Made in America: the cultural legacy of jazz dance artist Gus Giordano

Sabo, Linda
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The late Jack Cole initiated the concept of a learned technique for jazz dancers and other (earlier) innovators began to respond to jazz music and create choreography that fused classical technique with this new style. Presently, Gus Giordano, with Luigi and Matt Mattox, is one of three living dance artists that are considered pioneer figures in systemizing jazz dance. The dance company Giordano established in 1963 still exists and tours extensively, and the technique he meticulously codified, illustrated, and published in 1975 is still known and used by dance teachers on several continents. These achievements allow for a widespread dissemination of his aesthetic, and his success at establishing an annual Jazz Dance World Congress has gained credibility and respect for jazz dance as a serious artistic expression. Giordano's most notable contribution, however, is the codification of his distinctly powerful and universally applicable jazz style present in his technique. The clean straightforwardness of Giordano's line and this style's deep center of control make this technique more understandable and assumable in the foundational training of a young dancer. Although Giordano borrows from ballet and modem dance, his technique is dynamically and aesthetically distinct from either genre chiefly because of its liberal borrowing from the African dance aesthetic, which give it authority, drive, and sensuality. These qualities, when inscribed upon the dancer's body create an empowering and grounding effect, dissimilar to the effect created by other existing dance idioms.