A record-breaking number of more than 2,200 guests arrived at the Dance for Life benefit performance at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Aug. 15.
The awe-inspiring performance, featuring seven of Chicago’s top dance companies, grossed more than $335,000 to support the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Dancer’s Fund.
“Dance for Life remains the only annual opportunity for the incredibly talented, world-renowned professional dancers of Chicago to unite artistically to help those in their own community and the greater Chicago area affected by HIV/AIDS and other critical health issues,” said Anthony Guerrero, Dance for Life’s director.
This year’s performance was preceded by a gala reception in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago, where guests enjoyed a variety of savory and sweet appetizers and refreshing cocktails. Guests also tried their luck in the annual raffles to win one of three different travel and dance packages. Prizes included round-trip Southwest plane tickets, dance classes, tickets to the Sesame Street Studio Tour, and much more.
After the reception, shuttle buses were provided for the dance enthusiasts to the Auditorium Theatre for the unique performance, featuring the hilarious and talented Joey Bland and Tim Mason of The Second City as emcees. In between the dances, the actors entertained the audience with jokes and showed video footage of them attempting to learn how to dance.
The show opened with the graceful Joffrey Ballet, who performed an excerpt from “Viva Vivaldi”. The dancers displayed crisp and clean choreography while the joyful music from the classic composer filled the auditorium.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago had the house in awe with its two contrasting numbers. The first was “Second to Last”, which showcased elegant dancers gliding across the floor. The second number, “Wicked Heart” was from its collaboration with The Second City’s “The Art of Falling”, which featured a comical duet between a man and his blow-up doll.
Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s toe-tapping number “In the Beginning” was unique because the dancers had no soundtrack to go with their performance – the only thing the audience could hear was the blend of different rhythms from their tap shoes.
Act I closed with Giordano Dance Chicago’s jazzy arrangement of “Feelin’ Good Sweet”, which featured sultry, Fosse-style dance moves to an original arrangement of “Get Happy” and incidental music.
C5 opened Act II with “Garland Suite”, featuring the nostalgic music of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. Dancers performed on five large swings wearing gowns and tuxedos to keep the performance lighthearted while channeling Garland’s spirit.
After C5 left the stage, the emcees drew the raffle tickets while the artists of LEVELdance danced to various uplifting tunes that matched the “lucky” theme.
Same Planet Different World was next with “To Have and To Hold,” a jaw-dropping, mesmerizing spectacle of tumbling and rolling on and off rows of long wooden benches.
River North Dance Chicago impressed the audience with its strong yet vulnerable choreography in excerpts from “In the End”. The dancers were only wearing briefs, so every single movement stood out.
To close the show, renowned choreographer Randy Duncan brought down the house with the passionate finale “Stand By Me,” dedicated in memory of choreographer Paul Christiano, who passed away this year. This was the first time Duncan held open auditions for the finale, so there were many enthusiastic and fresh new faces onstage.
Dance for Life Chicago