Review: Revivals rule in Giordano Dance Chicago’s spring series
Lauren Warnecke on April 1, 2017
Friday and Saturday at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Giordano Dance Chicago’s spring series displays a wide range of possibilities in American jazz dance. While some of the newer works show off this 54-year-old company’s capacity for currency, classical jazz dance reigns supreme on this program.
Created in 1993 as part of GDC’s annual Jazz Dance World Congress, former River North Dance Chicago artistic director Frank Chaves’ “Grusin Suite” is a primer on Chicago-style jazz dance, although Chaves’ isolations, touch turns, high kicks and hip circles are distinct from the method established by this company’s founder, Gus Giordano. The differences between Giordano jazz and River North jazz are
Even so, Gio’s dancers handle the piece better than could anyone else, particularly in the second section’s jovial trio highlighting leading men Devin Buchanan, Zachary Heller and Adam Houston, and some exceptional full-company
Audience favorite “The Man that Got Away” (1990), another RNDC endowment gifted by
Two premieres from last season, Peter Chu’s “Divided Against” and Brock Clawson’s “Sneaky Pete,” contrast the razzmatazz of the RNDC rep and another revival: a dynamic, full-company restaging of Jon Lehrer’s 2008 “A Ritual Dynamic.” Last year’s newbies are improved with a bit of age, though Clawson’s “Sneaky Pete” is this program’s best representation of Giordano today. The film noir-inspired mini-narrative highlights dancer Zachary Heller as a man hiding in plain sight, until a lady in red (Maeghan McHale) discovers him. In the final chase scene, McHale and Heller full-on sprint from wing to wing, weaving in and out of Clawson’s tight contemporary phrase work among the swirl of Ivanova’s gorgeous A-line dresses.
Chu’s “Divided Against” suffers from its placement, following the bright and happy “Grusin Suite,” and is riddled with missed opportunities. What should be a steady build falls flat as the mood onstage fails to change leading up toward a climax dictated only by
Closing the program is “Lost in this World,” Liz Imperio’s melodrama about a man and a woman who meet in a nightclub and are ripped apart by an alien invasion … or at least I think that’s what it was about. Imperio has an impressive resume as a Los Angeles-based choreographer to the stars. Her commercial hip-hop aesthetic likely reads better on television, with the support of close-up camera shots and J-Lo standing at center-center. But an exposed upstage wall, costume changes galore and all sorts of special effects couldn’t save “Lost in this World” from looking (and feeling) 2-D.