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Meet John Malashock

25 years of dancing in SD

John Malashock

You grew up in La Jolla and went to La Jolla High. How did you get into dance? My girlfriend, Maggie, was taking dance for PE and convinced me to take it as well. I’m not sure I would have done it, except there were just three other guys who also took dance that year. Four guys, 26 girls. Do the math…

You lived in New York City and danced with Twyla Tharp’s company. You’ve also performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov. What’s your best backstage memory? The New York shows were fun because we always had celebs coming backstage to meet and congratulate us. I remember meeting Gene Kelly, Jackie Onassis, Paul Simon, Richard Avedon, Tommy Tune, Twiggy, Joel Grey, Dustin Hoffman, Andy Warhol, David Byrne, and John Irving, to name a few.

How do people elsewhere value dance differently from San Diegans? San Diego has a wonderful dance community, but it always suffers a bit from the perception that it is not a major cultural city. Comparing the value of dance in the US versus other parts of the world is apples and oranges. Europe, Canada, Australia, and parts of Asia consider the fine arts to be essential to life—not a luxury.

Tell us what we’ll see at your benefit concert this month. Fathom: The Body as Universe is a big, sweeping, dynamic collaboration of dance, artwork, and original music. And then the new work, A Man Found Wanting, is just the opposite. It is intimate and emotional—a series of solos, duets, trios, and quartets to the beautiful and haunting piano music of Leoš Janáček, which will be played live by the remarkable Gustavo Romero.

Do you collaborate with other performing arts groups? La Jolla Playhouse has been very supportive of a project I’m developing with composer Yale Strom, a dance musical called CHAGALL, based on the life, work, and relationships of the famous artist Marc Chagall. They have given us space for workshopping the show and guidance on how to develop it.

What’s your favorite theater space in San Diego? One that has not yet come to be. Luce Auditorium (next to Dance Place San Diego at Liberty Station) will become our home theatre once it is renovated and will truly transform Liberty Station as a destination. Anyone out there sitting on an extra $15 or $20 million?

How has San Diego theater changed in the last 30 years? The biggest change is the fact that there are many more layers and levels of work going on. There is a complete spectrum of exciting work—from emerging artists to established mid-level dance and theater companies, to the major, nationally recognized organizations. It feels like a much healthier artistic ecosystem.

Who else in San Diego theater are you watching right now? I really admire Christopher Ashley at La Jolla Playhouse. He is truly interested and supportive of artists and the development of their work. He is a talented director who is making good on his promise to be sincerely involved with our community.

Why are you still so committed to this town? There is something very powerful in the nature of “home.”

» 25th Anniversary Benefit Concert
Birch North Park Theatre
March 8 and 9

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