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Chicago Dancers United's Dance for Life Welcomes 4,000 to Millennium Park


From a combination of contributions and sponsorships, Dance for Life raised more than $250,000—exceeding its expanded fundraising goal—to support The Dancers’ Fund.

Chicago Dancers United's Dance for Life Welcomes 4,000 to Millennium Park

Chicago Dancers United, which supports the health and wellness of Chicago's professional dance community, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its primary annual fundraiser, Dance for Life, with a return to live performance August 26 on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage in Millennium Park. For the first time in the event's history, admission was free.

From a combination of contributions and sponsorships, Dance for Life raised more than $250,000-exceeding its expanded fundraising goal-to support The Dancers' Fund, which provides financial support to any member of Chicago's professional dance community diagnosed with a critical health need or requiring assistance with health and wellness expenses. Nearly 4,000 people viewed the performance from Millennium Park's bowl seating and Great Lawn.

The complete lineup of companies included Danceworks Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Movement Revolution Dance Crew, PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, South Chicago Dance Theatre, Trinity Irish Dance Company, and Visceral Dance Chicago. The program also included a dance performance on film by Winifred Haun & Dancers.

Randy Duncan, who choreographed As One, a world premiere finale with original music by Ira Antelis, dedicated the work to longtime Dance for Life supporter Harriet Ross, which included a video tribute honoring her 30 years of service to artists in the Chicago dance community.

"For three decades, Dance for Life has brought Chicago dance performers and enthusiasts together for an evening of unparalleled support," said CDU Vice President Julie Burman Kaplan on a video during the performance. "So many in our professional dance family have found themselves without medical insurance or putting off much-needed mental health services, dental work, or covering their insurance premiums. CDU is here to help."

"We strive to be united in our cause to take care of one another, our dancers, our choreographers, our lighting designers and stage managers, our directors and educators-all who make up this amazing technicolor dance community" said CDU President Michael Anderson. "Our biggest challenge after 30 years is the realization that the fund is underutilized. We need everyone's help to get the word out about The Dancers' Fund. It is easy to apply, and we have support to provide!"

Co-chairs for the Dance for Life 30th Anniversary Celebration were Jennifer Edgcomb, Mark Ferguson Gomez, and Tom Ferguson Gomez. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was Honorary Guest Chair. Optum was the Presenting Sponsor of Dance for Life. Fred Eychaner, Paula and Tim Friedman, and Barbara Kipper were Lead Sponsors. On August 19, a week prior to the main event, CDU board members, supporters, funders, and artists gathered for a "Warm-up" event featuring a sneak preview of Duncan's finale.

Each year, Dance for Life showcases the city's unique variety of dance traditions and styles by bringing together professional dance companies and dancers from throughout Chicago, who unite to support their peers by generously donating their time, energy, and artistry. Throughout its history, Dance for Life has presented 43 Chicago-based professional dance companies representing a variety of genres, sizes, and histories and numerous choreographers, artists, and designers. Additional beneficiaries of Dance for Life are AIDS Foundation Chicago and American Cancer Society.

The mission of Chicago Dancers United is to foster the health and wellness of Chicago's professional dance community by providing financial support through The Dancers' Fund for preventative health care and critical medical needs.

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