Autumn 2022Dance

Legacy Unveiled: Giordano Dance Celebrate 60 Years of Stellar Artistry

There’s something pretty compelling about a legacy. After all, the very nature of a legacy is that it lasts. And art that creates a lasting impact speaks succinctly to the very power of that art.

Celebrating the power of legacy is what Giordano Dance’s (GDC) coming fall production is all about. Sixty years after her father, Gus Giordano, launched his flagship jazz dance school in Evanston, and with it his trademark Giordano technique, GDC artistic director Nan Giordano is still thrilling audiences with sterling performances, world premiere works and talented choreographers emerging  from the dance company that bears the family name.

And this fall’s performance at The McAninch Arts Center (MAC) will be no different. On Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m., GDC will present a wide selection of some of the most popular works in the company’s expansive repertoire and give the MAC audience a preview of a new work by GDC’s new associate artistic director, Cesar G. Salinas. 

Following that performance, Salinas will lead a free disco-inspired dance class from the MAC’s Belushi stage. All patrons who attended the show and all skill levels are welcomed to enjoy.

But what exactly is that fabled Giordano jazz technique, the essence of that aforementioned legacy the company will celebrate on October 15? Technically speaking, Nan Giordano describes it as a fluid “language” that emanates from the pelvis. “It’s about the joy and love for life that it exudes…Whether we’re doing a Giordano or a Liz Imperio piece, it’s all about soul and joy.” And that joy is what audiences see and feel when Giordano Dance takes the stage. It’s what keeps them coming back season after season, that lasting impact that comprises the legacy Gus Giordano began 60 years ago.

The fall program will include choreographer Tony Powell’s exciting 2006 work, Impulse. The propulsive work is presented with 10 dancers and set to a diverse mix of percussive music. The performance will mark the first Giordano Dance reboot of the work in more than 13 years.

Also included on the program will be Giordano Moves (2005). Set to original music by George McRae, this Nan Giordano remount features the quintessential Giordano technique established by Gus Giordano 60 years ago.

Giordano Dance alum Autumn Eckman’s 2009 work common thread will showcase the choreographer’s more primal bent set to an eclectic original composition by musician Dan Myers. 

The popular Giordano Dance work, Groove, in formed (2019), by Peter Chu will follow, presenting fluid, jazz-born dance narratives that originated the art form.

Likely an audience favorite this fall will be Soul (2018) by So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Ray Leeper. The electrifying work features chart toppers by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Greens and Tina Turner. Soul explodes onstage with breathtaking leaps and bounding, unbridled joy.

But perhaps the highlight of the evening will be the unveiling of a new piece by GDC’s newly appointed associate artistic Director Cesar G. Salinas. Salinas sets his new work on five dancers to music by Travis Lake and Medwyn Goodall. The company describes the piece as “…connecting through the heartbeat and creating unification of driving rhythms.” Expect an emotive and inspiring display amid an evening of celebration and reflection.

For 60 years, Giordano Dance has served as an iconic cultural leader in the world of dance and an integral part of Chicago’s vibrant performing arts landscape. From its origins in founder Gus Giordano’s original school in Evanston, to its current incarnation as a world-class dance presenter, GDC boasts over a half-century of worldwide performances spanning 28 countries, 47 states and more than 1,300 cities. The company has made a powerful imprint on the art form of jazz dance that is far-reaching and significant. For 38 years GDC has been under the Artistic Leadership of Nan Giordano, who is responsible for commissioning numerous groundbreaking works, the mentoring of hundreds of young dancers and choreographers, and the development of the Nan Giordano Certification Program. The Program, which offers multi-level instruction and certification in the pro-prietary Giordano Technique, has certified dance educators in 36 states and seven countries, all inte-grating the Technique into their college, high school, and studio programs. Each Spring, GDC’s “Jazz Dance/Science & Health” program teaches elementary school anatomy and nutrition through a dance-centric program in Chicago Public Schools science classrooms, all creating a legacy that not only lasts, but grows, creating powerful and meaningful cultural experiences for generations to come.