Giordano Dance Chicago @ Auditorium Theatre

3 out of 4 stars

Closing out the Auditorium Theatre’s 2016-2017 season as well as their own 54th season, Giordano Dance Chicago brought an electric evening of dynamic dance to its audience.  The evening’s performance was Giordano Dance Chicago’s third appearance in the Auditorium Theatre’s “Made in Chicago” Dance Series.  As one of Chicago’s most beloved and acclaimed dance companies, GDC is surely going to remain a staple in the Chicago arts scene for many years to come.


This particular performance by Giordano Dance Chicago commemorated two major events for two of their company members.  While the evening celebrated Maeghan McHale’s 10th anniversary with GDC, it also featured Joshua Blake Carter’s last performance as a main company member.  Carter has been with GDC for 7 years and currently serves as the director of Giordano’s second company, Giordano II.  He is now going to transition into the company’s administrative staff to continue his journey with Giordano Dance Chicago.  The evening’s performance also featured Carter’s phenomenal world premiere piece Before my Eyes.  


McHale’s talent and her dedication to Giordano Dance Chicago shine through her remarkable performances and vivacious energy.  After watching her in the evening’s opening piece (choreographed by Liz Imperio), Lost in This World, it is easy to see why she has been an integral part of GDC for ten years.  Not only is her immense talent evident through her performance, but so is her obvious passion for the career path she has chosen.  Imperio has created a wonderful piece to showcase McHale in, thus leaving the audience with no reason to question why her talent and career are being celebrated.  


The unique nature of Giordano Dance Chicago’s repertoire was particularly evident throughout the evening’s performance as the company delved into one innovative piece after another.  Though GDC is known as a jazz dance company, they strive to redefine what “jazz” actually entails.  From incorporating a hit song by Ed Sheerhan to bringing intensely emotional, highly stylized movements to the stage, GDC altered what I had always viewed as “jazz.”  Their ability to transition between wildly different music and movement styles, all while remaining true to their core jazz philosophy is truly remarkable.  It is not every day that one is exposed to dancers who are able to excel at almost every style of dance, and for this reason alone, Giordano Dance Chicago deserves to be commended.  


Choreographer Autumn Eckman’s piece commonthread was one of the strongest pieces of the night, with its emotional intensity and heartfelt passion filling the stage.  Kam Hobbs’ lighting design coupled with the music of Dan Myers and John Ovnik set the perfect tone and atmosphere for the performance, creating a wonderful realm for the dancers to express themselves within.  Branimira Ivanova’s dynamic and unique costume design was the perfect finishing touch on a phenomenal piece. 


Another particularly brilliant piece from the evening’s performance was the company’s final piece, A Ritual Dynamic, which was choreographed by Jon Lehrer.  The piece originated in 2008 but was restaged to include 16 dancers for 2017.  The company’s electric energy filled the stage and showcased even further their strength, passion, and distinctive style of dance.  Frank Chaves Grusin Suite and Ronen Koresh’s EXit4 were also quite outstanding, with each having their own vastly different take on the jazz style.  


With such impressive choreographers and an extremely talented ensemble, it is easy to see why Giordano Dance Chicago has become such an invaluable part of the dance community as a whole.  As their 54th season comes to a close, I look forward to the diverse and innovative work they will inspire their audiences with for many years to come.


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Rebecca Curl is a freelance wig and make-up artisan and writer based in Chicago.  She recently received her BFA in Wig and Make-up Design and an English Minor from The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.  Follow her on Twitter!