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