Malashock Dance Company to host 25th anniversary benefit concert in North Park
By Monica Garske | SDUN Reporter
For the past 25 years, the Malashock Dance Company has been bringing modern and contemporary dance to San Diego. Now the dance company, which also doubles as a non-profit organization focusing on dance education, is celebrating its milestone anniversary by doing what it does best: putting on a show.
Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9, Malashock Dance will take over the Birch North Park Theatre at 2891 University Ave. for a two-night show dubbed the “Malashock Dance 25th Season Celebration Benefit Concert.”
John Malashock, founder and artistic director of Malashock Dance now located at Liberty Station, said the show at the Birch benefits his nonprofit as a whole, especially its educational outreach programs that help children from lower-income schools, as well as teens with special needs.
Some of those include “Dance with thisABILITY!,” a program that benefits young adults from St. Madeline Sophie’s Center, and the “Academics in Motion” program at Freese Elementary School, where students spend an hour a week enjoying a dance lesson linked to their current academic curricula, whether it be math, reading comprehension, history or geography.
For instance, first-grade students learn reading comprehension skills by exploring the concepts of character, plot and setting through dance movement, while third-graders choreograph dances based on haiku in order to explore Japanese culture and history. Fifth-graders study history and geography through dances that reflect landscapes, tools and communities of settlements in the Americas.
Meanwhile, the Malashock Dance “Math in Motion” program serves local sixth-grade students with cross-curricular classes that integrate dance, physical education and mathematical concepts.
“We run our outreach programs all year long. We like programs that tie dance to academics because they offer different, unique ways for kids to learn,” Malashock said. “The retention on these programs is great too, because the kids really remember the lessons through dance.”
For Malashock, who began his San Diego-based dance company in 1988 after performing with Twyla Tharp’s company in New York City, these community outreach programs are forever a part of his company’s work.
“They allow us to have a broader reach into our community and spread dance education,” said Malashock, who grew up in La Jolla but now lives in Mission Hills.
Malashock believes reaching out to youth through dance is particularly important.
“Dance provides opportunities for self-expression in a way that can’t happen in other ways. Not everyone is good at verbal expression. Dance can unlock something in people, in kids in particular,” he said.
It is that kind of deep expression Malashock hopes to convey to the audience through his special 25th anniversary benefit concert in North Park.
Malashock said the show will be divided into two distinct halves. The first part of the concert is called “A Man Found Waiting,” which features live music from renowned pianist Gustavo Romero.
“This half will feature short stories and character studies told through dance, accompanied by this amazing music,” Malashock said.
The second part of the program will feature a re-staging of “Fathom: The Body as Universe,” Malashock’s collaboration with Japanese artist Junko Chodos.
“I’m really liking the balance between the two halves. It’s a visual and auditory treat for both the senses and emotions,” Malashock said.
The concert will boast 15 dancers from his company with varied backgrounds.
In the end, Malashock said he hopes the show resonates with the audience and that attendees walk away with a deeper appreciation for dance.
“I want them to leave with a lasting image of the work they’re seeing on that stage, so that they’re still thinking about it a day, a week or a month later. I want people to understand that dance is not a foreign language. It’s accessible; you can feel so much through dance,” he said.
Malashock said the show is designed to stimulate anyone who enjoys dance, music and visual arts, so an extensive knowledge of dance is not required to enjoy and understand the performance.
After the North Park show wraps, Malashock said his dance company will continue their anniversary celebration with other special events, including a dance musical he is developing for the La Jolla Playhouse. Those workshop performances are slated to begin in June.
The Birch North Park concert begins at 8 p.m. on both nights. Ticket prices range from $27 to $47 and can be purchased through the Birch box office by calling 619-239-8836 or visiting birchnorthparktheatre.net. VIP tickets, which include a pre-concert reception at West Coast Tavern and post-performance party, are available for $250.
To learn more about Malashock Dance and the company’s extensive youth outreach programs, visit malashockdance.org or call 619-260-1622.