A big move in life can often require a three-part process. What to bring, what to leave behind and what to connect to going forward.
For Christopher K. Morgan, who began his position as the new artistic director for Malashock Dance this month, the big move from Hawaii to San Diego was surprisingly stress-free.
He and his husband — stage director Kyle Lang, who will direct San Diego Opera’s production of “Don Giovanni” next month — moved from their home in Maui last November.
The couch was left behind, the cars and the cabinet with emotional value were shipped and arrived in time.
“We had to be crucial about what we wanted to take and what to let go,” Morgan said with relief.
“We spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Orange County and four days after that, all of our stuff arrived for the apartment. We got lucky.”
Connecting with San Diego’s dance community was, for Morgan, a coming-full-circle experience.
In the 1990s, his first professional job was with Malashock Dance and he and founding director John Malashock kept in touch over the years, along with Lauren Christie, a current Malashock company dancer who was Morgan’s former student.
Morgan, who is Hawaiian, is well traveled and comes to San Diego with a long list of accomplishments.
He was born in California, the youngest of eight children, and he has lived abroad, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Maui.
Morgan completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at the University of Maryland and residencies at more than 20 conservatories and institutions of higher learning.
He serves on the National Council on the Arts, and during the summer he directs Art Omi: Dance, an annual collaborative residency for international choreographers in New York that focuses on building an artistic community.
Morgan also co-chairs the Association of Performing Arts Professionals and recently attended the gathering.
“It’s an annual convening every year in New York City and it brings together thousands of arts professionals from around the globe,” he explained.
“As an artist, I’ve been involved for years and Molly Puryear, our executive director (at Malashock), will join me. I’m excited to broaden our connections in San Diego with Malashock Dance and this international network that I’m a part of.”
As the new artistic director, one of Morgan’s first jobs was to assist in choosing the 10 choreographers who auditioned for “Everyday Dances III.” The four-day production, which opens Thursday at the company’s studios in Liberty Station, will give each dance-maker about seven minutes to present an original work.
The applicants came from all career stages, from skilled dance instructors to young artists who want to see their movement ideas realized.
“It was actually a very difficult process to select,” Morgan said. “There were over 30 applicants. The beautiful thing was, there was a real mix. We all really valued the diversity of artistic styles but also the diversity of the career spectrum.”
Morgan sat on a panel with company founding director John Malashock, executive director Puryear and board member Maria Benjamin.
The choreographers chosen to perform works in “Everyday Dances III” include Kyle and Gina Bolles Sorensen, founders of Somebodies Dance Theater; Jessica Rabanzo-Flores, a Malashock company dancer who created a work inspired by the book “Women Who Run With the Wolves”; prolific choreographer/dance instructor Khamla Somphanh; and newcomer Megan Curet, who earned a master’s degree in dance studies from London’s University of Roehampton and relocated to San Diego from New York.
“I look toward Everyday Dances as a seed of an idea that I would like to develop further in the years ahead, to help these choreographers who are aspiring to make work gain more traction,” Morgan emphasized.
“The connections and network that I have built over my career is another phase of that vision as well. How can I leverage this position in San Diego to introduce these choreographers, if they are interested, to these national networks and get them some opportunities outside of the San Diego community?”
In observing the choreographers for “Everyday Dances III” and considering the ecosystem of San Diego’s dance community, Morgan pondered areas of need.
“The number of working and aspiring choreographers in the community really surprised me,” he said.
“I didn’t know it was that big, to be honest. Something that has become increasingly clear to me is that there still needs to be more support for these artists. Space to make work. Funding for choreographers to pay their dancers. There is decent local funding in San Diego but a lot of independent artists aren’t eligible for that. So, how can we, as a somewhat larger institution, help to support those works?”
Malashock Dance presents: Everyday Dances III
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 28
Where: Malashock Dance Studio Theater 2650 Truxtun Road, Suite 200, Liberty Station, Point Loma
Tickets: $40, general; $35, seniors and military; $20, students; VIP reception on Saturday (includes wine, food, and preferred seating ticket) is $100
Luttrell is a freelance writer.