Twyla Tharp, born July 1, 1941, in Portland, Indiana.
Ginger Rogers, born Virginia Katherine McMath, July 16, 1911, in Independence, Missouri. (Rogers died in 1995, age 83.)
Michael Flatley, born July 16, 1958, in Chicago, Illinois.
Philippine “Pina” Bausch, born July 27, 1940, in Solingen, Germany. (Bausch died in 2009, age 68.)
Jacques d’Amboise, born Joseph Jacques Ahearn, July 28, 1934, in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Paul Taylor, born July 29, 1930, in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
August “Gus” Giordano, jazz dance pioneer and creator of the Giordano Technique, born July 10, 1923, in St. Louis, Missouri. (Giordano died in 2008, age 84.)
In “Schools With Staying Power: Infinite Possibilities” (September 2013), Rita Felciano writes about the 60th anniversary and history of Giordano’s school, Gus Giordano Dance, originally founded in Evanston, Illinois, in 1953 and now directed by Giordano’s daughter Amy Giordano, in Chicago. (Amy’s sister, Nan Giordano, is artistic director of Giordano Dance Chicago, the dance company their father founded in 1963 as Dance Incorporated Chicago.)
Felciano writes, “It may be difficult to remember just how much of a forward-looking thinker the elder Giordano was. As a child watching an older cousin, he fell in love with tap and started to study it. But jazz dance as a discipline to be studied did not exist. It was relegated to clubs, show business, vaudeville, and the movies. So Giordano supplemented his training with ballet and modern classes, studying with such luminaries as Katherine Dunham, Hanya Holm, and Alwin Nikolai. Out of those experiences he developed his (at the time) quite revolutionary approach to jazz dance.”
Quotable: Dancers on Dance
Jazz dance celebrates sensuality. Its character is not romantic, like ballet, nor is it highly reflective, like modern dance. Therefore, jazz requires a mature body, and it is preferred that jazz training not begin until the onset of puberty. Foremost, the student must view the body as a personal instrument, as a keyboard with infinite possibilities. With this in mind, students should be groomed and dressed in a way that allows the teacher to observe all nuances in movement. Isolation moves, turns, and flexibility of the feet are all lost in bulky clothing and footwear. —Gus Giordano
(From the introduction to Jazz Dance Class: Beginning Thru Advanced, 1992. In 2013 Amy Giordano told DSL that the perspective on when to begin jazz dance training had changed in the two decades since the publication of her father’s book: “For younger students,” Giordano said, “today’s teachers have learned to break down the movements and isolations into simple terms.”)