Gus Giordano’s dedication to jazz dance has exhibited itself in all facets: dancer, master teacher, choreographer, author, and founder of Gus Giordano Dance School.
Gus extended his choreographic talents into all dimensions of performance including television, film, stage commercials, and industrials. His nationally acclaimed 1980 television production, The Rehearsal, received an Emmy Award, the PBS Award, and the Ohio State Award. Gus Giordano was also commissioned by orchestra conductor Doc Severinsen to choreograph his jazz production, The Valley of Xebron, which made its debut nationally on the “Sound Stage” television show in 1982. Gus choreographed the Goodman Theatre’s holiday presentation, A Christmas Carol, and he was one of six choreographers for the 1988 Chicago revival of the Broadway musical Hair.
Gus credited Minette Buchman, St. Louis, as his mentor during his early dance training. He minored in dance at the University of Missouri (Columbia). While in New York, he appeared on Broadway and studied with Katherine Dunham, Peter Gennaro, Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, and Oreste Segerifsky. Giordano wrote the highly acclaimed Anthology of American Jazz Dance, the first book of its kind. Dance Magazine wrote, “Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin were responsible for jazz turning respectable when in 1924, they premiered “Rhapsody in Blue” in a serious music concert in New York City. Gus Giordano performs a similar rite of passage for jazz dance in 1975 with his book Anthology of American Jazz Dance.”
Honors include 1984 Dance Educators of America Award for his “outstanding contribution to the world of jazz dance”, and in 1996 the University of Missouri the “Distinguished Alumni Award” and the “William Francis English Scholar-in-Residence Award”. In 1985, Governor James Thompson declared April 25 “Gus Giordano Day” in appreciation of his “immense contribution to the cultural environment of the State of Illinois”, and in 1989 Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley declared October 13 “Gus Giordano Day” in the city of Chicago. In 1995, he received the “Honorable Artist Award” from Chukyo University in Nagoya, Japan. Gus also served as National Spokesperson for National Dance Week in 1997. In 1999, Gus received the Third Annual Katherine Dunham Award for “excellence and great contributions to the Arts.” In 2005 he was awarded the “Senior Citizen of the Year for the Chicago Park District Award” from Mayor Richard M. Daley. Gus passed away in March of 2008 but his legacy lives on in every dancer he touched.
Peg Giordano was born March 13, 1928. She was a miracle from the day she was born as she weighed less than 4 pounds. Peg was the only child of Oscar (Hap) and Freida (Pat) Thoelke. Peg was loved by all who met her, including Gus.
Gus & Peg met in college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. Peg supported Gus' dream of devoting his life to jazz dance. After marrying Gus, they lived in a one room apartment in New York City. Gus auditioned for everything in New York and Peg worked as a Secretary to support both of them. They moved from New York City to Wilmette, Illinois and Peg became the heart of the Dance School.
She handled schedules (Gus' and the School's), phone calls, payroll, marketing, insurance, costumes and was a mother to all of the dancers. Peg received the Ruth Page Lifetime Service to the Field Award with Gus in 1993.
Peg passed away suddenly that same year at age 65 from a massive heart attack. Her warmth and kindness made a lasting impression and her love of life lives on in all of the dancers at the School.