The Next Steps of Malashock Dance – The San Diego Union-Tribune
After more than 30 years, the Malashock Dance company has launched a campaign to find a new artistic director while continuing to evolve with its strong heritage of performance and community service.
That said, John Malashock, who founded the organization in 1988, is a tough act to follow.
He has choreographed over 100 modern dances and collaborated with numerous local and national arts organizations.
He is known for creating work for out-of-state companies and for inviting emerging choreographers to work on Malashock dancers, an effort that has helped make San Diego and Liberty Station, the company’s headquarters, a destination Entertainment.
“Times are changing,” says Malashock, who will share artistic director duties for one season and continue to mentor the chosen contestant.
“Working for 47 years in the field of professional dance provides an incredible reservoir of information and experiences to draw on. I don’t need to articulate this – it comes out of the work and from my point of view. But there is a saying: a person is what he is today, not what he was yesterday. It is something to be careful of. »
Last summer, Malashock traveled to Rhode Island to collaborate with Miki Ohlsen, artistic director of the Newport-based Island Moving Company.
He choreographed a dance called “Swells” and invited a group of dancers from the Island Moving Company to perform this weekend at the premiere of “Horizons,” a program of five new works.
“Horizons” presents new choreography to the public and brings dancers from different dance disciplines to San Diego.
“As we age and the dance field remains perpetually young, it creates a divide,” Malashock says. “You have to see things in a different way – to really connect with the dancers – and offer them something they wouldn’t get elsewhere.”
What dancers get when working with Malashock is exposure to his athletic and inventive choreography featured in “Horizons.”
The program presented on an outdoor stage at Liberty Station opens with “The Ride,” a two-movement work performed by eight company dancers to music by composer and Carlsbad Music Festival founder Matthew McBane.
The dance “Controlled Chaos” is a piece commissioned by Tristian Griffin, who worked in collaboration with Malashock and his company’s dancers in the creation of “The Bridge” last year.
The show was well received, and Griffin is now a candidate for the position of artistic director.
“Tristian creates very articulate, isolated sequential movements,” Malashock says appreciatively. “He comes from a solid background in ballet and modern dance. I think his style is an interesting balance with mine.
“Horizons” also includes “Just A Phase,” a suite of four works recently presented at the Without Walls (WOW) festival last month.
Justin Viernes, dancer with the Malashock company since 2011, was chosen to perform “The Hunter”, a solo from the suite.
“Justin has worked with me for so long, and in many ways he’s one of the most versatile dancers I have,” Malashock says. “He can work in so many styles, and he’s an intuitive dancer. I don’t need to explain so much what I’m looking for.
“The Hunter” is athletic, with quick stops and starts, circular patterns, and reaching-and-retracting arm gestures that suggest both chasing and being chased.
Viernes connects the piece to his personal struggles as a professional Asian dancer who doesn’t fit the stereotypical model that dance companies often prefer.
“John is a storyteller and his choreography interprets different relationships between people and communities,” says Viernes, who admits to being a “great perfectionist.”
“He just throws an idea out there to see what happens. That’s why I like his artistic direction. I have the right to express myself. With “The Hunter”, I got the title, and it went from there. I take everything and run with it. I gave up a lot in my personal life to dance and I was ready to be fearless. It’s one of the reasons why John and I have a good artistic relationship.
Viernes says that in today’s “dance climate” it’s important to be well balanced.
“Young dancers are looking for companies that will push them, not only as a dancer, but also stylistically and with more content creation. They are more about social justice and labor which has something to say.
Viernes also dances in “Swells”, the three-movement finale to “Horizons” which features a large cast of artists from the Malashock and Island Moving companies.
Malashock’s choreography in “Swells” was inspired by contrasting themes, the rise and fall of the ocean, the swelling of emotion that can occur in the comings and goings, and the disparate movement disciplines that blend together. in the dance.
“Island Moving Company defines itself as a contemporary ballet company,” says Malashock. “It’s never been exactly my world. I’ve been in the world of modern dance, and the word ‘contemporary’ kind of took over. I have earthy, grounded and driven movement qualities and they’re incredibly trained dancers, so it’s a real mix of styles. It was: how do you create this mesh in a way that works? I’m very happy with how it came out.
Executive Director Molly Puryear is also pleased with how the company is progressing and hopes audiences will become more aware of Malashock Dance’s contribution to the community for over three decades.
“I’m incredibly excited about what’s happening at Malashock Dance right now,” she says. “What people may not realize is that our school and outreach programs have served as a resource for San Diego dancers, students, schools and communities. We are thrilled to be on the brink of one of the most important phases of the organization’s growth.
Malashock Dance Company presents ‘Horizons’
When: 6:30 p.m. from May 26 to 29
Or: Outdoor Stage, Ingram Plaza, 2640 Cushing Road, Liberty Station
Tickets: $35 to $45, student, military, and senior discounts. Admission based on donations Pay what you can on May 29.
In line: malashockdance.org
Luttrell is a freelance writer.