Catch The Light review-Giordano Dance Chicago

Clockwise from UL Gus Giordano Dance Chicago's Rosario Guillen, Eduardo Zambrana, Fernando Rodriguez and Ryan Galloway in lub-dub by Cesar Salinas. Photo by Gorman Cook
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On October 21 and 22, 2022, Giordano Dance Chicago presented its 60th anniversary program, a celebratory engagement at The Harris Theatre For Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, Chicago.

5 pieces from the repertoire, the opening number, “Giordano Moves”, 2005 by Gus Giordano and “Impulse”, 2006, by Tony Powell reworked this year, and a world premiere by Cesar G. Salinas,lubdub”, showcased the muscular exultant beauty of the 16 company dancers. 

Pictured Nan Giordano and Cesar G. Salinas. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

The introductory remarks by Artistic Director Nan Giordano (flanked by colleagues) gave appropriate kudos and thanks and harked back to the vision of her father, Company Founder Gus Gordano. She noted that he made certain his dancers-originally five in number-were well founded in all the basic dance fundamentals. The energetic and delightful program bore this out.

The first piece on the program, “Gordano Moves” was splashed across a deep blood-red background by Kevin Dreyer. Elegant black leotards designed by Nina G. revealed the full company in confident configurations. With original music by George McCrae in a collaborative jazz score, restructured and staged by Nan GIordano and Cesar G. Salinas, the piece was ageless, classically bound yet contained movement from the half century-plus of the Founders works.

Fernando Rodriguez and Katie Rafferty, Photo by Todd Rosenberg

common thread” 20O9 was choreographed by Autumn Eckman to original music by Dan Myers and John Ovnik. It seemed that we were listening to Celtic screeling as 5 dancers in costumes by Branimira Ivanova (set as above against a red backdrop) appeared as double-jointed woodland sprites.

The last piece before the intermission, “Impulse” 20O6 by Tony Powell, reconstructed by Cesar G. Salinas was beat driven to music edited and arranged by Tony Powell, heavily percussion based. Cleverly naked-look costumes designed by Nan Zabriskie and constructed by Nathan Rohrer added to the cohesive sensibility.  A 10-dancer piece, it was said to reflect a driving force which acted briefly on a body yet produces infinite changes of momentum. Here the Giordano dancers seemed  like a many-headed hydra, moving singly, in pairs, and together as a team.

Gus Giordano Dance Chicago Dancers in Impulse by Tony Powel. Photo by Gorman Cook

After the intermission, “Groovein formed”, 2019, by Peter Chu assisted by Jenny Gordon, to an original score by Jake Kelberman, primarily organ, bass and percussion, with lighting by Jacob Snodgrass and costumes by Nathan Rohrer, was a nine-member piece with the dancers clad in sepia-toned modified athletic wear. This enthralling work can be seen as a modern creation myth, displaying everything from single dancers evolving to body part puppetry and in-sync micro-strutting. In the mix of multiple rhythms, each separate dancer could be seen as the whole was also displayed in taut connection. 

The world premiere of of “lub dub‘ by multi-talented Salinas, with music by Travis Lake and Medwyn Goodall, lit by Jacob Snodgrass revealed four male dancers at the height of their powers in orange sleeveless tunics by Jordan Ross. Here we saw a breathtaking scene of deathless body prose as the four super athletes, impossibly graceful, embodied rhythms of the heart. 

L-R Ashley Downs and Adam Houston. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

The finale, “Soul”, 2018 by Ray Leeper assisted by Kristen Gorski Wergeles, to the racking rock sounds of music by Gladys KnightAl Green and Tina Turner, lit by Jacob Snodgrass has become a signature piece for the company. Exultant, grinning big with be-bop ponytails and the super high energy for which this group is known, the company disported with a rhythm sense that is unbeatable. Running out into the audience, Giordano ‘s world-class performers danced with members of the packed house until the curtain came down and rose again on multiple standing ovations.

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