The Music and Theatre Arts Department is excited to welcome Stephen (SK) Stone as UW-Eau Claire’s new lecturer of dance. Stone has entered his new position this fall with expansive experience, well-equipped to prepare his students with the tools, knowledge, and skills to excel post-graduation. His professional experience does not fail to impress, both as a performer and in his students’ success.
Stone grew up in North Carolina, taking theater and dance classes as a child, noting the decision was much different than other extra-curriculars like playing sports. He performed both tap and jazz in high school, finding passion in the art of dance. Stone entered his undergraduate at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, set to major in math and computer science. It was his desire to continue dancing on the side that propelled him to transition to a Bachelor of Arts in Choreography and Performance. Stone continued with his educational journey, earning a Master of Fine Arts in Choreography.
With over 30 years of teaching higher education, Stone ensures that he has time to perform professionally or teach in residencies. His performance, direction/choreography, and teaching interests traverse ballet, concert dance, and musical theatre. Many of Stone’s students have had tremendous success in the professional space, whether performing on National Tours with artists like Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, or Paramour, performing for network studios like ABC and Warner Brothers, or performing at famous award shows like the Oscars, Tony Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards. As an instructor, Stone notes that his spirit is in educating. “That’s why I do what I do – the goal is student success.” His professional experience provides a unique framework for his role as an instructor, “I am aware of the complexities and layers of the human psychology of performance and providing depth. The information goes much deeper for students.” says Stone. Stone mentions his role in the performance of Herr Drosselmeyer in Ballet Arkansas’ 2019 “The Nutcracker,” the performance garnering 10,000 people in sold out houses, working with over 200 cast members and crew. “Performing teaches strength and resilience, but also how to effectively communicate with others. For my students it is important for me to affirm their investment, which aids in their self-belief. Acknowledging students, knowing the importance of their role and their value.”
Transitioning into his role at UW-Eau Claire, Stone reflects on his goals for the program and what he hopes to achieve. “When looking at goals, I must ask myself what has momentum already? What is the potential of the dance program and how much support is there?” Stone highlights the importance of his role as program director to learn the history, look within the parameters of what is already planned, and be aware of interests and resources. Stone notes his excitement for the opportunities Pablo Center brings for his students. “When performing and rehearsing in a facility like Pablo Center, it increases the general interest of what you can do. The facility shows industry standards behind the stage and what makes performances possible. It is a quality tier of work that is of professional quality, clearly refined and polished.”
Stone sheds a spotlight on students who may be considering the dance program. “There's introduction and intermediate jazz, contemporary, and tap. The program provides an outlet for students to recognize what it is like to be in your physical, intellectual body. We as people capitalize on cognition, but when you physicalize something; it is mortal. Our physical vessel is how we transform information, our sensory experience takes over. Dance encourages students to experience life through their physical body. Students of all abilities thrive in their body, flowing in a new way.”
To view the viral video of Professor Stone’s DNCE 101 class performing their Thriller Flash Mob, click here.