WEB EXCLUSIVE: Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago bursts with energy

July 1, 1993

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago bursts with energy

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The second performance in the Rockford Dance Company season features an exciting, internationally famous guest company. Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago brings its dynamic dancing style to the stage of the historic Coronado Theatre at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23. Tickets are $18 to $27 and are available through CentreEvents at (815) 968-5222.

Founded in 1962, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago develops and preserves the uniquely American art form of jazz dance. Remember all the dance numbers based on American popular music in the movies and on Broadway, and you’ll have a good idea of the tradition they preserve. For school performances, they can present a program tracing the history of jazz dance that ranges from its roots in Africa to Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins on Broadway. According to renowned dance historian Ann Barzel, “In the exhilaration of its presentations, it mirrors the freedom that we like to think is the American way.”

Pushing the boundaries

This amazing company also explores new territory with original dance works that border on ballet (Gus and Nan Giordano’s jazz version of The Firebird), or touch on the avant-garde (Mia Michaels’ Le Grand Futur is Here!). They can be energetic, as in Randy Duncan’s Can’t Take This Away. Barbejoy Ponzio wrote in The Austin Chronicle that “… the dancers swirled tempestuously across the stage to a wonderful score of gospel music. They executed dynamic movements with inviting charisma and charm…” At other times, the company can be quietly tender, as in Surrender. Laura Molzahn described Alberto Arias’ choreography in the Chicago Reader as: “…softer and more romantic but just as theatrical. This piece for three couples illustrates the strength and maturity required to give up, most movingly shown in an image that suggests being lifted by a wave…”

Hispanic & African-American styles

In 2000, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago premiered La Raca del Barrio, a new work by Cuban-American choreographer Liz Imperio. Artistic Director Nan Giordano, remarking that the rehearsals were filled with positive energy, said: “…the movement was not about steps but style and feeling that comes from within. The latter is always the hardest part of a new work.”

A popular work in their repertoire is Billy Siegenfeld’s Getting There, to music of Thelonius Monk and Count Basie. Writing in the Houston Chronicle, Molly Glentzer said, “Getting There crackled with energy and took the company through a range of emotion seldom associated with jazz dancing.”

Without doubt, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago is among the most acclaimed and exciting dance companies in the world. In Europe, the reviews are enthusiastic. For example, the Neue Westfalische said the performance was “an adventure for the senses.” The Stadblatt Hurth described “Flying bodies that dance stories full of tempo, strength and passion.” In America, the Bar Harbor Times wrote, “In short, wow!” The Chicago Tribune said that Can’t Take This Away was a “riotous explosion of color and enthusiasm, an accelerating onslaught of ecstacy.”

For information, visit the Gus Giordano Web site at www.giordanojazzdance.com.

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