Expanding a small dance company’s size and reach is a demanding and complex task, especially when the company has already built an outstanding reputation. CDHP’s Giordano Research Day on August 8 continued with Ben Hodge, Giordano Dance Chicago’s first official executive director. Ben explained his long history with the company, starting with a close friendship with his cousin, Peg Giordano, and culminating in his work as executive director beginning in 1996.
Who better to assume a lead management role in the company, which had long been a tight-knit, family-run operation, than a family member? Though Ben had many years of experience operating an educational film distribution company, he faced an entirely different challenge when he joined Giordano; having no dance background, he and the performers had to “adapt to each other.” Luckily, his years of casual involvement with the company familiarized him with the details of life within Giordano and he quickly became a beloved member of Giordano’s professional family as well.
Though Ben retired several years ago and passed his mantle on to current executive director Michael McStraw, he still attends every Giordano performance in Chicago. He also makes time for the work of other companies, citing Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street, and, before its closure, Luna Negra as perennial favorites, and emphasizing that Chicago’s welcoming and friendly dance community is unique and essential in cultivating the rich dance scene that exists here today.
And Ben, we think you can dance, too!