By Holm, Jenny
Dance Magazine , Vol. 80, No. 10
Few names are more synonymous with jazz dance than that of Gus Giordano, the passionate pioneer who has spent over 50 years showing America--and the rest of the world--what it means to build an art form from the ground up. To honor his contributions to the dance world and bring together those who have been touched by his work and spirit, the folks at the Giordano Dance Center have organized--what else?--a weekend-long jazz extravaganza.
The event, "Celebration of a Legacy," will take place October 27-29 at the school's studio in Evanston, IL, and at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago's Millennium Park. "My dad has impacted so many thousands of lives in such an amazing, positive way," says Nan Giordano, the famed jazzman's daughter and artistic director of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago (GJDC) since 1993, "so there's a lot to celebrate."
The studio Giordano opened in a former bowling alley in 1953 has become a major center of dance, offering modern, ballet, hip hop, tap, and ballroom as well as jazz. Giordano's company, which grew out of the school in 1962, was the first in the world to devote itself entirely to jazz dance. With it, he aimed to increase appreciation of jazz as a uniquely American style. Giordano's 1975 book, the Anthology of American Jazz Dance, traces the history and development of the form and codifies the technique that bears his name. "It's very soulful, powerful movement," describes Nan Giordano. "The impetus comes from the pelvis area, and the style is raw and clean." Because Giordano technique stresses purity of movement over highly stylized tricks and gestures, dancers trained in it can easily adapt to a variety of styles.
Another of Giordano's innovations, the Jazz Dance World Congress, has been bringing students, teachers, choreographers, and companies together every year since 1990 for a jam-packed week of classes, workshops, and performances. …