Not Walking Into The Sunset

by Jacqueline Bull January 3, 2018


john-malashock-2This past December, Malashock Dance company celebrated their 30th anniversary of being an influential member of the San Diego arts community.

Founder and artistic director John Malashock took some time to take a call after returning from a trip in Chicago where he was restaging “The Pearl Fishers,” an opera production that originated in San Diego.

We talked briefly on the arts scene in Chicago and San Diego and their relative merits, “I think there is a lot of very strong work being done here. A lot of really good quality artists,” John Malashock said. John and other artists in San Diego have to navigate working in an arts community that is not as widely recognized as say the beaches and tacos. “For me it is a little bit of a double-edged thing, you do have to work a little harder to get noticed … On the other hand, it allows you to just do the work you want to do perhaps with more freedom than when you are in a fishbowl.”

During a time of reflection, a show that he remarks as a highlight of Malashock was “Minor Fall/Major Lift.” The show was a collaboration with Art of Élan and featured original music composed by Judd Greenstein. “There was something very special about this concert. The blend [of] variety [and] music, the quality of the [NOW Ensemble] musicians playing–phenomenal music, and then being able to work with Judd on a brand new piece. [The] work delved into our Jewish roots, with a piece called ‘The Jewish Pope.’ It was something of a storytelling narrative piece. I think it really intrigued people.”

Reaching the 30th anniversary milestone, John explains that many people are asking him to comment and reflect on the organization’s history. “At this juncture, I’m looking back at a rather substantial body of work and period of time that I’ve been working. I tend to be a pretty forward-looking person and I’m driven by what’s coming up – what I’m working on. And I feel like I still have plenty of work to do. I’m not looking at walking off into the sunset or anything.”

He adds that he is proud that they have become a multi-faceted organization with the professional company, educational arm, outreach programs and working in different schools in the area. “It is nice to see it having blossomed that way,” John said.

In the near future, he has been working on a project with composer Yale Strom that he hopes to bring to fruition in the next couple of years. “It is sort of a dance-based musical based on the life and work of Marc Chagall,” he said. He considers it a bigger endeavor than some of the other shows. “It has really stretched me. Sometimes the work I’m doing I consider purely in the artistic realm. Something like this has to have a foot in both the artistic and the entertainment realm. It is fun working that way.”

And what keeps him coming back into the studio after all these years, still inspired to create new work? John offers, “Part of what feeds me, inspires me, is seeing how dance combines with other art forms.” He has worked and collaborated with musicians, visual artists, writers, video artists, and essentially “mixed it up a lot” in his career. “Dance in itself is a collaborative process. There is a certain chemistry to that,” he adds.

The chemistry of collaboration, variety in the work and always having an eye on the next production are all things he credits to nurturing his passion. He explains, “Each time I’m making a new piece it is going to be a different experience.”

“It’s weird, as an artist, you don’t think in terms of it being a regular job, ‘Okay, at some point I’m just done.’ That is not the motivation,” John said, “I still have the desire and the need to create work.”

The company will perform a 30th anniversary concert March 15-25 at the Lyceum Theater. Α


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