High energy, athletic, stunning–Giordano Dance.
One imagines that Busby Berkeley, the choreographer that put jazz dancing on the map for movie-goers so long ago, sat up in his grave, went wide-eyed, and smiled.
Here again is Giordano, taking the jazz dance to places not yet explored. It helps that their uber-athletic dance corps counts many dancers with extensive training in other dance genres, from hip hop to ballet to Broadway and beyond. More, so do the choreographers whose work was showcased in these evenings of dance at the Harris, October 28 and 29.
Strong Opener by Autumn Eckman
First up was a revival of choreographer Autumn Eckman’s 2010 work, “Yes, And…” What a strong opening‑with dancers flexing torsos, fingers and arms convex to concave and flying, and gliding artfully across the stage. By this reviewer’s lights “Yes, And…” was the most audience-centric dance of the evening, with Eckman seemingly ever watchful to fill the stage with fast flowing eye candy.
Populuxe Loving "Hi Jinks"
Populuxe styles and 60’s TV shows were spoofed in “Hi Jinks”, choreographed by Sam Watson in 1998. That era is captured so well you imagine Ozzie and Harriet were about to come out and dance too. If you wax nostalgic for poodle skirts, this would likely be a fave.
Many Giordano regulars may remember the “Shirt off my Back” by choreographer and dancer Ray Mercer, who is currently starring on Broadway in “The Lion King”. Somehow, this year’s presentation seems more energetic and quicker paced—an interesting piece somehow made all the more enjoyable by this year’s energy emanating from the stage.
Jon Lehrer’s couple dance “Cesura” is a good candidate for an X-rating, jazz dance style. It has a lights-on and lights off opening that captures you completely and instantly and memorably. Lovers’ yin-yang tensions is often the stuff of dance, and this work is in the short list of those that might summon an “Amen!, tell it like it is!” from its audiences.
Crowd Pleaser - "Algeria"
The finale was choreographer Kiesha Lalama’s "Algeria" (2011), which seemed to be a clear favorite of the many Giordano regulars in the crowd, perhaps many of whom are schooled in the Giordano techniques. Unlike the opener, it struck this reviewer that this is more a dance that might feel a certain way for the performers, in contrast to the “Yes, And…” opener that goes to great lengths to create a different movement universe from the first notes with the audience experience front-of-mind.
World Premiere—"Divided Against"
The big headline of the evening was the world premiere of choreographer Peter Chu’s “Divided Against”, with original music by Djeff Houle, that starts after a monologue along the lines of a Buddhist meditation training tape getting you to focus on the divide within one person, one soul.
Like the “Yes, And…” opener, Chu’s work was given great oomph by both lighting design and costumes. (“Yes, And… “ lighting design: Kam Hobbs and costume design Nina G. ; “Divided Against” lighting design by Kevin Dreyer and costume design by Branimira Ivanova).
Giordano Dance- Picture This Post Top Pick
Giordano Dance Company is now 54 years-old, one of the longest running professional dance companies in Chicago. To call what they do “jazz dancing’ at this point seems a bit of a misnomer. When the score is all about rhythm Giordano’s diverse choreography talent shines the most. Put Giordano on any dance lover in Chicago’s short-list of must-sees.
To keep up with the Giordano performance schedule visit their website at http://giordanodance.org/calendar.html
Photos: Gorman Cook Photography