Gus & Peg Giordano Legacy Timeline

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Gus & Peg Giordano Legacy Timeline

Being Gus and Peg’s granddaughter, I thought I knew everything there was to know about them. After reading the interactive timeline on our new website I found out quickly that wasn’t the case. For example, I didn't know Gus worked with MC Hammer! 

Our new website includes beautiful photos, information regarding all things GUS, and a new timeline that will provide a complete history of Gus, Peg, and the School. Gus and Peg’s history is so captivating, and the timeline is a continuous work in progress that currently shows us the very beginning of an amazing life journey for both Gus and Peg.

It all began on July 10, 1923 when Gus was born in St. Louis, MO.  At the age of 5, Gus fell in love with dance on a trip to New Orleans where he saw his cousin perform in a dance show. Once he returned to St. Louis, Gus immediately began training with Minette Buchman, who he credited as his inspiration his entire life. Shortly after, Peg was born in 1928. She weighed only 3 pounds and was considered a medical miracle because her low birth rate had no affect on her health. When Peg was 7 years old she was hit by a car and remained in a coma for 2 weeks.  She was not expected to live, but she came out of the coma and her only permanent damage was that she lost all sense of smell! In 1944, during WWII, Gus joined the Marines. The G.I. Bill gave Gus the college education that he desired. Gus and Peg both attended the University of Missouri, which is how they met and fell in love.

Gus had a tremendous impact on dance in Chicago and around the world, and Peg was by his side for every minute of it. Gus began his professional dance career in June of 1950 after being cast in Josh Logan’s Wish You Were Here on Broadway. Shortly after, Gus and Peg got married in St. Louis on October 14, 1950. They immediately took an Amtrak train to Chicago for their honeymoon to stay at the Drake Hotel.  They were only in Chicago for one night because Gus had to fly back to New York to perform on Tuesday.  Peg always said it was the best weekend of her life!  After numerous jobs in NYC, including numerous appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Gus knew that he did not want the gypsy lifestyle of a male dancer.  He wanted to teach and spread his love of jazz dance to the world, so in 1953 they moved to Chicago and Gus began teaching in one room at 614 Davis Street in Evanston, IL.

After opening the School, Gus dedicated his life to teaching and elevating jazz dance throughout the world.  As his technique grew, he saw the demand to create the first ever jazz shoe.  Before this, jazz dance was barefoot!  In 1985, Governor Jim Thompson declared April 25th “Gus Giordano Day” which is celebrated at the School annually. Gus also received Chicago Senior Citizen Award from Richard M. Daley in 2004 for his incredible influence on the dance scene in Chicago and around the world. Daley declared October 13th as "Gus Giordano Day" in the city of Chicago!

Make sure to visit our website frequently as we will continue to add more of Gus and Peg's Legacy to the timeline.

Written by Lauren Giordano Curran

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Face the Future Holiday Show December 10, 2016

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Face the Future Holiday Show December 10, 2016

With the holiday season around the corner, I can’t help but to think about the annual Face the Future Foundation Holiday Party and Toy Drive. On December 10th GUS Company Members will be performing for the third year in a row at the UIC Craniofacial unit for the Face the Future Foundation Holiday Party. Face the Future Foundation works to transform the lives of Chicago-based children with cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies by facilitating access to the best medical care and funding research and education, while helping the children build brighter futures. The Foundation treats all who need the medical care, and does not discriminate against race, ethnicity, or the ability to pay. This performance has become a highlight for all of our Company Members, faculty, & staff at GUS because we are able to experience the joy that the children have when watching our GUS dancers while being a part of this great community.

More than 350 children attend the Face the Future Foundation Holiday Party and each one leaves with a gift from Santa Claus! The patients and their siblings all receive a gift that are provided through the Toy Drive that GUS holds at the School.  We begin collecting toys on November 1st for all of the children and last year we collected over 300 gifts! All of our students at the School are highly encouraged to donate and many donate multiple gifts. Our GUS students love going with their parents to pick out gifts for the children and it all comes full circle when watching the children open them.

After our first year performing at the party, my mother Amy Giordano, fell in love with the children and became a board member for the Foundation. We were invited to go on a tour of the Craniofacial Unit at UIC after she became a member of the board.  We were ecstatic to go on the tour because we were able to see the facility and how much they make an impact on the lives of the children and their families. They treat children from the time they are born all the way until they turn 18 and you could tell immediately that the Director of the Craniofacial Unit, Dr. Mimis Cohen, pours his soul into creating a brighter and healthier life for the kids.  While on the tour and at the party, you are able to see the love that the all of the doctors and staff have for the children.  It is infectious! Our Company Members stay for hours after the performance is over to take photos, decorate cookies, and help the children with crafts. Every year we are honored to be a part of this event.

Written by Lauren Giordano Curran

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