ANDERSONVILLE — The Gus Giordano Dance School is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month, and the city will recognize the school's famous founder with honorary street signs on North Clark Street in Andersonville.
Gus Giordano — renowned as the founding father of jazz dance —"taught everywhere," but never had a permanent dance school in Chicago, his daughter said.
“My father’s dream was to have his school in the city of Chicago as he knew that he could reach more students in Chicago," his daughter, Amy Giordano, said in a news release about the anniversary celebration. "Gus was always enamored with the beauty of Chicago and the city’s support of all art forms."
The legendary teacher and dancer, who was born in north suburban Evanston, died from pneumonia-related complications in 2008 at the age of 84, and left the family's dance school in Evanston in Amy Giordano's hands. She took over as director and fulfilled her father's "dream" two years ago when she moved the school from downtown Evanston to 5230 N. Clark St., in the heart of Andersonville.
The dance school said Andersonville has been a "fantastic" home in the past few years.
"I love, love, love Andersonville, it's a fantastic neighborhood," Amy Giordano said. "It's very supportive, and there are so many restaurants and shops for parents to wait at while their kids learn."
Amy Giordano said her father made it his life mission to ensure the world would know jazz dance the way it knew other popular forms of dance.
Gus Giordano was an award-winning dancer, choreographer and master teacher who helped popularize jazz dance around the world. He even wrote the first book focused on the genre.
"My father really started all of this. People did not know jazz dance like they knew ballet," Amy Giordano said. "I'm just really happy to be able to continue it here."
The school, which teaches more than 500 adult students and children as young as 2, has big plans for its 60th anniversary.
• On Oct. 12, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) and Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) are slated to present the installation of an “Honorary Gus Giordano Way” street sign outside the school as a nod to the master dancer's accomplishments. Osterman's chief of staff, Dan Luna, said that Clark Street from West Foster to West Berwyn avenues will be dedicated to Gus Giordano.
• Gus Giordano Dance School faculty and dance company members are scheduled to perform at the Swedish American Museum at a celebration party on Oct. 13, which the city designated as "Gus Giordano Day" in 1989.
• On Oct. 12 and 13, the school is offering dance workshops taught by celebrity dancers such as Dee Caspary from “So You Think You Can Dance," Laura Klein from the original Broadway cast of “A Chorus Line,” and 2013 Dance Chicago Choreographer of the Year Kate Jablonski.
And the dance school is also giving free advanced contemporary and jazz dance lessons every Monday and Friday until December.
For more information about dance school's 60th anniversary, including how to buy tickets to dance workshops and the celebration party, click here. And click here for more information about Gus Giordano and his dance school.