Jazz Dance Celebration

Article excerpt

A lot of Downtown will move differently this week as the Jazz Dance World Festival comes to town.

Giordano Dance Chicago, formerly Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, is kicking off its 50th anniversary season in Pittsburgh by presenting the festival in association with Point Park University.

"It will be a gathering of energy and of collaborations, as well as training for young dancers who can come in and be touched by many different styles, not pigeon-holed," says Nan Giordano, artistic director of the company. "At night, we have shows, open to the public, featuring five or six companies a night from all over the world. There is definitely something in there for everyone as we showcase the depth and diversity of what we feel jazz dance is."

The Jazz Dance World Festival will present 10 dance companies in four programs Wednesday through Saturday at the Byham Theater, Downtown.

Performing ensembles include Cuerpo Etereo Danza Contemporanea, Mexico; Masashi Action Machine, Japan; Odyssey Dance Theatre, Salt Lake City; Philadanco! and Koresh Dance Company, Philadelphia; Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, and Giordano Dance Chicago and the Conservatory Dance Company of Point Park University.

The festival is having an International Choreography Competition at the Byham Theater at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Ticket holders to the evening performance are welcome to attend the competition. The winner will receive $2,500 and the opportunity to perform beside professional ensembles at Saturday evening's concert.

Educational activities will take place Wednesday through Sunday at Point Park University, with some spillover to the August Wilson Center.

"Jazz is not new to Point Park. We have had a strong jazz program for many, many years and have several graduates who are members of Giordano Dance Company," says Susan Stowe, chair of dance at Point Park. "Nan has always admired our dancers and program, so it was natural to collaborate with them. Our new facilities can host hundreds of participants."

Point Park opened its dedicated dance facility along the Boulevard of the Allies in 2008.

The Giordano company grew out of a request from Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet while on tour in Chicago to see some jazz dance. Gus Giordano, already a distinguished teacher of jazz dance, was asked to put together a show for the Russian dancers.

"The Giordano technique is a distinct technique that my father established and wrote a book about," says Giordano, who took over as artistic director of the company in 1993. "Two-thirds of the tutorial positions in his 'Anthology of Jazz Dance' he came up with. He also came up with his own dance notation and established that. …