What’s up in the dance community
Gus Giordano’s dedication to jazz dance is common knowledge. Perhaps less known is how Giordano supported the genre at the ground level—by giving scholarships to young students hungry to travel to Chicago to learn jazz under his direct tutelage.
“I grew up seeing him help thousands of dancers,” Amy P. Giordano, his daughter and director of the Gus Giordano Dance School, told Dance Studio Life, naming Emmy-winning choreographer Mia Michaels and Chicago Human Rhythm Project director Lane Alexander as two dancers who benefited from her father’s generosity. “It’s staggering. I talk to people who were touched by him, and I keep hearing the same thing: he wanted to teach us so we could go out into the world and keep this legacy of jazz alive.”
Gus Giordano died in 2008, and while his school has continued to follow his philanthropic example on a limited basis, Amy Giordano said, the need to connect students with the classic jazz dance championed by her father and his contemporaries has only grown. The Gus Giordano Jazz Legacy Foundation, founded July 10 on the anniversary of his birthday, will hold its first benefit October 13 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Mayne Stage in Chicago.
Plans for the foundation are still forming, but Amy Giordano said she hopes it will provide scholarships for dancers and teachers to attend classes and special programs such as Giordano-based summer jazz intensives, and allow the school to expand its reach into the public school system.
“Like my dad, I want to do so many things,” says Amy Giordano, who sets a Giordano work on students from Chicago’s Nicholas Senn High School every year. “And when you have students who want to learn, you want to give them the world.”