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"Things rooted in the black community tend to be confiscated or diminished," says the founder of Joel Hall Dancers & Center. "I'm not going to let that happen as long as I'm around." Photo by Dean Paul, courtesy of Joel Hall Dance Center

When Joel Hall enters a studio, students fall silent and rise in respect. He can command a room from its corner with merely a facial expression, but more often, he takes charge by getting into the thick of the dance, letting the beat of the house music move him and pulling meaning and emotion from each dancer. A well-timed "yes!" can thrust a penché to 180 degrees. A snapped finger and a "work!" can bring out the inner diva in even the shyest student. And an ecstatic "oh!" can move hips like mountains.

"I instill in my dancers the discipline of proper training, but I also let them know they have a voice—a voice that shows where they came from—and I want to hear it," Hall says. "My class is tough, and I get fabulous people out of it."

Towering over his students, with unparalleled stature and grace, Hall may appear intimidating. But those lucky enough to have been part of his story know that he is much more than a fierce commander of the studio—he is made up almost entirely of heart.

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We're willing to bet that, by now, you've not only heard of hiplet, you've formed some opinions about it, too. Homer Hans Bryant (DT, February 2008), who coined the term and the dance style (it's a hybrid of hip hop and ballet, and it's pronounced "hip-lay"), knows he has his critics and detractors. But his argument—that he's made a typically formal and stiff style of dance into something contemporary and culturally freeing—definitely has merit. And as the artistic director of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and a former principal with Dance Theatre of Harlem, the man clearly has the know-how and credentials to safely train his dancers. "I will tell you, every girl at this school is classically trained. Everyone does ballet, and everything else," reassures one of Bryant's dancers.

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Deeply Rooted Dance TheaterThe MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund—which supports two-way artistic exchanges to benefit the Chicago arts—has awarded grants to 18 Chicago arts and culture organizations. Artistic exchanges will be happening in 16 different countries! What makes Chicago so special? The MacArthur Foundation is housed in Chicago, and it’s the home city of the organization’s founders, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur.

The Chicago dance world makes a pretty respectable appearance in the list of awardees: Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Clinard Dance Theatre, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and Same Planet Different World all received funding.

Drumroll, please…

Chicago Human Rhythm Project, a tap performance and education organization, got $45,000 to conduct artistic residences in Chicago, Brazil and Argentina—including classes for kids.

Clinard Dance Theatre received $20,000 to do an exchange with contemporary dance company in India, so that each dance company can create a new piece.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater was awarded $40,000 for a multi-year residency with a dance company in South Africa.

Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre got $47,000 to fund a collaboration with a dance company in Israel, for the development and premiere of a new piece.

Gus Giordano Dance School director Amy Giordano holds the sign that will live in front of the school.You know you’ve made it big when you get a street named after you, and legendary jazz dancer and teacher Gus Giordano is no exception. On Saturday, October 12, the Gus Giordano Dance School began celebrating its 60th anniversary with the installation and presentation of an “Honorary Gus Giordano Way” street sign on North Clark Street in Chicago, where the school is located. This isn’t the first time Giordano has been honored in a big way by the city of Chicago: In 1989, then mayor Richard Daley declared October 13 “Gus Giordano Day.”

Giordano, who passed away in 2008, founded not only his dance school but also his own company, Giordano Dance Chicago, and the annual Jazz Dance World Congress, both now directed by his daughter Nan. As part of the weekend anniversary celebration, “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer Dee Caspary and original A Chorus Line Broadway cast member Laura Klein held workshops.

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