Giordano Dance Chicago company dancer Adam Houston said his experience with Giordano has been life-changing.
“You could be a dancer involved with it, you could be a board member involved with it, you could be a dance enthusiast coming to our shows, and it’s truly a life-changing experience once you feel that energy and that soulfulness of the company, it’s really a beautiful thing,” he said.
Students, professors, and members of the community gathered in Markel Auditorium for this life-changing experience on Sept. 14, at a performance from Giordano Dance Chicago hosted by the dance department.
GDC has two companies, both led by artistic director Nan Giordano.
“We’ve got a great show,” Giordano said. “I’m impressed by how the small community embraces dance.”
The main company, which consists of 10 members, performed six works and left the audience feeling awestruck.
Houston has been with the organization for seven years and said he loves performing with Giordano because of its diverse repertoire.
“We start with ‘EXit4,’ which is a very intense piece, a little more angsty,” Houston said. “And then it goes into ‘Commonthread,’ which is very joyful, about unity and connection. And then it goes into ‘Sabroso,’ which is just fun, and it’s snappy.”
“EXit4,” choreographed by an Israeli-born artistic director, seeks to convey the tension felt by Israeli citizens who are all required to serve for four years in the Israeli Defense Forces as young adults. Throughout “EXit4,” the dancers expressed defiance, pain, and enthusiasm. Harsh, red stage lighting highlighted their passion as they danced, shouted, and clapped.
Holly Hobbs, a visiting assistant professor of dance and the director of the Tower Dancers, said Giordano’s style of dance is dynamic.
“There’s a wide range of musical styles, a very expressive use of the body; it’s very physical,” Hobbs said.
After an intense opening work, the company moved into “Commonthread,” which offered the audience a sense of joyfulness and warmth. The green lighting and whimsical costumes expressed revitalization and youthfulness as the dancers leaped and spun across the stage.
The company closed the first half with “Sabroso,” a ballroom dance reminiscent of the 1940s complete with disco balls hanging above the stage.
“This is the first time the company has done ‘Sabroso’ in four years,” Houston said. “It’s what Nan likes to refer to as ‘on the shelf,’ where we put pieces away for a little bit then bring them back.”
Giordano Dance opened the second half with its emotional work, “Flickers.” Senior Tower dancer Jenna Wiita sat in on a masterclass with Nan Giordano prior to the company’s performance. She explained that “Flicker” was choreographed by Marinda Davis, who has eight autoimmune diseases.
“She’s not necessarily going to live much longer,” Wiita said. “And the dance is about finding light in dark places. It was so beautiful.”
The stage was dimly lit at the beginning and end of the work with small bulbs hanging from the ceiling, emphasizing Davis’ theme. The company wore white and demonstrated its physical strength through remarkable lifts with soloist Jacob Frazier. Throughout the work, Frazier took the audience on a journey of self-reflection. His movements and facial expressions showed joy, fear, pain, anger, and hope.
Giordano Dance ended the night with a lively performance of “SOUL.” With their snapping, clapping, and sparkling dress, the dancers moved across the stage and into the audience to get everyone in the auditorium on their feet.
The company rehearses from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday every week and performs various shows on the weekends. But Houston said he enjoys it, because he loves to perform.
“Today’s world is so consumed by negativity, there’s a lot of conflict out there,” Houston said. “And when you come to our shows, you get submerged into a world that’s not like anything else in this world. What I love giving to the audience and them walking away with is a sense of feeling. It could be sadness, happiness, joyfulness, it could be a feeling they might not have felt in a very long time, and it brings an emotion out in them.”
Wiita said she was most impressed by the company’s intentionality with their movements.
“Every little thing they do is so choreographed,” Wiita said. “They feel so human on stage, and I’m trying to pinpoint how they do it. Part of it is that they acknowledge one another in a very human way. They’re looking at one another as they dance.”