Dancer John Malashock stays in step with progress on the arts in San Diego

John Malashock
John Malashock

John Malashock brings more than 35 years of experience in dance, theater and film to his current endeavors as Artistic Director of Malashock Dance & The Malashock Dance School. He has created some 60 choreographic works, dance/theater collaborations, theater and opera productions, and award-winning dance films.

John founded Malashock Dance in 1988 after a distinguished performing career with Twyla Tharp Dance in New York, where he danced from 1979 to 1984. Under his leadership, Malashock Dance has grown to become one of California’s premier dance companies and his work has now been presented throughout the United States, Central America, Japan and Central Europe.

He has garnered four Emmy Awards for his own dance films (“Love & Murder,” “The Soul of Saturday Night,” “Apologies from the Lower Deck” and “The Gypsy’s Wife”), which have aired on 30 affiliate PBS stations nationwide.

Malashock took a leadership role in conceiving, developing and establishing Dance Place San Diego, an 11-studio facility that is now home to Malashock Dance & The Malashock Dance School and used by most choreographers in the city.

What brought you to San Diego?

My family moved to La Jolla when I was 8 years old. I went to Scripps Elementary (now The Children’s School), Muirlands Jr. High, and La Jolla High. After my professional dance career in Europe and New York (with Twyla Tharp), my wife Nina and I decided to move back to San Diego (where our family is) temporarily, with our son, Duncan, until we formed more of a clear plan. Well, temporarily has turned into 27 years in a hurry ...

What makes this area special to you?

I remember, years ago, while I was living in New York, I was watching an old western on TV. All of the sudden, I found my face streaked with tears and a voice in my head saying “I need to be back out West.” Something about the spaciousness and variety resonates with me. I have often said to Nina that if I were blindfolded and dropped in La Jolla from anywhere in the world, I would recognize it from its unique air and feel.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

Easy answer. Luce Auditorium! Malashock Dance is now located at Liberty Station (Point Loma) in Dance Place San Diego, a facility I helped conceive. Right next door to the dance building is an auditorium with beautiful designs to be renovated into three performance spaces for dance and film. It would become our home theater, house numerous film festivals, and bring Liberty Station to life as a true destination for the arts.

Who or what inspires you?

People doing extraordinary things inspire me. I cry when I see athletes do things that don’t seem humanly possible. Writers who make their words dance thrill me. Dancers who blend their technical control with emotional abandon fascinate me. Artists who tap into something that is so personal that it becomes universal is where it’s at for me.

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