I didn’t know anything about Giordano Dance Chicago when I went to their fall engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. I wasn’t all that familiar with jazz dance, either. The Giordano dancers are so strong, so talented, so creative, they absolutely blew me away! I gave them 4 BIG Spotlights.
Of the six works they performed, all but one was drawn from their repertoire. The single exception, the premiere of “Divided Against” choreographed by Peter Chu. “Divided Against” conveyed the idea of a primitive society to me, except that the women, who were wearing backless black jumpsuits, seemed to be dominant, the men, who wore long black, dress-like tunics, subservient. The company danced in different combinations – solos, duets, trios, and so on. My favorite was a longish interlude with one woman surrounded by five men. After many of the combinations, two dancers often picked up another and carried him/her off stage.
The program led off with “Yes, And…” a sexy, fast-paced contemporary jazz dance. The dancers all wore black trunks and black knee high stockings, with flesh colored tanks for the women. Inspired by theatrical improv exercises, this dance, done to an all percussion score, was full of surprises.
My favorite work was “Hi Jinks”, a funky tribute to the comedy and variety talents of the ‘60s. The four dancers, Katie Rafferty & Joshua Blake Carter, Maeghan McHale & Zachary Heller, all wore bright orange and yellow palazzo pants. In one number, they pulled the pants up over their arms making them look like oversized orange and yellow dancing smurfs.
“Shirt Off My Back”, which explores relationships, is a very balletic number featuring Devin Buchanan & Natasha Overturff Denny in a sexy, romantic pas de deux.
In Latin, the word “Cesura” means a brief pause or interruption. The work begins with a man and a woman spotlighted in a sexy pose. Then the stage goes dark, the spotlight flashes back on – and they’re in a new pose – repeat – repeat. Zachary Heller and Katie Rafferty are hot, hot, hot! He advances, she retreats, she advances, he retreats in a very sexy mating dance.
The final work, “Alegria” incorporates elements of jazz, modern, contemporary and ballet as the entire company expresses their joy through dance.
Giordano Dance Chicago company members are: Rachael Berube, Devin Buchanan, Joshua Blake Carter, Natasha Overturff Denny, Ashley Downs, Zachary Heller, Adam Houston, Maeghan McHale, Katie Rafferty. Senior Performing Associates are: Ryan Gallloway and Linnea Stureson. Junior Performing Associates are: Jacob Frazier and Arielle Israel. Also performing: Mariterese Altosino, Joseph Nicastro and Nathan Rommel.