Life manages to be the source of inspiration behind almost every artist’s work. Personal experiences, integrated with human and environmental interaction, make up masterpieces that woo and wow audiences globally, whether it’s a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period or a concept performance from Gregory Dolbashian’s creative journey. Dolbashian is the artistic director behind “DASHOW,” the latest production from The DASH Ensemble dance company. A love letter to the human experience, “DASHOW” invites audiences to reflect on their own voyages through life on April 29 at Thalian Hall.
“The show contains a huge range of both movement and theatrics, in terms of light to dark and serious to comedic,” Dolbashian says. “Our ultimate goal is to push the range within all of us as performers and how many different mediums one can interweave cohesively into one show—similar to how life isn’t made of one single component.”
The DASH Ensemble’s current members have been performing together since 2012. Their six core dancers come from very diverse backgrounds, a quality which allows them to connect with audience members from many different walks of life. The name “DASH” is derived from the dash between one’s birth and death dates.
“In between those dates is your life,” Dolbashian specifies.
When it comes to storytelling, dance is Dolbashian’s preferred language. Watching a fellow human illustrate a story with their own body in the way a painter may use a brush makes the connection between performer and audience undeniably raw. DASHOW creates this universe through his own blend of texture.
“[It] emphasizes the transition between leaving childhood, entering adulthood, and all of the redemption that one can find through a lot of these awkward phases,” Dolbashian states.
With the juxtaposition of fluidity and control, DASH performers encompass high and low points of life. They engage in love and personal achievement, loss and rejection.
“A lot of great things can come into your life, even the things that seem scary, off-putting or challenging can end up being some of the best that happen to you,” Dolbashian says. “Finding flexibility and patience to read between the lines of your life is a major part of this show.”
Dolbashian uses his own life as a template for the piece to help others realize obstacles and losses are all just a part their story. With three monologues based on different points in his life, he invites audiences into moments from childhood to young adulthood.
“The first monologue is about me as an adolescent, finding dance and building my relationship with it,” Dolbashian tells. “The second monologue is about me growing up a little more: what it’s like to be straight in the dance world, and how girls and other guys in the industry react to that. It’s very comedic.”
Recalling a time when he was preparing to do his first major dance auditions, Dolbashian remembers feeling nervous and that maybe going through with it would be a waste of time. “If I had quit, and refused to show up to that audition, you and I literally wouldn’t be having this conversation right now,” Dolbashian says. “Simply showing up can have a huge effect on your trajectory, while recognizing that it’s only half the battle.”
His third monologue is a scene of him as an adult here, with a co-performer who addresses certain behavioral habits. Much of the show responds to the internal wars we have with ourselves, or someone else in our lives, who push us to improve. Breaking certain habits or reaching for new heights, though, can take time—for some more than for others.
“There’s so much work that’s involved with living,” Dolbashian adds. “I try to use that parallel between the kind of work that it takes just to pursue anything creative or any other way we build our lives.”
The DASH Ensemble group will debut “DASHOW” for a one night-only performance on April 29 at Thalian Hall.