Giordano Dance Chicago is celebrating an unbelievable fifty years of being one of the most impressive dance companies anywhere, and as much as it’s an incredible milestone for the Company, the significance of the celebration goes way beyond just the Company itself. Giordano Dance has accomplished the astonishing feat of being true to a brilliant and original vision, that of the legendary Gus Giordano, while continuing to change in remarkably diverse and creative ways. At the Company’s site, giordanodance. org, they talk about their mission “to create and present new and innovative jazz dance choreography, often redefining and expanding the very definition of jazz dance”, but that’s an understatement.
A Giordano show is always a multi-layered display of art and entertainment, not so much defying barriers and boundaries as transcending them. True to their origins in Jazz Dance, they always manage to light up an audience like very few companies can; true to their commitment to the discovery of new artists and new forms of dance art, they always do so with a carefully conceived vision. The Company’s performance this weekend (October 26 and 27th at the Harris Theater in Chicago) features a characteristically intriguing mix of imagination and emotions, including the world premiere of G-Force from Artistic Associate Autumn Eckman, Gus Giordano’s own classic Wings, and last season’s impressive and successful JOLT. The other works on the program cover a wide landscape of visions and thoughts and still flow together in a typically well-designed evening; Mia Michaels’ Le Grand Futur is Here!, Del Dominguez and Laura Flores’ Sabroso, Mark Swanhart’s Sidecar and Lindsey Leduc’s Gravity complete a collage of classically successful Giordano Dance.
One of the ways the Company has always stood out, especially under Artistic Director Nan Giordano, is by inviting a broad range of talented choreographers to create new works. Brock Clawson was one such guest choreographer, his 2009 Give and Take was a critical and audience favorite, and his perspective on the Company is a bright and informative one. “I have such a huge respect for any dance company that can last fifty years and still be going strong, constantly changing and constantly staying at the forefront of the dance world,” Clawson says. He goes on to describe what it was like working with the iconic Company, especially coming from a background that would more often be described as ‘contemporary’ than as ‘jazz’. “They’re very versatile”, he says, and goes on to include both the company leadership and the always-impressive dancers. “Nan as a Director was incredibly supportive,” he continues, “I felt like I and the Company both found the best sides of eachother. That’s why the Company still exists, because they have the ability after fifty years to continue to evolve and yet stay true to their own unique style.”
Giordano Dance Chicago has a furious touring schedule; in 1974 they were the first jazz dance company to be invited to tour the Soviet Union (because when the Bolshoi was touring the U.S. they saw a Giordano performance) and they haven’t really stopped since. They tour Europe this November, and next year they’re performing in Hawai’i, Turkey, and Brazil, to name a few stops. It’s like that every year, because wherever they go, audiences that see them want to see them again. That’s why, if you’re anywhere near the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago this weekend, this would be a great show to see. Maybe twice.