The headlining piece in Giordano’s fall program is a commission from Broadway and television choreographer Ray Leeper. Leeper makes commercial dances for music videos and TV dance competitions—big show-stoppers full of flash and fun, dance that’s about pure entertainment. “I’m totally okay with entertainment, ” artistic director Nan Giordano said. “It’s a big part of what our company does. There’s plenty of dark dance out there. I want the audience to walk out feeling great.” And feeling great is the theme of the number, set to three iconic songs on the subject. It opens to Michael Buble’s brassy, slinky rendition of “Feeling Good” and explodes across the stage in full-on Broadway style, complete with Fosse arms and black fedoras. Part two centers around sexy, bluesy partner work set to “Dr. Feelgood” and the big finish is to a rearrangement of Harold Arlen’s “Get Happy,” (made famous by Judy Garland in “Summer Stock”). The updated version of the tune provides space for a big buildup, not identifiably reaching the main theme till about halfway through the song. Leeper uses expansive traveling patterns and crossing lines of dancers to great effect; as he told me, “We break the fourth wall a lot.” The stage seems to triple in size with the exuberant energy of the Giordano dancers. This is the kind of smile-inducing number that lets you know where to clap, that inspired my three-year-old self to jump out of theater seats and dance in aisles.
Contrast is provided with “Exit4,” a piece by Israeli-born choreographer Roni Koresh that Giordano premiered last fall, another big, driving, full-company work in an entirely different vein. Forward facing and confrontational, the ranks of dancers grow to the ritualistic wail of ancient folk music. Energy surges through the piece in tensions, between dancer and audience, between dancer and dancer, frisson felt in loaded glares and gestures. The program also includes a new duet by resident choreographer Autumn Eckman, danced with captivating relish by Maeghan McHale and Devin Buchanan. Set to Mendelssohn, it’s a muscular and elegant work, a balance of release and firm control, peppered with pleasant surprises. (Sharon Hoyer)
Giordano Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)334-7777. Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25 at 7:30pm.