On Thursday, October 6, Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC), hosted its 11th “Dancing With The Giordano Stars” ballroom dance competition to benefit GDC and its educational outreach programs at Park West in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Ji Suk Yi of WLS-TV’s Windy City Live emceed this successful event, which attracted 450 attendees and raised more than $200,000 for GDC and their programs.

“This annual event provides important financial support for our season and our outreach programs, so we’re thrilled to see this year’s event far exceed our goal,” says GDC artistic director Nan Giordano. “But it was the pure joy and positive energy of the evening that radiated through everyone from competitor to judge to audience member that I think I’ll remember most.”

Patterned after the hit ABC series Dancing With The Stars, this popular dance competition and benefit  paired GDC professional dancers with their pre-selected partners from the who’s who of Chicago’s civic, social and business communities to vie for “Best Male Dancer” and “Best Female Dancer” honors before a panel of celebrity judges.

​Judges for the competition were: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s artistic director, Glenn Edgerton; David Manilow, creator and executive producer of WTTW’s Check Please; WFLD’s Corey McPherrin; and Kathleen Henson, founder and CEO of Henson Consulting. Judges selected Mark Kutek (with Linnea Stureson) as “Best Male Dancer” and Pat Manus (with Cesar Salinas) as “Best Female Dancer.” Honorable mentions were awarded to: Chris D’Hondtand Mario Sullivan (“Most Enthusiasm”); Jackie Bucksbaum (“Most Committed”) and Anne Burke (“Best Style”).

​The evening began at 7 p.m. with a lavish reception. The GDC company dancers treated the audience to a special performance before the contestants and their GDC dance partners made their grand entrance. As part of the competition that followed, each couple performed a compulsory Foxtrot and a dance of choice such as Cha Cha, Hip-Hop, Swing, Bollywood, Salsa or Tango. Open dancing for all completed the evening.

This event precedes GDC’s upcoming fall engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29, which will feature the world premiere of a new company work by esteemed choreographer Peter Chu, plus crowd-pleasing works from the company’s repertoire. Tickets are $15-$75. For tickets or more information, visit harristheaterchicago.org or call 312.334.7777.

Sponsors of the the 11th Annual Dancing With The Giordano Stars benefit included Anna Held Floral Studio, Golub & Company, HMS Media, Moll Law Group, ParkWest, Port Capital LLC, True Cuisine/Sweet Baby Ray’s and Truex American Furniture.

​Now in its 54th year, GDC is one of the longest running professional dance companies in Chicago and one of very few dance companies in the U.S. to have achieved this milestone. Under the leadership of Nan Giordano, artistic director, and Michael McStraw, executive director, GDC has created a world-class platform for superlative innovation in jazz and contemporary dance as well as community and educational outreach. The company’s Jazz Dance/Science & Health initiative reaches more than 400 CPS students in three neighborhood locations, and the Nan Giordano Certification Program SM offers certification world-wide to professional dance educators in the proprietary and foundational Giordano Technique, created by Gus Giordano.

(Left to right) Pat Manus, “Best Female Dancer,” with GDC’s Cesar G. Salinas, emcee Ji Suk Yi of WLS-TV’s Windy City Live, and Linnea Stureson with Mark Kutek, “Best Male Dancer” (photo courtesy of Phillip Thomas Photography).

Dancing with the Giordano Stars Benefit Raises Over $200K for Giordano Dance Programming and Initiatives