The flagship fundraiser of Chicago Dancers United (CDU), Dance for Life, returns to a live, in-person format in its 30th edition. Dance for Life will take place Aug. 26 in Millennium Park. Established in 1991 as a response to the AIDS epidemic's devastating toll on Chicago's dance community, Dance for Life has changed over the years, most notably with the development of Chicago Dancers United as an umbrella non-profit which manages The Dancers' Fund, Dance for Life's primary beneficiary. As advocacy and research increased for those with HIV-AIDS, The Dancers Fund expanded its reach, providing grants for anyone in the dance field—including retired dancers, technicians and designers, dance teachers, accompanists and more—facing chronic or critical health issues. In 2020, The Dancers' Fund once again loosened its parameters to support general health and wellness among Chicago's dance community. CDU presented Dance for Life digitally last year due to the pandemic.
For dance fans, Dance for Life is a rare opportunity to see an exemplary array of Chicago dance companies on the same stage—this year, in the open-air Jay Pritzker Pavilion. While the event has changed significantly over the years, growing from a sold-out concert at the Organic Theatre to a filled Auditiorium Theatre plus gala at the Hilton Hotel, the headlining companies are always the same. Giordano Dance Chicago and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago have volunteered for the event since its inception; the Joffrey Ballet joined shortly after their arrival in Chicago in 1995. This year, they are joined by DanceWorks Chicago, Movement Revolution Dance Crew, South Chicago Dance Theatre and Trinity Irish Dance Company. The night is capped by another Dance for Life non-negotiable, a finale by Randy Duncan, which mingles freelance and company dancers together onstage for a celebratory romp in Duncan's signature style. For the first time ever, Dance for Life is available for free to picnickers on the lawn (reservations are required).
Chicago Dancers United presents the Dance for Life 30th Anniversary Celebration on Aug. 26 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Admission for lawn viewing is free; reserved pavillion seating will be available for a $300 minimum donation. Registration, which is required for the lawn and reserved seating, will be available later this spring. For information, click the link below or visit chicagodancersunited.org.