By Emily Blazer
On June 11th at the Auditorium Theater, Giordano Dance Chicago continued their tradition of pushing the boundaries of jazz and contemporary dance. A one night only performance containing six works that all debuted in the 21st century wrapped up the MADE IN CHICAGO DANCE SERIES 2021-2022. Sitting at the edge of my seat, I was as captivated by each performer as I was by the entire program.
Brimming with energy and force, Giordano Dance Chicago demonstrated the alignment of impeccable technique and raw emotion kicking off the evening with EXit. Choreographer Ronan Koresh drew from a lifetime of international experience with influence from club dancing to the Israeli military. In minimalist costumes, the ensemble demonstrated impeccable agility moving in perfect synchronicity, as the repetitive movements took them upstage and downstage. As the emotion of the piece reached a fever pitch, dancers were granted with an opportunity they rarely get: using their voice. Koresh leans into using vocals as exclamation points scattered throughout.
Starkly contrasting EXit, Adam Houston’s pas de deux All For You captivated the audience with its effortless and seamless transitions. As a couple navigating the terrain of their relationship, Ashley Downs and Skyler Newcom moved as one, gently but tightly pushing and pulling each other perfectly painting their mutual love. As the piece progressed, we saw the darker parts of their relationship discovered and reactions received, leaving us reflecting on our own relationships.
Originally choreographed for eight men, Joshua Blake Carters Take a Gambol was reworked for the entire company in 2021. The classic form of American jazz dance was immaculately expressed in this fast paced, up beat, 60’s style piece. The audience was taken on a technically impressive journey enhanced by fake cigarettes, long legs and black blazers, dedicated to the legacy of Giordano Dance Chicago. The ensemble work blew me away and left me hungry for more.
Opening the second act, Shirt Off My Back eased the audience back in with undulating torsos and indistinct whispers. Choreographer Ray Mercer captured the strength of the ensemble with energetic partnering and solos without losing any detail. Further showing off their skill, dancers quickly removed and exchanged their shirts moving across the stage not interrupting their choreography at all.
Retroverse by choreographer Autumn Eckman, asked the audience “What if we could pause time to reexamine our past and remind ourselves of the essential power of human-to-human interaction?” All in white, the dancers moved like falling petals gently across the stage, pausing and moving on together. Retroverse debuted in April and made me reflect on the beauty of the simple, human interactions we are all able to experience again.
Closing out the evening, the audience was lucky enough to see the final performance of Pyrokinesis, one of the most popular and highly acclaimed pieces in the Giordano repertoire. Choreographer Christopher Huggins created a crowd pleasing and engaging work putting a smiles on everyone’s faces. Filled with electricity and skill, the entire company showcased their unique talents in a whirlwind of jaw dropping jumps and turns. Pyrokinesis means “fire-motion” which I could see and feel in every last 8-count.