Despite the challenges of the past year, Chicago’s dance sector has remained resilient and is making plans to return to the studio and the stage. Chicago Dancers United (CDU) has stepped up to provide more support than ever to offset the devastating effects of the pandemic and provide a bridge back to stability for the community it serves.
This year, CDU’s primary annual fundraiser, Dance for Life, returns live and in person after airing virtually in 2020. “Last year’s virtual retrospective, including a premiere finale by Hanna Brictson, brought us together during a time of seclusion. We were able to exceed our fundraising goal because our community rose to the call,” says CDU president Michael Anderson, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer. “We are very excited to come back live as we celebrate our 30th anniversary.”
CDU’s mission 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 for Chicago dance industry professionals. Any practicing or retired Chicago dance professional—a dancer, choreographer, instructor, technician, administrator and more—is eligible for support from CDU. To emphasize this mission, CDU launched an e-newsletter with articles spotlighting health and wellness themes written by professionals in the arts, medical and wellness fields.
“With the pandemic, we needed to do more, since so many in our community had lost their livelihoods,” Anderson says. “We chose to expand our grantmaking criteria to allow for support of immediate medical expenses, such as insurance premiums and medical bills. Recently our board decided to make this form of support permanent. We now provide short-term critical health need grants as well as general health and wellness grants.”
Dance for Life takes place on Aug. 26 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and includes works by such visionary companies as 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, with a finale choreographed by Randy Duncan.
For more information and to apply to The Dancers’ Fund, click the organization page below or visit chicagodancersunited.org. Information including advice, tips and resources are also available on CDU’s social media pages.