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VIDEO: “Malashock/RAW 2” taps into LGBT themes through modern dance

SAN DIEGO -- The Malashock Dance Company will be performing the second installment of what is one of its most daring shows, “Malashock/RAW 2,” at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre from Oct. 20-22.

The company’s founder, John Malashock, is a world renowned dancer and choreographer who trained with Twyla Tharp Dance for many years before resettling in San Diego with his family and opening his own studio in 1988. With over 60 original works and four Emmy nods for dance films in his repertoire, Malashock is a name that is synonymous with modern dance.

“Malashock/RAW 2” is one of the more avant-garde performances for the company, with more excitement, sheer physicality and movement than some other modern dance shows that are currently running.

“When you think of modern dance you may think it’s going to be slow and boring with people looking out at the audience, Malashock/RAW is not that at all,” said Michael Mizerany, who serves as the associate artistic director for Malashock and choreographed a piece in “Malashock/RAW 2.”

“It’s skin, sweat and non-stop action, it’s a visceral experience, and you’re going to feel it in your gut. So toss out all of those ideas you might have about modern dance and come to ‘Malashock/RAW’ and you’ll be really surprised at how much you liked it.”

The program includes new works by John Malashock, Michael Mizerany and two visiting choreographers from Mexico.

This year “Malashock/RAW” will be featuring guest choreographers Angel Arambula and Henry Torres from Lux Boreal Danza Contemporánea, Mexico. The duo will be presenting their all new, original work called “Harem.” Their piece focuses on communication or lack thereof between people who share a common goal and the internal mechanisms applied to reach that goal.

“I saw a work they did and fell in love with the work and them, so when John and I were talking about doing another RAW, I said, ‘I think Lux will be great.’ So we just called them and said ‘Hey we have this great idea, do you want to be a part of it?’ and they said ‘Yeah we do.’ It was that easy, we’ve known them for years, we really like them and we really like their work,” Mizerany said.

Malashock’s performance is called “Piece of Work!” It’s edgy, a little dark and a little funny. Mizerany will be featuring his new work called “Desperate Love,” which examines the compromises and regrets associated with the search for true love.

A majority of the choreographers in this year’s “Malashock/RAW” are LGBT and in Mizerany’s piece some LGBT themes are revealed to the audience.

Malashock Dance isn’t simply a company that tours and produces amazing dance spectacles, part of their program focuses on the teaching aspect of their studio. They are the training ground for almost 200 dancers whose ages range from preschool children to dancers in their 60s.

The dance school also commits to various outreach programs in the community that help present dance to groups that would otherwise never have the opportunity to see their version of “emotion in motion.”

“Our teachers go in and teach outreach in schools, these are schools that don’t have the money to pay for art. So they get grants and we get grants so that we can go in and teach art to them,” Mizerany said.

Another concept that Malashock Dance has been embracing is an open to the public choreography session. Malashock has a live audience to witness how choreography is developed and they get to see firsthand how a piece comes to life. It’s one of their most popular programs and always sells out, after all, it’s a rare glimpse into the world of choreography and dance that is usually reserved for dancers only.

“Anyone can go and see it and we actually do it before our big shows,” Mizerany said. “John will build a section of a work in front of an audience. He puts on the music, we come out, he does movements, we copy it and then he builds the dance from that. It’s really intimidating because you hope you have good ideas and as a dancer you hope that you can pick up fast enough that you don’t look like a schmuck. When you make work there’s usually not an audience and having an audience watch you makes you really self-conscious for about 10 minutes but after a while you get used to it and sort of just go with the flow.”

In addition to the team from Lux Boreal, there will also be eight guest artists performing with the dance company.

The details

On opening night, Thursday, there will be a reception preshow at 6:30 pm, hosted by Lei Lounge. There will be wine, hors’ devours and time to mingle before the premiere performance at 8 pm.

For tickets, go HERE or call (619) 260-1622.