Assistant director and choreographer Jill Giedt contributes a unique set of focused skills to PassinArt’s coming production of Seven Guitars by August Wilson.
Along with a directing degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago, she brings 13 years of experience teaching musical theater – and yoga! – to teens at Park Academy in Lake Oswego.
Giedt’s been dancing all her life. She teaches at Step Studio, at Oregon Ballet Theatre and conducts her Beginning Ballet the Black Way class for Young Audiences.
She sings. Giedt intended to develop as a jazz singer in college; then, “I saw Alvin Ailey’s Revelation. I saw my lineage in the movements. I knew I was a dancer at that point.”
Giedt moves smoothly from African polyrhythms to Tchaikovsky and back again. She said she’s appreciating the rhythmic language August Wilson writes for his characters in Seven Guitars.
“It’s like hearing jazz,” she says, “his hues of jazz and blues.”
Seven Guitars takes place in 1948. A long, long, time ago. But the story remains compellingly – disturbingly – contemporary.
“The racism is another character – the force behind the piece,” Giedt says. “The racism that’s being played out there, we’re still seeing that today. That vulnerability is still there. That hasn’t changed.”
This is why Giedt is doing theater with PassinArt.
“The PassinArt mission is my mission,” she says. “We’re telling our own stories. My purpose is to create a path for us to share our truth.
“We’re calling in on our ancestors,” she adds. “We honor them with this. We’re honoring the ancestors and we’re honoring ourselves.”