Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
DANCE REVIEW: By Jordan Reinwald
June 11, 2016 - Finishing off its “Made In Chicago” series, The Auditorium Theatre presented Giordano Dance Chicago on Saturday in a one night only event. Also closing Giordano’s performing season, the program presented works spanning several decades, each piece giving the Auditorium Theatre audience a new thrill as live singing in some pieces, or vibrant costumes in others, carried the evening through disparate moods.
Crossing/Lines, a 2015 work by Ronen Koresh, started the program with seven movements danced by the main company. Small quick bourees of the feet, tight head bobs and the occasional vocalization by the group bore resemblance to the signature style of Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company, but the Giordano performers made it quite their own with slinky sexiness that was a through-line for the night.
Can’t Take This Away, choreographed by Randy Duncan, is a powerhouse, feel-good piece, and it left the packed house screaming for more. Live singing by The Bournes—a family music group including five sisters, three brothers, and their mother—brought an exciting change to Giordano’s smooth classic jazz feel. The voices began in darkness, allowing audience members to focus only on the message of the song for the large opening of the piece. When dancers entered the stage and lights rose, joy erupted from their faces, the voices of the singers, and the whooping audience. Dancer Devin Buchan’s tall stature and commanding stage presence mesmerized as he reached to the sky, exalted by the notes from the a capella Bournes. Revolving circular patterns, skyward focused dancing by the main company and the second company, and a finale with dancers infused their audience with a palpable energy made for quite an exhilarating experience.
More subdued in mood, but amped up in sex appeal, Feelin’ Good Sweet, an old crowd favorite from 2014 graced the stage after intermission. Choreographer Ray Leeper chose Giordano leading lady Meaghan McHale to carry the sizzling and sassy dance. The familiar tune, “Feelin’ Good” floated blithely among other sounds while men crawled on the floor, seemingly under the spell of the women in the company and their commandeering sex appeal.
Sneaky Pete, made this year by Brock Clawson, was the most subdued dance of the evening and might have been served better in the first half of the performance as its mood is so much darker than the uplifting Can’t Take This Away from earlier in the program. Nevertheless, the work itself stands out as the most stylistically unique among the other, more familiar dance vernacular in the compliment of the program.
Gus Giordano’s own Sing, Sing, Sing served as an apt finale. An even-paced work, Sing, Sing, Sing harkens back a bit to the golden age of modern dance, and as a closing statement in a diverse program—and an homage to the late, great Giordano—it fit emotionally here at the end of this exuberant program, reminding everyone just why Giordano Dance Chicago is such a beloved Chicago staple.
Giordano Dance Chicago's Martin Ortiz Tapia and Maeghan McHale in Sneaky Pete (photo by Love, Louise Photography