Student Blog: Experiencing “Wonderland” with Barak Marshall

October 15, 2019

six dancers leaning to the left with arms up

Members of the Class of 2022 rehearse Barak Marshall's "Wonderland" | Photo courtesy of Benjamin Peralta

At the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, we have the amazing opportunity to have a variety of artists and choreographers come in and share their knowledge and passion for dance with us. Barak Marshall, one of our Artists in Residence, is currently in the studio with us. He has shared much more than phrase work over these past few weeks.

My introduction to Barak Marshall

Barak Marshall is the son of acclaimed dancer, choreographer and singer Margalit Oved. He is known as one of Israel’s most celebrated dance artists, having previously served as the house choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company.

I remember the first time I saw his piece, ​”Monger,”​ on the television screens at USC Kaufman. It was around Week One or Two of my freshman year. I remember as I watched I kept asking myself who the choreographer was, because I thought they were golden.

I looked down at the bottom corner of the screen and read that the choreographer was Barak Marshall. From that point forward, I was beyond excited for the day to come that I would meet Barak. I was even more excited to have the chance to work with and learn from him.

Man standing at piano giving direction

Barak Marshall leading rehearsal with Kaufman BFA students | Photo by Carolyn DiLoreto

The draw of his work

There is something that really enticed me about Barak’s work. It is very gestural. There is so much precision, attack, emotion and overall a variety of textures to his movement vocabulary, which makes it unlike any other. I remember watching “Monger” on the screen and loving everything about his work. To this day I still can’t pinpoint every single aspect that I love, but clearly something is there, and it is alive. My love for his choreography and movement quality only continues to grow more and more.

As my freshman year went on, I had the amazing opportunity to not only meet Barak, but learn ​”Monger.”​ If you were to have asked the girl who was watching ​that piece​ for the first time last year if she had any idea what would be in store for her, I would have probably said, “No.” If you were to ask me about my experiences with Barak now, a year later, I can proudly and happily say that I have an amazing relationship with him. I have learned and continue to learn so much from working with Barak.

A large group of dancers in dresses strike the same angular pose on a dark stage

USC Kaufman students performing “Monger” at The Joyce Theater in February 2019 | Photo by Rosalie O’Connor


This semester for Repertory and Performance the sophomore, junior and senior classes have the amazing opportunity of having Barak set works on us. My class– the Class of 2022– is doing a piece called ​”Wonderland​.” This piece revolves around the concept of death and purgatory. It especially focuses on all the emotions that come with death, both before and after.

Being in rehearsal with Barak and experiencing his choreographic process has been very eye opening. Unfortunately, I am currently recovering from five tibial fractures and have been unable to be an active, dancing participant. However, with Barak and through his rehearsal process, I still feel seen. In his rehearsals, I am engaged and able to participate with what everyone else is doing!

I really appreciate what Barak has to offer not only to my class, but to the dance community. His style of movement and global perspective allow for any artist to find an outlet through his work. These past few weeks of Barak’s residency have been a much needed outlet of expression for me. He brought something out of my peers that I have never seen.

As the days go by, I am more and more eager for the day I get to be fully back dancing. I can’t wait to perform Barak’s work on-stage, in costume, full-out with feeling and with my classmates by my side.

By Emily Carr