Evanston-based Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago has named Michael McStraw its executive director effective Sept. 13.
“Michael has a long history both as a member and an advocate for Chicago’s performing arts community,” said Giordano’s board president, John Seebeck. “His energy and enthusiasm for the arts, combined with his experience working in for-profit corporate organizations, will bring new light and direction" to the organization.
As a professional dancer, semi-professional musician, arts administrator, dance educator, board member, and arts patron, McStraw has been involved in the Chicago community for the past 26 years.
He has danced extensively with the area’s premier contemporary dance companies, including Mordine & Company Dance Theater, an organization he also managed, Jan Erkert & Dancers, and DanceLoop Chicago, of which he is a founding member.
McStraw was a member of and soloist with Chicago Master Singers for more than 12 years, and has performed at numerous area churches and synagogues.
Raised in Western Pennsylvania, McStraw holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Allegheny College and a master of fine arts degree in modern dance from the University of Michigan. Early in his career, he served a stint as an agricultural extension agent in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
McStraw’s return to full-time arts administration follows a successful 17-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, most notably with G.D. Searle and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America.
Currently in its 48th season, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago is dedicated to developing, performing and enhancing awareness of jazz dance, a true American art form.
Founded by Gus Giordano and currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Nan Giordano, the company’s new works expand the boundaries of jazz dance. In addition to its concert performances, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago conducts an extensive outreach and education program in Chicago metropolitan area schools, the Chicago Park District and college campuses.