Giordano Dance Chicago Launches New Season with Bold Changes and Deepening Jazz Dance Roots


“Change” is this year’s theme as Giordano Dance Chicago dives into its 61st season, dubbed “Unlimited,” with changes in administration, artists, and board of directors. The company held a cocktail reception to introduce new Executive Director Erica Lynette Edwards, and new Board President Chris D'hondt, at the Whitehall Hotel on September 7th.

Edwards joins the Giordano team replacing Executive Director Michael McStraw, who transitions into the role of mentor to Edwards.

McStraw recounted a heartwarming story that aptly captures Gus Giordano’s legacy. “I started dancing late,” he said, “my freshman year in college, and there, in the dance department office, was a copy of Gus Giordano’s book, ‘Anthology of American Jazz Dance.’” McStraw was enthralled by the pictures and text and knew that he had to learn the Giordano Technique(c).

Edwards joins the Giordano team replacing retiring Managing Director Michael McStraw (above), who transitions into the role of mentor to Edwards and Executive Consultant to the company

After attending GDC’s Jazz Dance Congress he was hooked. His career eventually led him to his job as GDC’s Executive Director, which has been much more than a job. As anyone who has worked with the company can attest, it’s a family. He is quick to characterize it as “a labor of love,” and always, through thick and thin, “we were always happy.”

Erica Lynette Edwards’ first life was as a dancer. The new GDC Executive Director spent fifteen years as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, a position she attained through a “cattle call” audition. Edwards had actually performed with GDC dancers in a “Dance For Life” finale.

The Giordano organization interviewed dozens of candidates for McStraw’s position. “The minute Erica stepped into our office, I knew she was the right person for the job,” Nan said. After retiring from performing in 2014, Edwards spent five years as director of community engagement for The Joffrey Ballet. Her experience in that position inspired her to launch her own company, “Cultivating Better Tomorrows” with multi-tiered DEI programs. In her interview with GDC, Erica presented ideas for innovation and new organizational direction, while at the same time understanding and preserving the essence of what makes GDC unique.

In a typically unrehearsed, off-the-cuff address to the reception’s invited guests, Nan spoke candidly, “Today, the pulse of the organization is ‘Let’s do it differently.’”

“Michael has laid a tremendous foundation.” said new GDC Board Chairman Chris D'hondt. “But it’s time to build something on top of that foundation and I think we have the right leader in Erica.”

Bold, brave, always seeking the next level of excellence, the Giordano organization is on the move. Don't miss the season opener, “Unlimited,” October 27-28 at The Harris Theater.