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Bold Steps — Giordano Dance, Natya Dance primed for new season

Giordano Dance Chicago. 'Exit 4' PICTURED: Maeghan McHale Ortiz Tapi| PHOTO BY GORMAN COOK

Giordano Dance Chicago. "Exit 4" PICTURED: Maeghan McHale and Ortiz Tapia | PHOTO BY GORMAN COOK

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Updated: October 24, 2013 8:12AM



There will be a whole lot of dancing going on in Chicago in the next couple of weeks, with choreographer Bill T. Jones, of “Spring Awakening” and “Fela” fame (at the Dance Center of Columbia College, Oct. 25 and 26); Deeply Rooted’s Generations concert (at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Nov. 1); and Natya Dance Theatre (Nov. 2 at the Harris Theater) in the world premiere of “The Seventh Love,” a story, told through dialogue and dance, that explores the various aspects of love based on Buddhist/Eastern teachings, and uses the ancient classical Indian style of Bharata Natyam. (The piece is a collaboration between Hema Rajagopalan, her daughter, Krithika Rajagopalan, and David Kersnar of the Lookingglass Theater.)

In addition, there is the fall season of Giordano Dance Chicago (Oct. 25 and 26 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance), part of the troupe’s overall 2013-2014 season dubbed “Escape Ordinary.”

The Giordano company may be in its 50th year of existence, but to call it “middle aged” would be a huge mistake. Not only is this ensemble — founded by Gus Giordano, the late jazz dance pioneer, and run by his daughter, Nan Giordano — forever in search of new choreographic talent and fresh work. But its dancers’ emblematic style is often so athletic that you hope there are oxygen machines waiting in the wings.

The Giordano program will include two world premieres: “Exit 4,” a full-company work by the Israeli-born, Philadelphia-based choreographer Roni Koresh, and “Moving Sidewalks,” by Autumn Eckman, Giordano Dance’s assistant artistic director and resident choreographer, to be danced by the eight members of Giordano II.

“I’ve known Nan Giordano and the company for years by way of the annual World Jazz Congress,” said Koresh, who studied the famous Luigi jazz technique as a kid in Israel.

“‘Exit 4’ is a concept, not a narrative description,” the choreographer said, explaining the work’s title. “It’s about the duration of time on stage and leaving the stage. There are four sections in this piece, and by the end of the fourth all the dancers, except for one, makes an exit. The music is a compilation — a mix of the Palestinean Le Trio Joubran, Arabic house music by DJ Nader, and the work of Philadelphia composers Greg Smith and Jonathan Bowles.”

“I wanted to give the Giordano dancers a piece that was longer, more driving and somewhat more confrontational and cynical than they often dance,” said Koresh. “I wanted to give them something with gravity, something a little less joyful in spirit.”

The inspiration for Eckman’s “Moving Sidewalks” (to the music of Pulse Percussion Ensemble), is the vaulted sidewalks of Chicago’s west side neighborhoods, where in the mid-1850s, Chicago had a lot of flooding problems and it was decided the city needed to rebuild and raise itself up by six to 14 feet. Eckman had once owned a house on the west side, and in her basement even found a blocked up front door. Her piece will be more far more evocative of this whole phenomenon than literal.

Also on the program will be Brock Clawson’s intensely athletic “Give and Take”; Liz Imperio’s “La Belleza de Cuba,” a celebration of Latin, Afro-Cuban, jazz and contemporary dance and music; and Kiesha Lalama’s “Alegría” (2011).

Email: hweiss@suntimes.com



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