By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
For 25 years, Malashock Dance’s mission has been to provide transformational experiences through the creation, performance, and teaching of dance that fires the imagination and celebrates the human spirit. Now located at NTC Liberty Station, the company is staging a 25th anniversary concert at the Birch North Park Theatre on March 8 and 9 to benefit some of their outreach programs, such as “Dance with thisABILITY,” a special program for young adults with developmental difficulties, and “Math in Motion,” a way of teaching geometry and algebra through dance.
Proceeds from the concert will also help provide scholarships for aspiring young dancers. The show will premiere “A Man Found Wanting,” a piece created by John Malashock in collaboration with renowned pianist Gustavo Romero to music by Leos Janacek. Also on the program is a restaging of “Fathom: The Body as Universe,” Malashock’s 2006 collaboration with Japanese artist Junko Chodos and Israeli composer Ariel Blumenthal that centers on the spiritual quest of a ninth century Japanese monk who journeyed to China to study Buddhism and then brought it back to Japan.
Malashock, the company’s founder, artistic director, and chief choreographer, is thrilled about the upcoming concert. “Celebrating this milestone, I wasn’t interested in having a retrospective, but I did want to give a nod to the past,” he said. “I chose ‘Fathom,’ one of our most impressive collaborative pieces, and then I wanted something new and different, so I went to Gustavo Romero, whom I’d always admired, and he was very excited about playing for dancers and using Janacek’s piano suites. The piece is a series of short stories and character studies to all this wonderfully emotional, edgy music, and it will really give the audience a chance to get to know the dancers.”
Malashock grew up in La Jolla, and said he was first introduced to dance as a student at La Jolla High School. From 1979- 84 he performed with Twyla Tharp’s company in New York and on tour, appeared in the film “Amadeus,” and was featured in numerous television specials.
Homesick for the West Coast, he returned to San Diego, establishing Malashock Dance in 1988. Since then, he has created many choreographic works, including pieces for La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Music Society and San Diego Opera.
He has won Emmy Awards for his dance films, most recently for “The Floating World,” a 2012 collaboration with the San Diego Museum of Art, UCSD-TV, and several local artists. In 2007, the year after establishing Dance Place at Liberty Station, he started the Malashock Dance School, which offers classes for students of all ages. Besides all this local activity, he’s on the Executive Committee of Dance/USA, based in Washington, D.C.
“I love bringing a kind of artistic voice to the community, using dance in a ritualistic and appealing way,” he said. “The development of Dance Place was my dream, and I helped it come true, and now with our Dance School and our outreach programs, we’re able to have an impact all year long.”
When he talks to his peers around the country, they say running a dance company for 25 years is a great accomplishment. But Malashock isn’t one to rest on his laurels. He’s looking forward to new opportunities for creative collaborations. First, though, there’s the silver anniversary concert.
“It’s going to be a great show, and a great way for us to celebrate with everyone,” he said. “So come on down!”
If you go
■ What: Malashock Dance 25th Season Celebration Benefit Concert
■ When: 8 p.m. March 8 and 9
■ Where: Birch North Park Theatre, 2891 University Ave., San Diego
■ Tickets: $27-$47 (Student/military/ senior discounts)
■ VIP Tickets: $250 (includes pre- performance reception at West Coast Tavern, onstage after-party)
■ Tickets: (619) 260-1622