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Electrifying Giordano Dance

Friday, October 31, 2014 tgoandco

Giordano Dance took to the stage Saturday to kick off their 52nd year. Known for electric and highly-energy performances, they leaped onto the stage to an audience that was just as electrified to see them. Their presentation was entertaining and unconventional which is typical for them. Giordano Dance is less about telling a story through dance as they are about conveying energy. They are less about displaying subtle emotional overtones though dance than they are about presenting energy that jolts a reaction from the audience. When they do use emotion in their presentation, they are highly effective but it tends to be an emotion that seems that of a crowd — think of the emotions of a flashmob.

As a result, the audience is really gets into their performances and shows them unbridled support. They are a small ensemble of dancers and total only eleven dancers. They take command of the stage and feel like a much larger dance company with the look and feel of a company twice or three times their size. They have the presence and stamina to that of a small army. This group really dominates a stage like none other I have seen. Their movements are highly aerobic and explosive. They are quick and decisive.

The opener of the show best described the tone for the evening. A dance piece titled A Ritual Dynamic had the company moving, jumping, and leaping across the stage at a pace that would kill most aerobic instructors butts. The music for this was Egyptian Disco. This is a music piece that really needs to be heard to understand the energy of what started the evening. I would encourage you to research it up on YouTube. It starts with a steady rhythm of drums and builds with complexity. While it is quite relaxing with a jazz flute adding texture to the musical beat, it builds into a frenzy as it guides the listener. The music also has Spanish guitar which gives an sense of exoticism. The movements of Giordano Dance were less Middle Eastern or classically Spanish than one would expect from this piece of music. The energy was exuberant and unrestrained. In fact, upon reflection, I wondered how such a small group can keep up that level of energy throughout an evening. They don’t do slow dance movements. Everything moves at a pace that makes the viewer loose complete track of time. The evening whips by rapidly. It seems that one sits down and two hours flies in the beat of a heart.

This evening, the company proved how extremely adaptive it can be. At the beginning, it was announced that Maeghan McHale, one of the featured soloist, would not be able to perform as the result of a foot injury. Quite amazingly, Giordano Dance closed ranks and pulled together a show that was stunning without missing a beat. McHale’s piece Alloy was quickly substituted with Gravity — a duet dance piece by Dean Rozanski and Katie Rafferty. They did a wonderful job particularly considering the short notice. Choreographed by Lindsey Leduc, Gravity was a more of a romantic piece. The musical center of Gravity is a musical piece of the same name that was written by Sara Bareilles. It is a lovely musical selection that moves at a slow and builds at a steady pace. The dance while executed beautifully, was not slow. It was quite aerobic and intense. It lacked a certain amount of depth of feeling, passion or tenderness that the music was intended to carry. Instead it was a bit more forceful. The movements didn’t quite jell for me as much as their other works. The dance was lovely and well performed but not to that piece of music. The two did not mesh.

Exit 4 was choreographed by Roni Koresh. This had a very tribal and urban feel. There were a lot of very interesting gestures and movements that made the work become exceptionally powerful. Whether it was with funky repetitive head gestures, the air of toughness with the walking and body posturing or perhaps it was the shouts from the dancers; there were many aspects of this performance that seemed to signify the coming together of a group. It was about urban gang assimilation and of isolation. It is a piece that has a grittiness as if it conveys aspects of life in prison without escape. It was very engaging in it’s raw and violent approach. As an audience member, this rawness was tempered with exuberance with music selections that mixed Turkish, Persian and Iraqi beats. Dancers acted like vultures circling their prey.  It seemed to depict a message of what it is like to be apart of a society as it falls into chaos and making a choice at some point to walk away or choose to be apart of it. It seemed to ask the question of whether being a part of a society in disarray is helpful or is it more admirable to exit to maintain individuality.

    The last half of the program was two pieces: the first was Entropy and the finale was Feelin’ Good Sweet — a world premiere.  Entropy was created by choreographer Davis Robertson. Looking at the piece, it had to be exhausting to perform and required much strength and endurance from the dancers. The men carried the female dancers as they “awoke” to the morning sun and birds. This was an inventive, original and different. It was a interesting contrast to the finale Feeling Good Sweet. Feeling Good Sweet has more buzz and glitz than the rest of the performance. It was flashy with more lighting effects and costuming but it was also similar to Bob Fosse’s work for Sweet Charity. This dance number seemed approachable and something the audience instantly resonated with.  The music was a mixture of Micael BublĂ©, Aretha Franklin and Waren Wade. It was straight up jazz and jazz inspired dance. It was a very sexy rendition. As mentioned, this felt like Sweet Charity. But unlike Bob Fosse’s movie work of the dance sequence, this jazz work seemed current and relevant to today.  It anything, this was a mixture of what really great jazz dance contains. The audience loved this piece — and with good reason. It was fun, entertaining and high energy. It was a perfect end and lacked for nothing. It looked back at jazz and at the same time brought it forward and into the. Ray Leeper, the choreographer of Feelin’ Good Sweet did brilliant work. The audience jumped to a standing ovation with numerous energy as the dancers displayed throughout the evening. I hope Feelin’ Good Sweet becomes part of Giordano Dance’s standard repertoire.

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