From Bolivia to Tucson to Chicago, Eduardo Zambrana has started a new job with the prestigious Giordano Dance Company, his time at the University of Arizona School of Dance leading him to the career of his dreams.
Zambrana, originally from Cochabamba, Bolivia, earned two degrees in Tucson, including a BFA in dance in 2019, magna cum laude, and then an MFA with an emphasis in choreography and performance in 2021.
As a Wildcat, Zambrana received both the Creative Achievement Award and a Medici Scholars Award in 2020. He performed masterworks with UA Dance by Paul Taylor, Frank Chavez, Nacho Duato, Larry Keigwin, and Martha Graham. Zambrana also served as the rehearsal assistant to artist in residence Sam Watson and assisted faculty member Michael Williams in producing the well known and loved Arizona Jazz Dance Workshop in 2019.
“Growing up in a country that has no higher education in dance motivated me to move out in pursuit of my dreams to become a professional dancer,” Zambrana said. “The University of Arizona School of Dance has such a prestigious reputation in the U.S. — top 10 for several consecutive years — that I accepted the challenge to apply for the program.
“The first time I visited the School of Dance in Tucson, I had a feeling similar to being at home in Bolivia and I knew that it was the right fit for me and the future of my career.”
Since graduating, Zambrana has worked with notable companies such as Hawkins Dance, Convergence Ballet Company, Dance Kaleidoscope, and Giordano Dance Chicago where he is currently an Ensemble member. As a new member of the Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC) company, he has toured with the company and performed notable repertoire by Autumn Eckman, Kiesha Lalama, and Ray Leeper.
Find out more about his career beyond the University, his successes after graduation, including his new role with Giordano Dance Chicago.
Eduardo Zambrana joins Giordano Dance Chicago
What have you been up to since graduation?
Since graduation, I worked under the leadership of former Martha Graham Dance Company dancer and rehearsal director David Hochoy at Dance Kaleidoscope (DK) in Indianapolis, Indiana. I trained and polished my skills in Graham Technique while working with guest artists in the community. This represented a huge milestone in my career since I got to work with the legacy of dance pioneer Martha Graham. With DK, I participated in many performances including the Penrod Arts Fair, at Exhibit Columbus in Columbus, Indiana, and at the Spirit and Place Festival, a collaboration with the Writers’ Center of Indianapolis.
(Hochoy and Dance Kaleidoscope were awarded the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award for artistic merit in 2016, and the company performs locally and internationally at world-class events.)
It was an unparalleled experience filled with performances featuring diverse and challenging repertory.
Then, I was presented with an exciting new opportunity to dance with Giordano Dance Chicago this past January. I went from training in Graham Technique to immersing myself in the Giordano Technique and became the first Bolivian to be certified in all five levels of the Giordano Technique.
It has always been a big dream of mine to be part of Giordano Dance Chicago and leave my mark in the concert world. Joining Giordano Dance Chicago has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences in my professional career.
I had the privilege to tour with the company to several cities across Illinois and the U.S. performing choreography by internationally renowned choreographers such as Autumn Eckman, Kiesha Lalama, Ray Leeper, John Lehrer, Ronen Koresh, Christopher Huggins, and Ray Mercer. Our home base is the world-renowned Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
What was transitioning into the Giordano Dance Chicago Company like?
I started rehearsing with GDC on Jan. 17. The first show was scheduled for Feb. 5. I had about three weeks to learn and polish a challenging and diverse repertoire and be ready to perform on stage.
I remember my first full day with the company, I had to learn Joshua Blake Carter’s piece Take A Gambol in its entirety by the end of the day and perform it in the studio for Artistic Director Nan Giordano. I was in disbelief that I had learned a full piece in one day and still managed to impress the director. After the run of the piece, I thought I was going to faint.
My fellow company members were so encouraging in the whole process. The dancers in the company always have each other’s backs, spreading the energy needed to get through our challenging rehearsals. I quickly learned in GDC, we have to quickly adapt and be open to new challenges. It was an impactful and fulfilling experience because it allowed me to prove to myself that I was a dancer ready for the job.
Tell us about your role with Giordano Dance Chicago?
As part of the GDC dance ensemble, I am expected to be versatile and learn multiple roles within the Giordano repertoire, working to perfect the essence of each dance work. For this performance season, I have been asked to learn over 12 demanding roles, a task reserved only for an individual with an unparalleled mastery of choreography and leadership skills. It is my goal as a GDC dancer to set a higher standard of artistic excellence. Carrying on this legacy, I hope to continue to elevate the level of jazz dance while working to cultivate a deep seeded love for the art form within the hearts of the next generation of dancers. When you become part of Giordano, you become part of a big family of exceptional artists.
What was it like to perform in your first show with the company?
My first performance with Giordano Dance Chicago was “Illuminate” at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois. This show, with its dynamic and joyous program, featured a performance by South African composer Bongi Duma. GDC’s rich repertoire included the return of Kiesha Lalama’s Alegria, Joshua Blake Carter’s Take A Gambol, and Ray Leeper’s acclaimed piece Feelin’ Good Sweet. This performance was my debut as a Giordano Dance Chicago dancer. It was a dream come true and is an accomplishment of the highest reputation in the field.
What has been the biggest thing you took away from your time at UA?
I learned that the people you meet at the University of Arizona become long-life friends, supportive mentors, professional connections, and new family members. The Wildcat family is everywhere!
What advice do you have for Arizona Arts graduates post grad?
Don’t let other people decide what your future should be. Be ready to create new opportunities, adapt to challenging situations, and shape your path to achieve your dreams.