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Jazzed in July: JDWC carries on.

The international celebration of the American style of jazz dance, the Jazz Dance World Congress, hosted by Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, returns this month. Since the Congress' founding in 1990, the biennial event welcomes dancers from as many as 35 countries through classes, performances, and competitions. This year they have some new additions to the lineup and a new partnership with four universities.

Participants include Buffalo's LehrerDance, Japan's Masashi Action Machine, Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre, Mexico's Cuerpo Etereo Danza Contemporanea, and Koresh Dance Company of Philadelphia. The Congress also features hometown favorites like the Joel Hall Dancers, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, River North Chicago Dance Company, and of course Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago.

The Congress has a packed schedule of daytime classes and nightly performances in downtown Chicago's Millennium Park. Current GJDC dancer Maeghan McHale was introduced to the company through the Congress back in 2003. She performed in a piece that her sister had choreographed for the Leo's competition. Being at the Congress opened McHale's eyes to a career opportunity. "When I saw the company perform the first night, I was hooked. I felt it was a good fit for me." When she returned to the Congress in 2005, she auditioned and received a scholarship to the Giordano Dance School.

McHale says that JDWC is a fertile ground for building connections within the jazz world. "Congress is an amazing experience," she says. "It's also a great place to establish your name and your work. That's how so many people have been able to make connections and have started relationships with different schools and companies from around the world."

In 2009, the event looks to expand its reach even further. For the first time, JDWC is offering special auditions for college dance programs and scholarships. University of Arizona, State University at Buffalo, Hofstra University on Long Island, and Point Park University in Pittsburgh will hold auditions July 26, open to JDWC participants.

"We're trying to broaden the spectrum," says JDWC artistic director Nan Giordano. "We have the concert dance, of course, and all the different companies and artistic directors. We have the commercial element, too, from some of our faculty. Now we have the universities. We're really trying to hit all the arenas that a jazz dancer can go into."

A revamped version of Kids' Jazz, will allow for more integration with the master faculty. Leo's Jazz Dance Choreography competition (with a jury that includes Dance Magazine's editor in chief, Wendy Perron), panel discussions, and the energetic and collaborative Jazz Jamm will offer additional chances to experience all the facets of jazz dance.

The specialties of the master faculty span a wide spectrum of jazz dance styles as well, ranging from the classical Giordano style, to Asian high-energy, to contemporary and modern-influenced jazz. Congress participants will get a taste of each--and many more--through the teachings of Joe Tremaine, Homer Bryant, Liz Imperio, Jon Lehrer, Masashi Mishiro, Cesar Salinas, Sherry Zunker, and Nan Giordano.


Notably missing from that list is Gus Giordano, original founder of both the Congress and Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. This JDWC will be the first without Giordano, who died last year ("Transitions," June 2008). The 2009 Congress has been dedicated in his honor, and the Giordano school plans to premiere a documentary on his life and work (see for clips).

"He won't be there," Nan says, "but his presence will be there."
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Title Annotation:dance matters; Jazz Dance World Congress
Author:Werling, Karen
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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