Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago

It’s ironic that an internationally known company with a five-and-a-half-week tour of Europe starting later this month should be seeking a higher profile in its hometown, but so it is. Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago (now headed by Gus’s daughter Nan Giordano) was founded in 1962; it was the first jazz troupe to tour the Soviet Union twelve years later. In recent years it’s begun to reinvent the soul of jazz dance, allowing greater softness and feeling. That’s obvious from the new work scheduled for these performances, Randy Duncan’s Can’t Take This Away: set to gospel music both moving and funky, its offertory is lifted arms and chests, its confession is a sinking into the floor, and its joy is twitched skirts and feet. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kirby Reed’s new section for the company standby Chain of Rocks–as urban and raw as a grinding engine, with lots of high-energy posing tinged with irony. Billy Siegenfeld’s good-natured, nostalgic Getting There will also be seen on each program, as will Gus Giordano’s Sing, Sing, Sing (and, on Saturday, his More Than a Machine). Scattered among these three performances are several other mellow pieces: Michael Taylor’s elegant, thoughtful Just Because, Margo Sappington’s Weewis, and James Kelly’s humorous Ten Cents a Dance. Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 8, and Sunday at 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $15-$20 ($5 for kids 12 and under on Sunday). Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 847-866-6779 for information on the $50 Friday night benefit, which honors critic Ann Barzel. –Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Mike Canale.