Jazz Dance Congress Struts into KenCen

By Lewis, Jean Battey | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 30, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Jazz Dance Congress Struts into KenCen

Lewis, Jean Battey, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

"The Kennedy Center approached us about having our Jazz Dance World Congress here over the Fourth of July. They wanted to celebrate with an American art form. Well, you can't get any more American than jazz," Gus Giordano says.

This week Mr. Giordano and the center are co-sponsoring the sixth Jazz Dance World Congress, which is attracting more than 700 members and participants. One hundred dancers, choreographers and directors are due from Japan, where last year's congress was held. Groups are headed here from Guam, Mexico and Germany (which will host the 1997 congress), and from all over the United States.

"The dancing in `West Side Story' was the breakthrough for classic jazz in the '50s," Mr. Giordano declares, "and having the Jazz Dance World Congress perform at the Kennedy Center this year is going to be the breakthrough for jazz dance in the '90s."

Mr. Giordano, the recognized leader in the field of jazz dance and founder of the dance congress, circles the globe giving workshops and master classes in what he calls classic jazz.

"I've been put on this earth as a disciple for jazz," he says. "I've been dancing since I was 5, and I'm 72 now."

The congress will introduce some of the major jazz dance companies from around the world in a program that varies each day. Mr. Giordano's Jazz Dance Chicago will perform daily, and each performance will include four or five other companies, including troupes from Finland, Holland, Puerto Rico and Japan. Among the well-known American groups performing are the American Tap Dance Orchestra and the Peter Pucci Plus Dancers.

* * *

The world congress aims to raise the standards and quality of jazz dance.

"We try to show the classic side of jazz, not what you see on MTV," Mr. Giordano says. "That means you dress like a dancer - you don't wear combat boots. You dress like you were taking a ballet class - only you don't wear pink tights and toes shoes, you wear black jazz pants and jazz shoes."

The dance guru is well aware that his art is a young one.

"Jazz dance became recognized as a major form after Jerome Robbins' `West Side Story.' It took a ballet choreographer of his genius to give it the form and method it needed," Mr. Giordano says.

"And even before Robbins went into jazz there was George Balanchine, who gave jazz dance the personality and reputation it still has today, which is kind of slutty and sexy. He developed that in `Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,' a ballet he did for a Broadway show back in 1936.

"Street jazz is just doing steps, but classic jazz tells a story, like Balanchine and Robbins did."

Mr. Giordano is doing a new work for his group's Kennedy Center appearances, one called "In the Beginning . . . " Because this year not only marks the 25th anniversary of the center and the opening of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass," but was also the year the Beatles disbanded, he's using music by the Beatles and Bernstein.

"There's a definite story line, because we're also using something else from that time: May 4, 1970, was the Kent State massacre, where the four students were killed. That's what the piece is about. It's not just a series of steps."

* * *

Another intriguing premiere is scheduled by the Masashi Action Machine of Japan, with a piece called "Japanese Businessman," which is described as paying tribute to the "battle soldiers of industry.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Jazz Dance Congress Struts into KenCen


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?