The Dancer: Katie Malia
February 23, 2016
Who can make you feel good?
Who makes you wanna dance?
Who can turn your frown upside down?
Who’ll make you tinkle your pants?
Who can take a rainbow & wrap it in a sigh?
Soak it in sun & make a groovy lemon pie?
Katie can do all of that and so much more…
where are you from?
i was born in newport beach, ca – a nautical suburban sprawl of marinas, harbors, sand dunes, and highways. the coastline is stunning. the people, not so much. helps explain why i packed my suitcase and headed to the big apple post-graduation for some much needed artistic and academic inspiration.
what kind of dancer are you and how long have you been dancing?
i will always be a ballet dancer at heart, though the past 7 years i’ve been making my career
as a commercial dancer first in new york and now here in los angeles. my work requires a knowledge of all techniques from contemporary jazz to burlesque to hip-hop for live performances, music videos, tours, commercials, tv, and feature film. i did my first plie` at 5.
what does it feel like to be on stage performing?
it absolutely depends on the job and choreographer! music is everything. it’s the foundation and catalyst for movement. if i’m performing a piece with music that truly moves my spirit, it feels like magic. a gorgeous song coupled with brilliant choreography can tear my soul into a billion pieces both on stage and in rehearsal – every cell of my being is alive and free. performing is the most beautiful balance of freedom and expression within a set structure of absolutes. that being said, if i’m performing for a paycheck (which often involves a celebrity or pop star and poor concept), then i focus on getting the job done for the choreographer and client while counting down the minutes until it’s over!
do you notice the crowd or are you lost in dance?
i am always aware of the crowd making sure every audience member is taken on an emotional journey, be it to an introspective and reflective or bright and carefree or flirty and coy space. live stage is magical because the performance only happens once – it’s like sharing secrets with strangers. i feel it’s my responsibility to express and provide a platform for the audience to escape. their response is vital for my motivation. nevertheless, performance space needn’t be confined to the stage; since most of my jobs are camera based requiring multiple takes, class has become a space where i feel the most free to be lost in dance.
which performances make you proud?
i’ll never forget my first professional job dancing on saturday night live while still a full-time freshman student in new york. i remember taking the subway downtown from columbia university campus to rockefeller center just pinching myself repeatedly. working numerously with fatima robinson and michael rooney are always memorable experiences; and most recent, the los angeles museum of contemporary art performances helmed by the brilliant visionary, ryan heffington, were totally insane, cerebral, and visceral.
who is your all time favorite dancer and how would you spend an evening with him/her?
sylvie guillem is an absolute genius phenomenon and pure artist from red head to pointed toe. she never ceases to evolve as a dancer while challenging and pushing the boundaries of dance. her performance of bolero is the most raw, punk, and moving piece. i’d spend an evening just watching her dance, then finish in a symposium with twyla tharp.
would you encourage your child to follow your footsteps as a dancer?
i have mixed feelings about this. while extensive ballet training provides discipline, strength, and artistic understanding, it’s also done a serious number on my physical body and mental development. my understanding of what is acceptable has been defined by years of validation, and training within a world of absolutes has made me an obsessive perfectionist and freak disciplinarian. i don’t believe ballet is healthy for a child’s creativity and imagination. a child needs expansion and should never edit his/her ideas, let alone be afraid to break any rules or boundaries in their art. this fear of failure can carry into their personal and professional adult life for years. if he/she wants to dance, i will likely balance technical training with a discipline that is more free like yoga, contemporary jazz, and hip hop.
what inspired you to become a dancer?
my mom, who was a modern dancer. also, that never ending electric feeling i get every time i move. i don’t feel like i chose dance. it chose me. the ability to connect with an audience without the use of words is a powerful vehicle that brings me unspeakable joy and life. i always default to this live electric charge whenever i feel too tired or unmotivated to rehearse/audition/choreograph/perform. it’s my rabbit’s foot.
what do you collect?
heaps and heaps of costumes! you never know when you’re going to need a rainbow sequin jumpsuit with platform shoes, afro wig, and curb link chains topped with a military safari hat, you know? desert storm? i got it. ice-cream suit with maraschino cherry hat? yup. 1980’s russian ice skater or gymnast complete with mary lou retton nylon ripstop warm-ups? done.
what do you do when you’re not dancing?
i listen to music and write. i pretty much spend all my earnings and time downloading and searching new music. i also read a lot, play music with my rad/weird/experimental/instrumental art band barnacle, go see shows, walk my four-legged friends, and freelance write for daily candy.
what do you do to unwind that you probably shouldn’t as a dancer?
what are your favorite online shops?
creaturesofcomfort.us – i’m a serial rachel comey credit card killer. mohawkgeneralstore.net – because i have a girl crush on co-owner bo carney. creativegrowth.org – a great cause from even greater artists. okthestore.com – heath ceramics makes great gifts. take a hint. hanselfrombasel.com – dancers live in tights and socks. jonsi.com – for daily inspiration. thecanalhouse.com – to appease hunger pains. empiricstudio.com – wish list. have a seat.
what is your is your most delicious creation in the kitchen?
my seafood saffron bouillabaisse (with bottle of 2002 von hovel riesling on hand for frequent cool downs). perfect for a rainy day with my fiance.