a bizarre group of people from different kinds of backgrounds and ages. There is a high school student, some college students, some have had international careers, others have already finished their degrees, and still others are dancers in love with being upside down. Almost everyone has worked with Eva before, and everyone is friends. We’re not in love friendship-bracelet friends, but you can tell that we dance together. There is no doubt that we are a collective. The power structure doesn’t exist and there’s never a rehearsal without at least on smile.

Sunday morning, the company ambles into the studio at around eleven in the morning. There is always someone late. Everyone has a job, responsibilities, and a life. We’re not the romanticized dancers of little Sally’s Barbie Swan Lake.

Eva is sitting in the splits sipping on a grande non-fat latte with one Splenda, wearing a Cold Play sweatshirt that is always glued to her waist, and black yoga pants. Her hair is a mess and she is smiling naturally as we all trickle in to begin rehearsal.

There is no tension in the room. We all casually stretch, talking about the week, talking about art. Alastair Macaulay is a favorite critic to bring up. I usually say some snide remark and get gently smacked across the head.

Eva believes that all movement should communicate; it’s her catch phrase. And as we begin our warm up, there is usually something communicative about it. It’s not that it’s spiritual or that it has some deeper meaning—we’re not a collective that follows any deep set dancer constitutions—but it’s movement that is simple and unexaggerated.

We finish our warm up, exchange a few jokes, and start rehearsing the piece. The rehearsal is a nice combination of what she likes to call “knit picking” and general corrections, and reminders filled with both professionalism and laughter.

“You guys are one count off on the cannon. Let’s try it again.”

“Maybe we need to run with the music, because it’s not working just counting.”

“You’re probably right. OK, let’s try it with the music.”

Everyone chimes in an opinion, respectfully, but we are a collective.

At the end of the day, its Eva’s simple approach that makes working with her an experience of art and seeing her work an experience of what it is to be human. She is spontaneous in her creation, and in her reactions, making art exactly what it should be: human, simple, alive, and beautiful.

I wouldn’t trade working with her for anything else. Well, maybe a paid trip to Europe. I mean, let’s not over exaggerate.