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Emcee Candace Jordan (center) with Ben Hess (with Ashley Downs) selected as “Best Male Dancer” and Tina Monaghan (with Cesar G. Salinas), selected as “Best Female Dancer.” (photo courtesy of Giordano Dance Chicago).

Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC), hosted its 13th “Dancing With The Giordano Stars” ballroom dance competition to benefit GDC and its educational outreach programs at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Thursday, Oct. 4, 7-11 p.m. Candace Jordan emceed this successful event which attracted more than 450 attendees and raised more than $262,000 for GDC and their programs.

​“This was our most successful Dancing with the Giordano Stars Benefit ever, thanks to the generosity of the attendees and our sponsors, but especially the generosity of time, energy and heart of the contestants” said GDC Artistic Director Nan Giordano.

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 this year’s competition were Jim Karas, founder of Intelligent Fitness and Wellness, Joffrey Ballet Chicago’s Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Chicago Sun-Times’ Ji Suk Yi. They selected Ben Hess (with Ashley Downs) as “Best Male Dancer” and Tina Monaghan (with Cesar G. Salinas), as “Best Female Dancer.” Monaghan also garnered the People’s Choice award. Honorable mention went to Dr. Otto Aldana (with Katie Rafferty).

​The full slate of male contestants (and their GDC dance partners) were Dr. Otto Aldana (with Katie Rafferty), Matt Brown (with Ari Israel), Thomas Buckley (with Maeghan McHale), Ben Hess (with Ashley Downs) and Ryan Jacobson (with Mariterese Altonsino).The female contestants (and their GDC dance partners) were Whitney Bischoff Angel (with Joshua Blake Carter), Jenny Ames (with Zachary Heller), Pam Cullerton (with Devin Buchanan), Leslie Glazier (with Jacob Frazier), Tina Monaghan (with Cesar G. Salinas), Aida Johnson-Rapp (with Adam Houston) and Dr. Joanna Slusky (with Ryan Galloway).

​Event co-chairs were past contestants Susan Carlins (GDC Board member) and Christine D’hondt. Event committee members are GDC Artistic Director Nan Giordano, Sandy Golub (GDC Board member), Pat Manus, Dr. Stacie McClane, Molly Newell (GDC Board member) and Sheri Passalino.

The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with spirits and light fare. The GDC company dancers then treated the audience to a sneak peek of the Ray Leeper’s newest work SOUL, debuting at GDC’s fall Harris Theater engagement before the contestants and the GDC dance partners made their grand entrance. The competition followed. As part of the competition, each couple performs a compulsory Foxtrot and a dance of their choice such as Cha Cha, Swing, Rumba, Salsa or Tango.

​Giordano Dance’s fall engagement at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park (205 E. Randolph Dr.) Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The program will feature the debut of SOUL, a new, full-company work by award-winning choreographer Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent) plus popular selections from GDC’s repertoire. Tickets are $15-$75. For tickets call 312.334.7777 or visit harristheaterchicago.org.

"Dancing with the Giordano Stars" Raises More Than $262K for Giordano Dance and its Programs

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