‘High Strung’ Dance-Music Fusion, Tap Dance Flash Mob, Festivals, and More…

The French poet Charles Baudelaire said “Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals…” which defines the fusion of dance and music in High Strung, a program featuring Malashock Dance and the Chicago-based Kontras Quartet.

“Kontras Quartet is Art of Élan’s ensemble-in-residence,” John Malashock said, “and we are thrilled to perform together on stage at the Lyceum Theatre (May 31-June 2).

Malashock Dance and Art of Élan collaborated on “Minor Fall/Major Lift” in 2017.  This month, Art of Élan’s Ensemble-in-residence Kontra Quartet will be on stage with Malashock dancers.  Courtesy Images.

“There’s nothing like performing to live music of this caliber. I like it so much, because musicians and dancers interact on stage.”

The program of three dances opens with Malashock’s “After Dust,” a work for five dancers, with a female duet, male duet, and a trio.

The dance is set to a work by Mary Ellen Childs and integrated with “Tenebrae” by Osvaldo Golijov. Watch the Kontras Quartet play some Golijov.

“Christine Marshall is dancing with us again in ‘After Dust,’ which is a metaphor about working together,” Malashock said, “to build a house or to build a relationship.”

Here’s a clip of “After Dust” from 2009, with dancers Michael Mizerany and Christine Marshall.

The Kontras Quartet is known for its crisp precision and personality. Their repertoire spans centuries and genres, from the classics to folk, and Americana with Steve Martin on banjo.

Kontras Quartet: Francois Jenkins, Eleanor Bartsch, Jean Hatmaker, and Benjamin Weber. Image courtesy of Kontras Quartet.

“They will be up stage right,” Malashock said, “because the dancers need space, and there will be a lot of taking cues from each other. It’s fun for dancers who are intuitive musically. They get to know the musicians. When they raise their bow, the dancers have to be ready. Same for musicians. They have to know and watch.”

One of the players, Jean Hatmaker, a cellist, is Kate Hatmaker’s sister, the co-founder of Art of Élan and a violinist.

“They are a musical family,” Malashock said. “Jean used to dance and is well-prepared for this interaction.”

Malashock dancers include: Lauren Christie, Sarah Emmons, Courtney Giannone, Christine Marshall, Marisa Shimano, Brittany Taylor, Justin Viernes, Marty Dorado, Darren Oei, and Thom Dancy.

The second half of the program includes a choreographic experiment. Malashock dancers will perform the same dance twice, but to different musical scores.

“Intimate Letters” by Leos Janacek is dark and emotional, and “American Quartet” by Antonin Dvorak is about summer in Iowa.

“The music is vastly different, but the two pieces are written in four movements,” Malashock said.

“I’ve choreographed to Janacek’s “Intimate Letters,” very specifically to the music and its emotional quality, which can be dark and brooding, and gloriously sad. The Dvorjak piece is almost the opposite in feel, but the same in length, and we do the same dance but with different costumes and lighting.”

When Malashock did choreography on the fly at IDEA1 in February, the crowd was spellbound by the experimental outcome. I wrote about it for Sandiegostory.com.

With Kontras Quartet playing on stage,  Malashock says he’s is eager to try the double-dance-switch.

“When I tried a similar switch a long time ago in Los Angeles, there were happy accidents, in terms of phrasing and the whole experience. So I’m excited to see what happens this time.”

High Strung runs May 31-June 2, 2019. www.lyceumevents.org.

And there’s more dance ahead: 

National Tap Dance Day Flash Mob in Balboa Park – Saturday, May 25. Come out and tap with a few hundred friends in celebration of National Tap Dance Day at Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park. National Tap Dance Day is every May the 25th, a day designated by a bill in Congress to celebrate the art of tap dancing, and to honor the late Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and his birthday.


The San Diego International Fringe Festival runs June 6-16. Balboa Park and beyond. http://sdfringe.org/

Nations of San Diego International Dance Festival runs June 8-9 and 15-16 at the Spreckels Theatre. facebook.com/nationsofsd.

Jon Diaz of San Diego Dance Theater.

San Diego Dance Theater performs “Repertory Favorites” at the Veteran’s Museum. June 9. https://sddt.ticketleap.com/veterans/

An Evening for Life, a benefit production, in support Empty Cradle, an organization that serves those touched by the tragic loss of a baby. The performance is raising funds for bereavement care and healing families. Horton Grand Theatre. June 24. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-for-life-tickets-57369611051







  1. Michael Mizerany on May 23, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Oh my Lord. 10 years ago! If I did that piece now, I would break a hip. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Looking forward to seeing Justin Viernes stepping into my track. Get your tixs!

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