Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago

October 23, 2009

Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago
October 23–24, 2009

The Harris Theater

Chicago, IL

Reviewed by Lynn Colburn Shapiro         


Cesar Salinas and Meredith Schultz in Brock Clawson’s
Give and Take. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy GJDC.

Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago sparkles with vibrant energy, commanding an eclectic repertory with authority and personality. Under Nan Giordano’s direction, the 10-member ensemble shows precision, musicality, and technical nuance, especially in upper-body articulations and elevation. Of note this season is their increasingly fine-tuned group work. Listening and responding to one another, they drew the audience into the essence of each piece.


This was especially apparent in Jon Lehrer’s A Ritual Dynamic (2007), where the company now achieves the thrilling split-second attack and seamless floor-to-air transitions the work demands.

Former GJDC dancer Autumn Eckman’s premiere, commonthread, is a lyrical quintet for three men and two women that creates an undulating, lateral world of space and sound with Dan Myers’ and John Ovnik’s original score. Maeghan McHale’s richly sustained line and exquisite musicality paired perfectly with Myers’ electric violin, performed onstage.

Ensemble strength carried over in Tony Powell’s Rapture (2001), set to Steve Reich’s rapturous dissonance of clarinets. This jazzy romp starts out with five couples playing on variations of runners starting a race. McHale and Zachary Heller showcase the sheer joy of dancing in a high-octane duet that builds to a fever-pitch, full-company finish.

Give and Take
(2009) is Brock Clawson’s choreographic essay on the competition, mutual dependence, and opposition of couples. A motif of clasping hands, alternately pulling toward and away from each other, unifies this exploration of need and gender conflict.

Company member Lindsey Leduc Brenner’s premiere, Gravity, sumptuously performed October 23 by Craig Kaufman and Meredith Schultz, offers the portrait of a relationship based on release and submission. Schultz floats toward and sinks away from Kaufman’s embrace, suggesting her compelling yet conflicted needs; Kaufman counters with easy-going appreciation and willingness to support her.

The concert finale, Rennie Harris’ premiere, I Want You, brought laughter and cheers in the most theatrical work on the program. Full of attitude and street smarts, the piece transforms the Giordano troupe into its own special version of “the ‘hood.”  The women, sassy in black hot pants, white T’s, suspenders, and black patent jazz shoes, lit into Harris’ hip hop energy as if they’d been born to it. Harris’s signature break dance moves capitalized on the strength of GJDC’s male dancers. Dressed in white T-shirts, baggy black pants, vests, and caps, they had plenty of opportunity to show off their technical chops and sense of fun. Social conventions played out with humor in snappy movement that sizzled with originality.