From The AIDS FOUNDATION of CHICAGO
More than 2,000 guests relished in an evening of inspirational and poignant choreography at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s (AFC) annual Dance for Life event on August 18th, at the Auditorium Theater, raising nearly $400,000. The performance boasted six of Chicago’s top dance companies who generously donated their time and talents for one spectacular night on stage to benefit the Dancer’s Fund, which assists dancers facing life-threatening illnesses, as well as the vital services of AFC and the Women’s AIDS Project.
“The night was bursting with creative energy and supportive spirit,” said Anthony Guerrero, in his inaugural year as producer for the performance. “The overwhelming show of support from our guests is a testament to the moving, spectacular pieces given by our dance companies. We’re thrilled to share our success during our 21st year of Dance for Life with all of our staff, sponsors, partners and guests.”
Chaired by Kelly Brunick, Paula Friedman and Robert Neubert, Dance for Life began with gala reception hosted in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago, where guests savored gourmet cuisine and sipped signature cocktails by ABSOLUT Vodka. Guests mingled as they browsed the silent auction tables and prizes were raffled off.
Guests later moved to the Auditorium Theatre where Giordano Dance Chicago opened this year’s Dance for Life with an exhilarating piece titled: “Pyrokinesis,” the Greek term for fire or lightening. Passionate and fast-paced, the up-beat and energetic choreography lived up to its name, as dancers spun feverishly across the stage with abject flare and inexhaustible pirouettes.
Following Giordano’s opening piece, Dance for Life co-founder Keith Elliott welcomed guests by personally sharing his gratitude for being a part of the battle to end HIV/AIDS. As a former dancer, Elliott reminisced about his own dancing days and introduced the rest of the Dance for Life show with a single pirouette.
Luna Negra Dance Theater then took the stage with “Bate (Excerpt),” a witty performance wherein the dancers inflated and deflated their bodies with fluid movements to the sounds of a pulsing heartbeat and the airy breaths of a person inhaling and exhaling deeply. Donning black dress suits, the dancers rounded out the sinuous performance to the classic tune of “What a Difference a Day Makes.”
The Joffrey Ballet followed with a piece titled “Knowest Not,” inspired by the biblical verse Revelations 3:17. The classic and graceful movements of the dancers paired seamlessly with the somber sounds of dueling violins. The resulting performance evoked a sense of tension and raw emotion with touch of risqué woven in.
Closing out the first half of the program, award-winning choreographer Harrison McEldowney presented his energy-inducing world premiere of “Red, White & Black.” Flying through the air with ease, the all-male ensemble of dancers twirled, spun and jumped across the stage in an aerial masterpiece. Draped in graphic tees depicting words like equality, gender and race, the resounding message was clear: “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.”
To open Act Two of the evening, the incredible Ron De Jesus Dance presented “And in the endless pause they came…” Angelic voices reminiscent of a church choir filled the air as the dancers used one another as extensions of their body in an ethereal performance. Ending the piece was a sleek and sexy duet, which was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.
Next to the stage was River North Dance Chicago performing “The Good Goodbyes.” Serene and delicate, the emotional performance had the audience holding their breath. Representing relationships in the dancing community, “The Good Goodbyes” was comprised of intricate pairings of dancers whose intertwining arms and legs exuded pure passion, emotion and undeniable chemistry.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s mysterious performance “Thrice” followed, with dancers maneuvering through a smoky abyss. Wrapped in white and flowing garments, the dancers appeared to float across the stage through poignant and somber choreography.
To capture the spirit of the entire evening in the final act, renowned choreographer Randy Duncan shared the world premiere of “From One to Many.” A celebration of unity, life and triumph over adversity, the dancers leapt to the rhythmic African drumbeat of original music by Andy Mitran, an Emmy Award-winning musician and composer.
Founded by Keith Elliott, Gail Kalver, Todd Kiech, Danny Kopelson and Harriet Ross, Dance for Life has evolved from a small, grassroots event into the Midwest’s largest performing arts fundraiser for HIV/AIDS. Over the past 21 years, Dance for Life has raised more than $4 million in the fight against HIV/AIDS; showcased Chicago’s top professional dance companies; financially established a fund that provides assistance to dancers living with HIV/AIDS; helped to support and produce five spin-off pre-event; and helped raise money for many of Chicago’s leading AIDS organizations.