Aaron Alexander, formerly Aaron Gordon, is an original cast member of the Chicago company of Hamilton: An American Musical. He started his career in the arts as the choreographer and artistic director of Electriq Dance, an award-winning jazzfunk dance company based out of Seattle. After branching out to other forms of performing once moving to Los Angeles, he became part of the boyband, INNOVATE, appeared on the reality show, FAKE OFF, danced in a Lindsey Stirling music video as well as several national ad campaigns, performed on the Kennedy Center Honors, and originated the role of Young Aaron/Jean Claude in the Pre-Broadway run of First Wives Club. Aaron is currently working on his debut EP, scheduled for release in late 2018.
After earning a B.A. in dance and business at the University of Alabama, Marcus Alford choreographed, taught, danced and toured with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago for a decade. Mr. Alford has been on the faculty of every major dance organization including D.M.A., D.E.A., Internationale Tanz Werkstatt, Southeastern Regional Ballet Association, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and many others. Marcus’ high energy jazz classes have also inspired students at the Festival of the World in Hungary, The American College Dance Festival, The International Ballet Competition, Jackson, MS, Hubbard Street Dance Studio, Chicago and the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 1986, Marcus founded “JAZZ ON TAP” (the Metro Atlanta Jazz and Tap Dance Festival) which has grown to be one of the largest dance events of its kind in the U.S. featuring master classes and performances involving 2,500 dancers annually. Marcus has performed in and/or choreographed many award winning industrials and TV/video projects. With Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Marcus danced “The Rehearsal”, an Emmy Award winner. His concert choreography can be seen on companies throughout the dance world. Marcus continues to teach and choreograph for Sarasota Ballet and in Germany at First Floor Tanz Studio and Company. Marcus looks forward to returning every summer to his roots to teach at the Jazz Intensive at Gus Giordano Dance School, it is always the highlight of his year!
José Amor is a New York City based actor, singer, and dancer. Along with multiple film and television roles, Amor has appeared in numerous theater performances including Chicago, The Wizard of Oz and Evita. He also starred as the spirit of Nicholas Nickelby in the Off-Broadway musical Nicolas Nickelby The Musical. Amor was on Broadway in Chicago's hit musical Hamilton at the PrivateBank Theatre where he played the character Samuel Seabury, and is a featured dancer in the ensemble. Amor is thrilled to teach at GUS and loves to share his Broadway experience with the dancers.
Amber Ardolino currently resides in New York City and is a cast member for the new Broadway show Head Over Heels. Amber previously lived in Chicago and was a cast member in Hamilton Chicago. She loved teaching master classes at GUS and cannot wait to come back to visit!
Nebi Berhane originally hails from Concord, Ma. He began his training in Atlanta, GA and continued his training at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) and at University Of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA.) Since then Berhane has had the opportunity to work with Dance Theater of Harlem, The Atlanta Ballet, Ballet West, and Elements Contemporary Ballet. He has also performed with The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, The Goodman Theatre/The Huntington Theatre (The Jungle Book, world premiere), and most recently with the San Francisco Opera (Showboat). He has taught both nationally and internationally and loves working with all ages. Berhane's goal is for each student to connect their body and mind while developing respect and appreciation for what they naturally bring to the table.
Clifton Keefer Brown was born and raised in Chicago, where he began his dance studies at Ellis-Du Boulay ballet school. He received his BFA in dance from the University of Iowa under the guidance of Francois Martinique and his MFA from the University of Arizona under the guidance of James Clouser and Melissa Lowe. Brown’s professional career has been Ballet Arizona, Grand Rapids Ballet. He has performed with The Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, and pursued a European career performing with DjazzX Modern Dance Company in Den Hagg, Holland and Friedrichstad Palast in Berlin, Germany. In 1997, as a principal dancer he joined L'Ensemble Da Micha Van Hoecke in Rosignano, Italy. The ensemble tours Italy, Russia and Spain and performs annually at the Ravenna Festival and Theatre Massimo in Palermo, Italy. In 2008, he was invited by the American Studies Association of Turkey as a guest artist to perform and present a lecture on the African American Influence on Classical Ballet. Brown was the former Dance Program Coordinator/Associate Professor at Western Kentucky University and is the Advisor of Higher Education and Professional Schools for Bellamoxi dance convention.
Cornelius Carter is Director of Dance at The University of Alabama, and Artistic Director of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. Carter has been awarded the National Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Washington, D.C. He has received the award for the 2001-2002 Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award by the Alabama Alumni Association. Mr. Carter attended the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis, MO and received his MFA in Dance from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Carter has danced with Cleo Robinson Parker Dance Ensemble, and studied at The Ailey School in New York on scholarship. Carter has been the Artistic Director of the first contemporary dance company and school in Reykjavík, Iceland, Faculty member at the American Ballet Theatre, American Dance Festival (Moscow & Ekaterinburg, Russia & Seoul, Korea), Bates Dance Festival and Harvard Summer Dance Festival (Dean of Students) and at the American Choreographers Showcase where he presented and performed his choreography in France, Holland, Austria, Vienna and Lithuania. He was also appointed faculty member at Broadway Dance and currently serves as a faculty in residence. He has choreographed works at the Victoria School of the Arts in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Gus Giordano Dance School in Chicago; the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City; and the National High School Dance Festival.
Matt Crowle is a Chicago based, Jeff Award winning actor and choreographer whose notable local credits include Drury Lane Oakbrook, Porchlight Music Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Paramount Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. For many years, he lived and worked in New York City, performing on and off Broadway, and has toured the country from coast to coast, tap dancing with Tommy Tune. He is also the resident theatre tap instructor at the American Rhythm Center. Crowle's class structure is designed to simulate a professional theatre tap call, giving students a chance to push themselves to absorb choreography quickly and perform it with a strong sense of confidence and a quality of ease. The choreographic style of class routines is hugely influenced by the MGM movie-musical canon and by such legendary performers as Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Gene Nelson, Ray Bolger, and Eleanor Powell. The footwork is fun, the music is delightful, and the atmosphere is positive and welcoming. For more, visit: MattCrowle.com
Edward GIORDANO Curran
Since Edward was a child, he has looked up to his grandfather’s passion for his School and teaching. Edward loved playing with swords with his grandfather, and still has a wooden sword Gus brought back to him from one of his travels to Germany to teach. Eager to learn business, Edward became an Administrative Assistant at School. Being surrounded by the students, he has found that he loves working with children. He aspires to become a middle school teacher. Edward works full-time at CPS and is honored to continue his grandfather's legacy.
sarah GIORDANO curran
Being a member of the Giordano family, Sarah Curran has been surrounded by her grandfather’s legacy her entire life. While attending dance events and performances for her grandfather and being involved at the School, Curran fell in love with jazz dance. She danced at the School as a GUS Company Member from age 7 until she graduated high school. Currently, she in her Senior year at the University of Alabama studying dance as her major and communications as her minor. She has been featured in pieces at the University of Alabama choreographed by Lawrence Jackson, Rebecca Salzer, and Blair Andersen. Curran choreographed and performed this past summer at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland with Yonder Dance Company. Curran is on faculty at the School when she is home for summer and for breaks, teaching as much as she can. She loves teaching children and observing how they grow in the studio! She is honored to continue her grandfather’s legacy with her mother & two siblings.
Anna Czajun received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University. Originally trained as a pianist, yet choosing dance as her profession, Ms. Czajun has performed with numerous companies in her native Chicago, notably the Chicago Moving Company, the Joel Hall Dancers, the Arve Connection and the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble. In an addition to her career as a performer, Ms. Czajun was the recipient of an Illinois Art Council Individual Artist Award, for choreography. She is a well-know instructor, whose training in modern dance and ballet has been extensive in Chicago and New York. Ms. Czajun is currently Inaside Chicago Dance's Ballet Mistress.
Tuni Deignan is honored to have worked with companies including Minnesota Jazz Dance Company, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre. As a principal dancer she worked with jazz dance legend Gus Giordano, Clarence Teeters, Harriet Ross and Randy Duncan. Deignan helped create the Fairmount Dance Theatre Company and served as Artistic Director. She also opened T Move studio, where she has been teaching her unique blend of jazz, lyrical and theatrical style dance as well as her own hybrid of barre fitness classes. Deignan is thrilled to be teaching at Gus Giordano Dance School.
Morgan DiFonzo was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, originally studying at California Dance Theatre directly under one of Gus Giordano’s original company members, Laura Klein. Klein was one of the greatest influences on DiFonzo’s development as a dancer. She then moved to Chicago where she earned her BFA in Musical Theatre with a dance emphasis at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. She is trained in many styles of dance but her favorites include jaz musical theatre, tap and hip hop. DiFonzo got her passion for teaching and performing while assisting her mother, Kim Morgan Greene, protégé of Bob Fosse, on numerous projects. She currently resides in Chicago, where she continues to train her dance, voice, and acting abilities. DiFonzo is so excited and honored to be a part of the Gus Giordano family!
Originally from Portland, OR, Mandie Evans grew up dancing and trained at Fired-Up Dance Academy located in Tigard, OR. Evans found her passion in dance at a young age and trained competitively in the Northwest area for seven years. She continued training throughout college, where she graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2017. While in college, Evans got the opportunity to be in a multitude of faculty and student concerts performing works by, Louis Kavouras, Richard Havey, James Jeon, Stephanie Martinez, and Rachel Berman. She was also given the opportunity to travel with the UNLV dance department and perform in places such as South Korea, Turks and Caicos Island, and also Germany. Evans has also been given recognition and praise with her choreography, as her works have been performed internationally in both Turks and Caicos and Kiel, Germany. In 2014, Evans was given the privilege to come dance on scholarship at Gus Giordano Dance School, where she not only fell in love with Giordano Jazz, but also the city of Chicago. Evans is now a Performing Apprentice with Alluvion Dance Chicago, as well as a certified Pilates instructor at Amplified Pilates. Evans is beyond thrilled to be back at the place where it all started at Gus Giordano Dance School, and to share her passion for dance and her love for teaching.
John Michael FiUmara
John Michael Fiumara was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA where he studied many different forms of dance at the Abby Lee Dance Company. He has also trained at the Rock School in Philadelphia, Point Park University, and grew up on the competition circuit with NYCDA, JUMP, NUVO, WCDE, and more. Since then, he has had the pleasure of working, and being in shows like Newsies (Broadway), Matilda (First National Tour), West Side Story (Papermill Playhouse), Radio City Xmas Spectacular, and now resides in Chicago performing in Hamilton. Always thankful, pleased, and honored to be teaching at the legendary Gus Giordano’s Dance School!
SARAH FORD HARDY
Sarah Ford Hardy is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and is a graduate of the Youth Performing Arts School. She trained at Joel Hall Dance Center, Columbia College Chicago, the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, CA, and Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. She has performed with numerous dance companies such as Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company, Midwest Dance Collective, DanceWerks Productions, The Joel Hall Dancers, and The JADD Co. She presently resides in Illinois, where she is training, teaching, and choreographing all over the Chicagoland and Detroit Metropolitan Areas. Ford loves teaching at Gus Giordano Dance School.
Ricardo Garcia began his training at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, where he earned a BA in Dance. Upon graduating, he joined the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, under the direction of founder Jeraldine Blunden and subsequently Kevin Ward. At DCDC, he had the honor to work with acclaimed choreographers Bill T. Jones, Doug Verone, Donald McKayle, Ronald K. Brown and Dwight Rhoden, among others. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Josie Award for Outstanding Male Dancer of the Year in 2002. Garcia has also performed with The Joffrey Ballet, Illinois Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Rhythm in Shoes, Walt Disney World and most recently with Luna Negra Dance Theater. He has conducted classes throughout the US and Russia and his choreography have been performed by Luna Negra Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, South Dayton Dance Theater, Stivers School for the Arts and Piel Morena Contemporary Dance. Garcia also holds a Master's of Science in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path College and serves as the Co-Artistic Director of the Blue Lake International Ballet Ensemble.
Laura Gates grew up in the Chicago suburbs and holds degrees in Dance and Psychology from the University of Iowa. While at Iowa, she was privileged to have worked with many gifted artists including: Francoise Martinet, David Berkey, Randy Duncan, and Mauricio Wainrot. Upon returning to Chicago after graduation, she performed locally with Swallow Cliff Dance Company, Concert Dance Inc., and several independent choreographers. In 1999, Ms. Gates joined Thodos Dance Chicago and is now their rehearsal director and ballet mistress. Highlights of her six year performance tenure with TDC include performing in Dance for Life, meeting and working with Ann Reinking, and touring with the company to Turkey. Gates is passionate about teaching dance and has taught in the Chicago area for over 15 years. She has been an adjudicator for the State Wide Dance Competition and on guest faculty at Northeastern Illinois University and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters.
Elijah Gibson was introduced to the arts through tap dance at an early age while attending San Diego School for the Performing Arts. He later continued his dancer training at Sam Houston State University where he graduated with a B.F.A. in Performance and Choreography. In college, Gibson performed with Spectrum Dance Company, Raven Dance Project, and the City Dance Company of Houston. In September 1999, Gibson moved to Chicago to study as an apprentice with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. A year later he joined Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago’s first company and performed with the company for eight years. He has been on the teaching faculty of ACDFA, Jazz Dance World Congress, Dance Masters of Wisconsin, CNADM, and is a judge for Cathy Roe’s Ultimate Dance Competition circuit. He has had the pleasure of working with and performing works by Tony Powell, Christopher Huggins, Gus Giordano, Liz Imperio, Mia Michaels, Jon Lehrer, and Randy Duncan. Gibson’s work can be seen performed by many local Chicago companies as well as universities across the country.
Fury Gold over thirty years of experience as a featured soloist, dancer, and teacher in both New York and Chicago. August 2001 Dance Magazine listed Gold as "one of the best in their field" and her students have gone to dance in major companies in the United States and Europe. In addition, she works regularly with figure skaters on the National and Olympic teams. Gold is honored that she had known both Gus and Peg as a student before going to New York and as a member of the faculty, sitting next to Gus adjudicating at auditions. Gold is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT), a program developed by Marie Walton-Mahon, ARAD RAD RTS of Australia, now taught throughout the world to safely strengthen, stretch and enhance dance training. Gold has also been awarded a license, which reflects a commitment to rigorous continuing education in this syllabus.
Mike Gosney, Artistic Director and co-founder of Elements Ballet, has been teaching and privately coaching ballet for over 20 years. In addition to training many of the dancers in Elements Ballet, his students have been accepted into prestigious programs and schools such as American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School, The Juilliard School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Academy, LINES Ballet, Tisch School of the Arts, and many others. Mike is on faculty at Gus Giordano Dance School, Extensions Dance Center, Dance Center Evanston, and Steps Dance Center, and has previously taught at Visceral Dance Center, Chicago Dance Academy, Joel Hall Dance Center, Lou Conte Dance Center, DancenterNorth, Eastern Illinois University, and College of Lake County. Mr. Gosney has orchestrated events for Evanston Arts Week and DanceArt Outreach Program, and formerly served as Artistic Director of Koslynn Dance Academy and SASS Productions. At age 15, Mike had his first exposure to jazz dance at Gus Giordano Dance School and had the privilege of taking several classes from Gus himself! Mike was able to expand his dance vocabulary through the world of jazz and gained a deeper appreciation for his classical ballet training while in Gus’ classes. Mike spent the rest of his professional career taking classes at GUS, and has integrated elements of the Giordano technique in his ballet work. He is thrilled to be at GUS again teaching this season!
Mitchell Haley, born and raised in Harrodsburg, Kentucky; started his dance training at the age of 19 at Morehead State University. He ended up graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and a Dance minor. After graduating Mitchell continued his education at Western Kentucky University where he received his Bachelors in Dance. Mitchell is in his 6th season with Inaside and his 3rd year as a company member. He has been very blessed to be a resident choreographer for the company and now the program manager. Mitchell also performs with B.I.S.I. Chicago Dance Company, and he has performed with Ardent Dance Company and Jayson Tisa Dance Company. Along with dancing and teaching all throughout the Chicago area, Mitchell is also a Yoga instructor and teaches Megaformer/ Pilates at Studio Lagree. Mitchell loves to teach the dancers at GUS!
Marcus Hardy is a native of North Carolina, where he began his dance training at East Carolina University. During his time at ECU he worked with many established choreographers such as John Magnus, Jennifer Archibald, Mark Hines, and Frank Chaves. After graduating in 2012, with a BFA in Dance Performance, Hardy moved to Chicago where he has performed as a guest artist with SueMo Dance Company and Chicago Dance Crash and as a company member with Inaside Chicago Dance. Hardy is inspired by the hard work and dedication he sees in the students at GUS.
Kate Jablonski is the owner and founder of Beyond Words Dance Center, the home of Beyond Words, The Kate Jablonski Statement, Camp Kate and Go Beyond Performance Group. Kate began her professional career training in New York City as a member of Broadway Dance Center’s Professional Program. In 2007, Kate began using YouTube as a platform to share her choreography. While becoming a worldwide phenomenon, Kate had been given the opportunity to teach and choreograph internationally for dance companies in Canada, England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy (Erice Danza). In 2009, Kate received the prestigious Gold Leo’s Award through Jazz Dance World Congress. Meanwhile, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2011, EMI Records produced Brit Award winner, Laura Marling’s music video “I Was Just A Card”. Alongside Brian Lipchik, Kate co-directed and choreographed the video featuring members of Beyond Words. Also in 2011, Kate was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine in Zachary Whittenburg’s article, “Piece by Piece: Tips for First-Time Choreographers”. In 2013, Kate was highlighted in Dance Teacher Magazine article, “A New Generation – Nine Studio Owners Under 40” as the youngest entrepreneur on the list. Performances by Beyond Words and The Statement earned Kate the title of Dance Chicago’s Choreographer of the Year in 2013. Dance Chicago then sponsored Kate’s production of “Tabula Rasa” at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago in May of 2014. Kate continues to inspire young dancers and choreographers around the world with movement that transcends all barriers.
Laura Klein credits her mentor, the amazing Gus Giordano, with her success as both a dance teacher, choreographer, and mentor of young dancers. Laura has appeared in both the National and International Companies of the Broadway show "A Chorus Line" and on Broadway in "Carmelina". She is currently the assistant to the director of Pacific Festival Ballet Company, and a teacher and choreographer for the California Dance Theatre. Klein has taught master classes at several national dance conventions, choreographed many award-winning competition numbers on both coasts, and is also a 30+ year member of Dance Masters of America. Klein is most proud of her former students who are dancing professionally throughout the world.
Courtney Kozlowski grew up in Bartlett, IL and started dancing at a young age at Dance Motions. She furthered her training in Chicago at Ruth Page, Gus Giordano Dance School, and Lou Conte. She was also accepted into the Ballet Met summer program and was a cast member in the Joffrey Nutcracker as a child. Kozlowski was accepted as a Gus Giordano Junior Company Member for 2 years and then was offered a full scholarship to study there. Kozlowski was a Performing Apprentice with Inaside Chicago Dance for three years. She has been able to dance, as well as choreograph pieces for Dance Chicago. Kozlowski has been teaching and choreographing for numerous studios in Chicagoland and has won multiple choreography awards for her pieces. Other performances include Chicago Takes Off, The Milwaukee Arts Festival, Diva's Live, and Weird Al Yankovic, and she has been in a music video for Kara Kesselring. Kozlowski is currently performing with The Prince Experience.
Bridget Krouse grew up in Champagne, IL where she began her dance training. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona in 2013. After graduating, Krouse moved to Los Angeles and was immediately hired to dance in the “Barbie Live” The Musical Tour across Asia. Krouse was honored to be a part of the Royal Flux Company, which was recently featured on the NBC television show, World of Dance. She has appeared in numerous music videos, dance films, performed professionally in L.A., and appeared as a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance. She enjoys teaching all dance styles to dancers of all ages. Krouse recently moved to Chicago and is honored to be a part of the Gus Giordano Dance School faculty!
Jimmy Locust was an original principal dancer for Gus Giordano who has since gone on to work with superstars such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Quincy Jones and Debbie Allen. He has appeared in music videos and films and has performed at the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Mr. Locust was one of the head choreographers for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and was nominated for an American Choreography Award in 2001 for his work on Warner Brothers’ television show Nikki. Locust worked on the Justin Bieber Tour in 2010 and as choreographer for the CW Television Network’s The Next with hosts John Rich, Joe Jonas, Nelly and Gloria Estefan. Locust has also choreographed commercials for both international and national markets, including Sanyo (Japan) with Nicholas Cage and most recently, Rapid Advance (U.S.) Locust has designed and written dance curricula for numerous community and private education programs and has been a studio owner, master teacher and choreographer in Connecticut for over ten years. He recently founded Locust Dance Academy in South Florida, which performs at community events such as Hoops 4 Hopeand the Breast Cancer Foundation’s charity gala. He is Founder and Director of Harmony Nation, an anti-bullying educational program that performs at schools. He also directs Locust Contemporary Dance Works, a youth company with performances throughout the year culminating in a New York City concert, as well as Hip Hop's Finestand FOCUS Hip Hop pre-professional groups. Locust’s multi-faceted lifestyle is chronicled in his reality show Locust Under 5’.
Eilleen Mallary has been a Culture Shock® Chicago dancer for the past 11 years and also serves as Executive Director. She trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and is a former company member with Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet, where she performed in productions of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Dracula and Coppélia. She also had the honor of serving as the variations assistant to prima ballerina Janie Parker, the first American dancer to win a gold medal in the USA IBC. With Culture Shock, she has performed extensively throughout Chicago, as well as touring the US and Canada. She assisted with and performed a flash mob for Pillsbury and was an OfficeMax elf in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012. She can be seen on film in the "Get Hybrid" mattress commercial and has performed for Adidas-Lollapalooza, Coca Cola and Nike’s “Let’s Move” campaign launch with First Lady Michelle Obama. Her most recent commercial choreography includes flash mobs for Bacardi, The Thrillist, and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. Her students and choreography have won numerous awards and recognition at competitions and the city's annual dance festival, Dance Chicago. Mallary is a passionate and dedicated teacher who strives to inspire and create positive change through dance. She is ecstatic to be teaching her 2nd season at GUS!
Kesha Milenkovic is originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She started dancing at the age of nine at Motion Mania Dance Center. For many summers she attended Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive, Bates Dance Festival and many more. She also got the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center under the direction of Debbie Allen in two productions called “Dreams & Pearl”. Kesha attended Columbia College Chicago and got her Bachelor of Arts in Dance. After graduation Kesha was on the scholarship program at Gus Giordano Dance School and later on accepted in Gus Giordano second company. In 2010 Kesha got hired as a dancer/vocalist for the Broadway musical Chicago on the largest cruise ship in the world “Allure Of The Seas”. In 2011 a dancer in Hairspray on “Oasis Of The Seas”. Kesha has also trained in ballroom and aerial work. She is now on faculty at North Shore School Of Dance in Highland Park, IL and director to North Shore Repertory Dance Ensemble. Kesha passion has always been to perform but she also loves teaching and choreographing.
Taylor Mitchell hales from the deep south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Drawing inspiration from his life, surroundings, and world renown choreographers, Taylor has crafted a unique artistry with which he fuses a variety of dance expressions, focused on the blend of jazz, modern, and contemporary styles. While in college. Taylor received a scholarship from Gus Giordano Dance School and attended the GUS College/Pro Intensive Program. He graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona, where he received the “Creative Achievement Award” for various works of choreography. Taylor has performed around the U.S. as well as internationally in numerous cities in Germany and Italy. He performed in Gus Giordano Dance School’s 60th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago. Taylor aspires to become an international freelance choreographer, while being rooted in the Chicagoland area.
From Evanston, IL, Julie Nakagawa was a featured dancer with Christopher D’Amboise’s Off Center Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, and Twyla Tharp Dance. She has also performed in Ruth Page’s Nutcracker and Die Fledermaus. Julie joined the staff of Lou Conte Dance Studio in January 1994 and rose to the position of Associate Director. In addition, she led Hubbard Street 2 from its inception in 1997 through February 2007 as the artistic director of the second company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, nurturing young dancers and establishing the National Choreographic Competition to provide creative opportunities for emerging dance makers. A sought-after teacher, Julie has taught classes for dance studios, university programs, and companies, locally, nationally, and internationally. She has served as a member and officer of the Board of Trustees of Dance/USA, has participated as a mentor in multiple pairings through Dance/USA’s Institute for Leadership Training, has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a member of the Citizens Committee for ChiArts. The Chicago Foundation for Women’s Asian American Leadership Council has honored Julie for her work in the creative arts.
Pattie Obey is a committed professional bringing her experience, creativity, passion, and humor to the teaching profession. A Chicago native and the daughter of a dancer, Obey began her professional career touring internationally with Gus Giordano’s Jazz Dance Chicago. Her performance credits both in the USA and abroad includes Broadway musicals, films and television. Her personal style is greatly influenced by her mentor Gus Giordano, former Hubbard Street artistic director Lou Conte, jazz master Matt Mattox and her own elegant and powerful femininity. She is a master teacher for both Dance Educators of America and Dance Masters of America. Obey has taught for colleges, universities, dance companies and eminent dance studios in 36 states and 16 countries. Dance Magazine proclaims Obey as being “Dance Teacher Extraordinaire”, and most recently Dance Studio Life Magazine as “The Leading Lady in Jazz”. In 1992, she was the first woman to teach at the Jazz Dance World Congress and has been on the roster of master teachers ever since. She is also the recipient of the “2000 Jazz Dance World Congress Award” in recognition of her considerable contribution to the world of jazz dance.
Eddy Ocampo has danced with some of Chicago’s premiere dance companies as the Joel Hall Dancers, River North Chicago Dance Company and Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. As a master jazz teacher, he has taught in Europe, Mexico, Canada, the Russian Republic and throughout the U.S. Eddy was also named as one of the best jazz dance teachers in the country by Dance Spirit Magazine and has been featured in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit and Young Dancer Magazine, as well as numerous Chicago publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, The Sun Times and The Daily Herald.
A former company member of Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Christopher Perricelli has been teaching all levels of multiple dance disciplines since 1997, and is an accomplished performing artist, choreographer, and digital media producer. He has presented master classes around the world at conventions, universities, and schools for dance, and has assisted in choreographing, staging, and casting various dance-related projects. Perricelli’s credits include: Broadway tours of West Side Story, Footloose, and Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Nike, McDonald’s, MGM, Jive Records, Nigel Lythgoe Productions, Motorola, Wrigley’s, Kohls, Captian Morgan, Malibu Carribean Rum, Dance Masters of America, Dance Educators of America, Gus Giordano Dance School, Joffrey Academy of Dance, Crunch!, Equinox Fitness, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and Northwestern University.
Matt Pospeshil grew up dancing, singing and performing theater in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and got his start dancing professionally with Especially Tap Chicago. He furthered his education at Western Michigan University; got a BA in Dance, and performed Musical Theater. Pospeshil danced with Inaside Chicago Dance & began to manage his family’s dance studio in Buffalo Grove, IL which has now evolved into Pospeshil Performing Arts Academy of Dance, Voice, Music and Acting. Matt had the pleasure to work with Chicago Human Rhythm Project's BAM! and Chicago Tap Theatre. Pospeshil's convention teaching and competition judging credits include Dance Masters of America and Dreamstar Dance Competition. He also directs a youth dance company, the Heart of Dance Ensemble, based out PPA. He also produces an annual concert of Song & Dance called Fuse & Explode, presented by his ensemble, Troubadour Dance Theatre.
Susan Quinn trained under the famed Gus Giordano, becoming a Faculty member, Principal Dancer with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and later it's Associate Artistic Director. Quinn owned a professional school and became founding co-director of First City Dance Theatre, the only jazz company funded by the state of Florida. Her choreography opened the 1st Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago. Invited to be the first jazz choreographer of the festival Cours des Capucins in Luxemburg, Quinn's choreography has been performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. to the Amsterdam School of the Arts in Amsterdam, Holland. A Master Teacher for D.M.A and D.E.A, she is the director of the 10th Annual Arizona Jazz Dance Showcase, with former guest artists Joe Tremaine, Sherry Zunker-Dow, and Mia Michaels. Quinn was honored with the 2005 Jazz Dance Congress Award for her contributions in jazz dance.
Anthony Raimondi was former scholarship student at Gus Giordano Dance School! He began his dance training at the age of ten at Horizons Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY and in 2011 he graduated from the University of Arizona with a BFA in Dance and a BS in Business Marketing. Immediately following graduation, Raimondi began working with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and performed as Alejandro in the live musical tribute tour Bad Romance. Raimondi had the chance to compete with the Top 150 dancers on So You Think You Can Dance“Vegas Week” Season 6 and has performed most recently in the Emmy Award winning series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” He has recently helped choreograph productions of Newsies and West Side Story, industrials featuring artists like Jaime Foxx and has also contributed work to fundraisers for the incredible organization Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids. Favorite credits include both the national and international tours of the Broadway classic West Side Story as a swing, Dance Captain, and also an assistant choreographer helping set the most recent touring production of the show.
Isabel Ramirez graduated this May from Oklahoma City University with a major in Dance Performance. During college she was a part of the school's American Spirit Dance Company and also participated, then eventually choreographed, for the Student Choreography Show. In addition to studying dance in Oklahoma, Ramirez has studied in Italy, L.A, New York City, and Chicago. Ramirez is thrilled to be back home in Chicago entering the performing and teaching circuit. Gus Giordano Dance School has been a home to her since she was a Junior in high school. She is beyond grateful to dance and teach with such a great community.
Kirby Reed is the Artistic Director of Ascension/The Kirby Reed Project and founder of House of Ascension. Reed was picked twice for the Top Jazz Classes in Chicago out of ten must-take classes in the city in Dance Spirit Magazine January 2005 and was also voted Best Hip Hop teacher by Chicago Magazine (Best of Chicago) August 2003. He has worked in various capacities in the dance community, as a dancer, choreographer and instructor and is widely respected and loved throughout Chicagoland. Reed and Gus Giordano taught together at conventions throughout the U.S.
Cora Schimke is a native of De Soto, KS. She began dancing at Miller Marley at age 3 and was a member of the Miller Marley Entertainers until she graduated high school. Schimke is a graduate from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Human Biology. While at KU, Schimke danced with the University Dance Company where she was able to work with many guest artists, including, Regina Klenjoski, Lane Gifford, Autumn Eckman, Talia Beck, Meggi Sweeney, Carl Flink, and Jennifer Hart. She has trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Contemporary, African Jazz, Classical East Indian and Flamenco. She was fortunate to receive the Hamburg Scholarship, the Fine Arts Scholarship, the Elizabeth Sherbon Award, and the Jump Start Award from KU. Schimke has taught at numerous studios in the Kansas City area and in Chicago. Schimke is currently residing in Chicago and is a company member with Inaside Chicago Dance. Schimke enjoys watching students grow to their potential and is thrilled to be on faculty at Gus Giordano Dance School!
You might know Matthew Shaffer from his television work on the top Netflix original series, Wet Hot American Summer, or from his notable advice on Dance Moms, or perhaps you recognize him from his short-lived role as a Pottery Barn sales associate. After attending the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts, Matthew continued his professional career as a principal dancer for Giordano Dance Chicago. Highlighted credits include: Cold Case, Jackass Number Two, The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, Hansel & Gretel at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Earth to America with Jason Alexander, Broadway Cares with Rosie O’Donnell, Disney XD’s Kickin’ It, Bunheads, he appears along side Adam Levine on Broad City, and most recently you can catch Matthew on the breakout show Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Matthew is the co-founder of A Group Production, LLC where he serves as executive producer; and has performed in, choreographed, directed or produced over 40 projects between Broadway, Film and Television. As a choreographer, Shaffer’s work has been performed by A-Lister’s like Ben Stiller, Rachel Platten (Fight Song), Megan Mullally, Armie Hammer, and Rebel Wilson. For the past 20 years, Matthew has worked as a dance educator at leading performing arts conservatories and conventions across the United States and Europe including Gus Giordano Dance School and Broadway Dance Center, and is currently an adjunct teacher at Studio School in Los Angeles, CA.
Cara Shear graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) in Nacogdoches, TX in December 2016. While at SFA, she performed as a member of the Repertory Dance Company and Dimensions Contemporary Ballet, was the Fundraising Coordinator for SFA Dancers Against Cancer, and was a Creative Movement and Jazz/Contemporary instructor at the Gobel School of Dance. Shear was thrilled to be on scholarship during the College/Pro Intensive at Gus Giordano Dance School in 2016. She loved Chicago while she was on scholarship and decided to move to the city. Her first year in Chicago, she performed with Tiffany Lawson Dance in their 5th season, and traveled to New York to expand her knowledge and love for Limón Modern dance technique. Shear is very grateful for the opportunity to teach, assist and learn from the Directors and Master teachers more about Gus and his Legacy every day.
Richard Smith’s approach to teaching and directing is focused on alignment, manipulation of the body, strength and origination of movement. He believes that only the constant work to master technique and the understanding of fundamentals of jazz will allow the dancer to tap into the emotional connection of dance. Smith trained extensively with Gus Giordano and became his personal teaching assistant at conventions and master classes all over the U.S. His respect and love of what Gus created in the dance world is apparent in all of his classes.
Laura Thurston studied dance at Northern Dance Theatre of Northern Illinois University and at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago where she graduated with a BA in dance performance in 2005. She has developed dance programs and curriculum for various dance schools in the Chicago land area, and was on faculty for Dance Masters of Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010. She began performing professionally in Chicago in 2004, and has performed with Chicago Dance Crash, Corpo Dance Company, Inc., and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre. Thurston co-founded Piel Morena Contemporary Dance in 2009. Thurston's extensive dance knowledge is passed on to her students in all of her classes.
Natalie Tursi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Hofstra University. She trained with Gus beginning at age 13 as she was selected to be one of the first "Power Pak" dancers with Starpower. She credits Gus for teaching her about strength, power, and dancing full out. Tursi has danced with the following companies: Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, Aerial Dance Chicago, Level One, and currently performs with Dance in The Parks. She appeared on the cover of Dance Spirit Magazine. Tursi is dedicated to all of her students and loves seeing them master new skills. She is a creative choreographer and performer and receives her inspiration from her students.
Cole Vernon graduated with a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona. He has apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and is now a member of Level One. Vernon has also worked with San Francisco Ballet, Long Beach Ballet, and various artists at the Springboard Danse Montreal project (including Sylvain Emard, Sidra Bell, and Azure Barton) Vernon is well versed in all styles of dance. Vernon is an excellent teacher of ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and ballroom. His versatile knowledge and love for teaching inspires students to reach their goals in a warm and enriching environment. Vernon loved being a company member for Dance Works and is currently a guest artist for Visceral.
Originally from Phoenix, AZ, Betty Weinberger has been fostering a love for dancing and performing ever since she was a child. During college Betty received a scholarship from Gus Giordano Dance School and attended the GUS College/Pro Summer Intensive. After completing her undergradtue degree at Oklahoma City University studying dance and arts administration, Betty performed on Princess Cruises with a brand new musical, working closely with Stephen Schwartz and New York creative team. She traveled to Alaska, Tahiti, Hawaii, Bora Bora , and the Mexian Baja for with months. She then moved to New York, and has since performed the the National Tour of ELF: The Musical, as well as Singin’ In The Rain and Beauty and The Beast at the Fireside Theatre in Wisconsin. Betty continues to perform and teach all over the country, sharing her passion and love for dance and musical theater!
Wolf began his studies with the Joel Hall dance center and has performed in workshops showcasing jazz, hip hop, ballet, and modern dance. He has danced and choreographed with Culture Shock for the past 16 years, performed with Elaine McLarine/Dance Chicago, and assisted in production for The Voices of Chicago for Channel 19. He has choreographed and assisted in directing both Kid Sista and Kanye West. In 2003, Wolf launched Nextlevel LLC, an agency that elevates the standard creatively cultivating sophistication and talent. In addition to choreographing and teaching, Wolf is the Regional Culinary Category Manager for Fresh Thyme Market. Wolf's goal is to unite all people through the use of the artistic process. His belief is that we are all one world united in one love, the love of creative expression shared in a positive life.
Hailey Wood grew up in Olympia, WA where she was a competitive dancer, studying ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, hip hop, contemporary, and modern. She also studied at a prestigious ballet school during her high school years. Wood graduated in 2015 with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and received the Outstanding Performer award. She was afforded the opportunities of performing in Korea, Germany, and Copenhagen. After graduation, Wood fell in love with Chicago while on scholarship at the Gus Giordano Dance School College/Pro Intensive. She is eager to start her third year teaching at GUS and her third season at Inaside Chicago Dance as a performing apprentice. Wood also has a passion for studying and teaching Pilates. She received her certification through DK Body Balancing in Las Vegas, and has furthered her education here in Chicago while teaching at Amplified Pilates Center. Being a fully-certified Pilates instructor for over 4 years, Wood sees the endless benefits of Pilates for the body with both adults and children. It has helped herself grow as an athlete, so she would love to pass that on to her students at GUS and to non-dancers. She absolutely adores all of her students at GUS and loves to see them grow as students and dancers.