CHICAGO (CBS) — A Hollywood-style dance competition benefiting Chicago students takes the stage Thursday night at the Park West concert venue in Lincoln Park.
Giordano Dance Chicago is hosting its 15th annual “Dancing with the Giordano Stars” event to raise money for the company’s outreach program serving Chicago Public Schools. CBS 2’s Ryan Baker will emcee the contest.
Contestants will include business, civic, and community leaders; who will pair up with professional dancers.
Dancer, choreographer, and director Joshua Blake Carter said it’s a lot of pressure for contestants who have been rehearsing since June.
“They get to the event the night of, and they’re like, ‘Oh no, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can do it.’ They get on that stage, they hit the stage, they feel their family, their friends, that audience, that energy, and it’s over so quickly,” he said. “There’s that feeling of, ‘I want to do it again. It was over too fast.'”
Routines will include each contestant performing the foxtrot, and then a dance of choice for each pair.
“Salsa, tango, hip hop. I mean, we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen line dancing. I mean, people really get creative,” Carter said.
Contestants only get 90 seconds for each dance, and Carter said judges are looking not only for performance and technical skill, but whether contestants are actually having fun.
“It’s more about that energy you’re bringing out to us,” he said.
The contest raises money for Giordano Dance Chicago’s “Jazz Dance/Science & Health” outreach program, which helps teach health and wellness to students at underserved public schools.
“We teach the students – 4th, 5th graders – about the body systems,” Carter said. “We’re teaching them how to do their pulse. We’re talking to them about the skeletal, the muscular, all of those various body systems, and how it relates to dance.”
The program also teaches kids about healthy eating habits.
“So often, kids come back to us and say, by the end of the program, I’ve replaced my afternoon sweet with an apple, or something that maybe perhaps is a healthier choice that was not presented to them before our program,” Carter said.
Tickets for the event at Park West are sold out, but the competition will be live-streamed for the first time this year at giordanodance.org.