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Jazz Dance Congress report 2005.

Smooth: Ron de Jesus' Prey, performed by Giordano Jazz Dance Company.

If anything defines jazz dance, it's the excitement of what's happening in the streets. Jazz changes with the times and at this year's Jazz Dance World Congress, Aug. 3-7 in Chicago, hip hop reigned supreme. The event was presented by jazz dance legend Gus Giordano and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

"There's some wonderfully funky, great stuff," said Joe Tremaine, a long-time Los Angeles jazz dance teacher and participant at the Congress. "Hip hop is a part of jazz. And jazz is essential American dance."

Hip hop was on the minds of many teachers at the Congress, who incorporated it into their combinations in classes packed with 50-100 participants in the ballrooms and meeting areas of the Palmer House Hilton Hotel. New York teacher Frank Hatchett urged his students to let themselves go--without ignoring the basics of ballet training--in classes that had dancers exploding off the floor from down-on-the-ground ball changes that transitioned to dazzling pirouettes and grands battements in the air.

The wildest of the styles finding favor at the Congress was "krumping," a style of competitive dance invented on the streets of Los Angeles (cover story, July 2004) and now making its way onto dance floors across the country. Volatile and full of almost uncontrollable energy, krumping showed up in class and onstage when Gold Leo Award winners Patti Rutland Jazz of Dothan, Alabama, presented A.M. at the Congress' concluding performance.

There was more than hip hop onstage, however. One of the most inspiring troupes of the event was Masashi Action Machine, who performed Japanese Businessman before a roaring crowd at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. Adept at robotic isolations, gymnastics, and even strobe-like mini-fluctuations of the hands and arms, the Masashi company captivated with its almost frenetic depiction of the iconic Japanese "suit" at work in bustling Tokyo. The piece was created by Kumiko Sakamotu and Masashi Mishiro.

Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, under the artistic direction of Nan Giordano (daughter of founder Gus), showed the smoother side of jazz dance in their lyrical and spicy Prey, choreographed by Ron de Jesus. The Koresh Dance Company from Philadelphia presented the post-apocalyptic, quirky, jerky Facing the Sun, choreographed by Ron Koresh. However, it was Chicago's own Joffrey Ballet that reminded audiences of the sweet, almost languid jazz dance that started the entire movement in a glowing, nostalgic "Passage for Two," excerpted from Jerome Robbins' 1958 N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz.
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Title Annotation:DANCE MATTERS; Ron de Jesus' Prey
Author:Voedisch, Lynn
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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