I can’t think of enough adjectives/adverbs to describe Catch the Light, the exhilarating 60th anniversary performance by Giordano Dance Chicago. I think exuberant, stylish, graceful, athletic, exciting, stunning, incredible and energetic are good choices too. Really, I was in awe of the speed and athleticism on display. The Giordano dancers are so strong, so talented, so creative, they absolutely blew me away! I gave them 4 BIG Spotlights.
The celebration began, appropriately with comments by Nan Giordano, GDC Artistic Director and daughter of founder, Gus Giordano, Michael McStraw, GDC Executive Director, Joshua Blake Carter, GDC Operations Manager/Director, Giordano II and Cesar G. Salinas, Associate Artistic Director, honoring those who have helped make Giordano the force it is today.
Giordano Moves, choreographed by Gus Giordano in 2005, reconstructed Nan Giordano and Cesar G. Salinas in 2022 to an original jazz score by George McRae.
Giordano Moves opened with notes from a solo saxophone. A single spotlight revealed Adam Houston matching the notes with movement. As additional instruments were highlighted, additional dancers appeared then disappeared as the lighting changed.
Dancers: Brittany Brown, Joseph Cyranski, Ashley Downs, Ryan Galloway, Amanda Hickey, Adam Houston, Emma Kempson, Sasha Lazarus, Zachary Morris, Skyler Newcom, Katie Rafferty, Fernando Rodriguez and Eduardo Zambrana.
commonthread, choreographed by Autumn Eckman in 2009 to an original music score by Dan Myers and John Ovnik.
Wearing funky angle-cut skirts, Ashley Downs, Amanda Hickey, Skylar Newcom and Katie Rafferty surround Adam Houston in ever changing formations. I zoned out about halfway through commonthread, which I feel didn’t quite fit into evening’s vibe.
Impulse was choreographed by Tony Powell in 2009 to music by Thom Willems, Ethos Percussion Group, Carlos Stasi, Kodo Drummers of Japan
Although I’m not usually a fan of continuous drumming, it was perfect for this piece which had me spellbound throughout. Impulse is constant fast-paced motion with dancers almost flying across the stage in relatively tight formations. Nan Zabriskie’s brilliant minimalist costume design allows the audience to actually watch muscles at work.
Dancers in Impulse: Brittany Brown, Ashley Downs, Ryan Galloway, Amanda Hickey, Adam Houston, Skyler Newcom, Katie Rafferty, Fernando Rodriguez
GDC Dancers in Impulse by Tony Powel. Photo by Gorman Cook
Groove, in formed was choreographed by Peter Chu, assisted by Jenni Gordon, in 2019 to original music by Jake Kelberman.
Groove, in formed celebrates individuality which choreographer Peter Chu says is a crucial component in jazz dance and being ‘in the groove’. Smooth syncopation, bits of fad dances from the past and even Giordano exercises connect the dancers with the rhythms of joy.
Dancers: Joseph Cyranski, Ashley Downs, Ryan Galloway, Amanda Hickey, Adam Houston, Skyler Newcom, Katie Rafferty, Fernando Rodriguez and Eduardo Zambrana.
World premiere, lub-dub, choreographed by Cesar G. Salinas to music by Travis Lake and Medwyn Goodall
Sometimes I think male dancers get short shrift, but recently some choreographers are giving them an opportunity to shine. Salinas does that with lub-dub, in which four male dancers, Ryan Galloway, Rosario Guillen, Fernando Rodrigues and Eduardo Zambrana, express the rhythms of the human heartbeat in a piece that is nearly perfect.
Clockwise from UL GDC's Rosario Guillen, Eduardo Zambrana, Fernando Rodriguez and Ryan Galloway
Soul was choreographed in 2918 by Ray Leeper, to the soul music of Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green and Tina Turner
Wearing black over black, the company demonstrated that jazz dance and the rhythm and blues music of Gladys Knight and the Pips are made for each other. Adding a splash of bright blue and some really smooth moves, they grooved to the sweet soul of Al Green. Finally, with the volume turned way up for the driving beat of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary and the ladies in blue sequined dresses, everyone had fun! While the company was expressing joy and celebration, everyone in the audience were dancing in their seats. When the dancers left the stage to dance in the aisles, most people were on their feet dancing along. What a fun way to end the night!
Dancers: Brittany Brown, Ashley Downs, Ryan Galloway, Rosario Guillen, Amanda Hickey, Adam Houston, Sasha Lazarus, Skyler Newcom, Katie Rafferty, Fernando Rodriguez
The Giordano Dance Chicago company members are: Brittany Brown, Joseph Cyranski, Ashley Downs, Ryan Galloway, Rosario Guillen, Amanda Hickey, Adam Houston, Emma Kempson, Sasha Lazarus, Zachary Morris, Skyler Newcom, Onjélee Phomthirath, Katie Rafferty, Fernando Rodriguez, Erina Ueda and Eduardo Zambrana. Onjélee Phomthirath and Erina Ueda did not perform.