OCEANSIDE — “Chagall: A Dance/Musical” brought a high-energy performance of professional and student dancers and musicians to the MiraCosta College stage Oct. 23.
Composer Yale Strom and choreographer John Malashock teamed up with MiraCosta College students and instructors to perform five acts of their 20-act production on the life of artist Mark Chagall.
College instructors Dave Massey and Steve Torok selected pieces by Strom to choreograph and arrange for the student segment of the performance.
Massey focused his choreography of Strom’s “Ten Plagues” on Chagall’s tumultuous childhood. “The dancers worked very hard to do that in seven rehearsals,” Massey said. “The piece became alive.”
Students were instructed by the artists on the history and culture of Jewish Klezmer music and World War II-era symbolism in the dances.
“Before the performance I didn’t know what Klezmer music was,” Vincent Lobascio, a MiraCosta Jazz Collective musician, said.” It’s so jazz-like, with the improvising and scales we use.”
“It’s satisfying to get to dance to live music,” Roberto Sanchez, a MiraCosta College dancer who portrayed Chagall on stage, said. “To dance with the composer, meet him, and know what the words are about, it comes full circle.”
The collaboration of professionals and students on stage gave something back to everyone. “It’s a great goal for students watching and doing,” Strom said. “I appreciate their creativity.”
“Culture only survives and grows if the next generation spits it back and creates new layers upon it,” Strom said.
Malashock’s dances, performed by Michael Mizerany, Blythe Barton, Lara Binder, Christine Marshall and company, used partner movements to depict Chagall’s relationships with his mom, girlfriend, wives and muse. “Chagall had a very rich life,” Strom said. “We put a lot of thought in what we could tell in two hours. What seemed to pop out was showing relationships.”
Aerobatic partner work was present in all five dances. “I have a fondness for partnering work,” Malashock said. “Women have to do a lot of the work and lifting.”
In addition to the relationships in Chagall’s life a comical scene portrayed his time in the military during World War II. “There couldn’t be a less fit solider,” Malashock said. “Thank goodness for everyone involved he got a desk job.”
The final full stage production by Strom and Malashock will be submitted to theaters across the United States. “We will have costumes, lighting, music, special effects, real musical theater with all the visual elements,” Strom said. “We want this to be a show combining movement with music. People flying on harnesses, up on rafters, musicians waking through isles. An extravaganza of creation, suspended belief brought into the world of Chagall.”
The Oceanside Museum of Art will host a lecture: The Life and Art of Chagall on Nov. 14 and music by Yale Strom in “Roots of Chagall: The Sights and Sounds of Vitebsk” on Dec. 8.