Phoenix Hosts Jazz Dance Congress

Article excerpt

PHOENIX--The 1998 Jazz Dance World Congress, presented by Gus Giordano and Southwest Dance, convenes at the Phoenix Civic Plaza August 7 though 11. This year's premier jazz event, the seventh congress since its founding, features five days of classes, panel discussions, performances by internationally recognized professional jazz dance companies, an indoor street dance festival, and the annual Leo's Jazz Dance Choreography Competitive Event.

"We're excited about bringing the congress to the western U.S. for the first time," says artistic director Nan Giordano. "It has increased registration from that area. We are also presenting several dance companies from the West that will be new to many of our registrants."

In the air-conditioned Civic Plaza, registrants take class from legendary founders of their styles: Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchett, Joe Tremaine, Patsy Swayze, and Judi Sheppard Missett. The next generation of master jazz instructors and choreographers is also on the faculty, including Nan Giordano, Pattie Obey, Randy Duncan, and Judith Scott, who starts four days with her special warm-up, stretch, and strengthening classes. In the final class, called Jazz Jamm, participants sample the evolution of jazz dance as faculty members present their own styles in successive twenty-minute sessions.

To address the issue of age-appropriate dancing of preadolescent children, the congress is sponsoring a special Kids Jazz Dance section for dance students ten to twelve years old for the first time this year. (Minimum age for attending the congress is thirteen.) This core program, taught by Kevin Bender, Michael Williams, and members of the master faculty, emphasizes clean technique and choreography in nine one-hour classes in jazz appropriate for children. …