When you think of Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC), you think: passion, intensity, emotion, power, energy, and unflinching positivity. Not bad for a 56-year-old company. Led by their indefatigable artistic director Nan Giordano, the 10-dancers troupe always delivers strong performances that takes audiences on a journey, leaving joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces.
GDC's spring program will be presented in two performances Friday and Saturday at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. “This program is an extra special stringing of pieces,” Giordano said in a phone interview.
The centerpiece of the upcoming performance run is a world premiere by LA-based, award-winning choreographer Marinda Davis. Davis's work has been seen on NBC’s “World of Dance" and ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” and her personal story was featured on CW’s docuseries “My Last Days.” Diagnosed between the ages 28 and 31 with eight autoimmune diseases, Davis, now 35, had to learn to live in the moment. “I’m a type A. I had a five-year plan, but that went out the window,” she said over the phone last week. “I have to stay present. Not to be morbid, but everything could be the ‘last.’ I try to live my life hour-to-hour. You have to focus on the gratitude.”
It is her personal narrative that drives Davis's movement vocabulary. Pulling, climbing, struggling, trust falls, relying on each other for strength, helping each other back up. It’s visceral and human: the perfect match for GDC. Slated to open the second act, so the audience has a “clean palette,” Davis’s “Flickers” is about hanging on to the flickers of hope that your dreams will come true at the right time if you are ready and putting in the work. She assisted the late Gus Giordano on the convention circuit when she was younger, but only just met his daughter Nan. A good friend of GDC dancer Zachary Heller, Davis came to watch rehearsal in Chicago and she and Nan Giordano just clicked. “This is a full circle moment for me,” Davis said. “We’re a voice of positivity and we wanted to be a voice for her too,” said Giordano. “The experience was spiritual, very organic, and truly like no other. The dancers are really embracing the moment.” Davis said the creative process was very emotional (“there were tears every day”), but never negative. “The dancers attacked it, soaked it in, and put their own narrative and stories to it. It is all about light,” said Davis.
Even with such a momentous program, there are some bittersweet undertones. Dancers Maeghan McHale and Devin Buchanan – who have been with the Giordano organization for 14 and nine years, respectively – will be taking their final bows with the company. “Maeghan is retiring at the top of her game. She’s a beast, so consistent. She gives every centimeter of her body. She’s truly unique,” Giordano said. “And Devin is such a strong, strong force. It’s been beautiful to watch his development and growth over the years. He’s an audience favorite and we are proud to be celebrating both wonderful artists. They will always be a part of the Giordano family.” McHale and Buchanan will be featured in GDC alum Autumn Eckman’s 2011 duet “Alloy.” Another Eckman work, “Commonthread,” will be performed on the program with live accompaniment of Dan Myers's South Asia-inspired score. Rounding out the program are familiar high-energy works: “Prey” from Ron De Jesus, “Sneaky Pete” by Brock Clawson, and Ray Leeper’s “SOUL.” There will also be a photo gallery in the Harris Theater lobby featuring behind-the-scenes images by Beth Ann Anderson from the creative process of “Flickers.”
Giordano Dance Chicago's "Live In the Momentum" runs March 22-23 at the Harris Theater 205 E. Randolph St. Tickets start at $15, with Hot Deals available through See Chicago Dance. For more information, visit www.giordanodance.org or click the event page below.