Dance for Life Chicago on PBS Wttw 11 on August 11

Dance for Life 

Brings Twenty Years
of Strength and Community
in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
to the Big Screen

Moving Documentary on Two-Decade Journey Premieres on WTTW-11 on Aug. 11, 10 p.m.

In its 20-year journey, the original small grassroots dance performance event, Dance for Life, has evolved to support HIV/AIDS services in Chicago and financially assist those living with HIV/AIDS within the dance community into the Midwest’s largest, must-see performance, raising nearly $175,000 annually for the cause. Now, a new, riveting documentary, which debuts on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. on WTTW 11, follows the emotional journey and shares the passion of Dance for Life in a style that can best capture its essence: dance.  
The hour-long film paints the story of Dance for Life through electrifying choreography and personal stories. Shared in one-on-one interviews with the dancers, founders and supporters, these narratives convey the significance and evolution of Dance for Life throughout the film.  It will premiere only nine days before the twentieth anniversary performance in Chicago on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway.
Produced by Emmy Award-winning HMS Media, the documentary is a poignant look at the need for renewed hope and for a cure. Chronicling the 30-year impact of HIV/AIDS in Chicago and its large dance community, the film illustrates the evolution of the fundraiser. Founders Harriet Ross, Keith Elliott, Danny Kopelson and Gail Kalver, as well as beneficiaries, choreographers and dancers recount the impact of HIV/AIDS and their desire for continued progress.

(Photographs by Sando)

Dance for Life initially empowered the dance community in Chicago to take care of itself,” said Elliott, a former dancer with Joseph Chicago Holmes Dance Theater. “The documentary empowers Chicagoans to understand the power of the HIV/AIDS movement and offers a way to get involved while experiencing the best dance the city has to offer.”
From flamenco to Fosse-style jazz, performance excerpts serve as a backdrop for the emotional, yet triumphant story of Dance for Life’s origins and its future. Participants featured in the documentary include Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and River North Chicago Dance Company.  Archival clips illustrate the event’s meteoric rise, having grown from the first sold-out performance at the former 400 seat Organic Theatre to this year’s event at the 4,000 seat Auditorium Theatre.
Dance for Life began as an effort to promote the art of dance in Chicago, while raising awareness of and supporting HIV/AIDS services in Chicago. Later, the Dance for Life Fund was formed as a program to ease the financial burden of Chicago dancers dying of complications of AIDS. As treatment for HIV/AIDS has evolved, so has the Dance for Life Fund. It now helps dancers battling any life-threatening condition to get back on their feet and continue to pursue their passion for dance. Proceeds from this year’s performance will exclusively benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Dance for Life Fund.
“The dedication of staff, dance companies and volunteers is as astounding as the level of artistry,” said Harriet Ross, co-founder of Dance for Life. “Though its purpose is practical, the performance enlightens and educates. We sincerely hope that life will continue to mirror art as survival rates improve and as Dance for Life continues to flourish.”
Dance for Life the documentary will air on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. on WTTW 11. 

The live, on-stage performance of Dance for Life will be held on Saturday, August 20 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, in Chicago. Tickets are $50-$75 for the 7:30 p.m. performance, with tickets for the 4:30 p.m. gala and performance ranging from $175-$500. Tickets are available at or by calling 312-922-5812.

Since 1992, 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-events; and helped raise money for many of Chicago’s leading AIDS organizations.