The 25th anniversary of Dance for Life ( DFL ), Chicago's annual dance fundraiser raising money and awareness for HIV/AIDS, kicked off with a star-studded gala at the Hilton Grand Ballroom on Michigan Avenue.
Guests were treated to stiff cocktails and a gourmet grilled-cheese bar in addition to hugs and laughter as dancers, administrators and philanthropists from DFL's history came together for the event's silver anniversary. Among the guests were co-founders Harriet Ross and Keith Elliott, plus Dance for Life Impact Award winners Matt Hoffman and Scott Silberstein of HMS Media, a video production company that has covered the event since its inception and produced documentaries and a cable TV series promoting Chicago dance. Barbara Kipper and the Alphawood Foundation's Fred Eychaner also received DFL Impact Awards for their fundamental financial support over 25 years.
Gala attendees processed up Michigan Avenue to the Auditorium Theatre for a world-class dance performance by many of Chicago's finest. Giordano Dance Chicago got to go twice as the only dance company to perform all 25 years, showing a full-company version of Gus Giordano's trio Sing, Sing, Sing beside the more contemporary Alegria. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Visceral Dance Chicago offered excerpts from their previous seasons while The Joffrey Ballet and first-timer Chicago Dance Crash resurrected older works. In Joffrey's case, the revival of Gerald Arpino's gorgeous Round of Angels ( 1983 ) was an apt tribute, performed at the company's first DFL appearance following its move to Chicago.
Per tradition, Randy Duncan's rousing finale featured community dancers crossing company lines to dance together. World premieres capped each actDuncan's Depth of Light and an aerial dance/jazz throwback to the music of Prince by duo Harrison McEldowney and Jeremy Plummer. The length of the evening escaped notice thanks, in part, to hilarious commentary from The Second City's Carisa Barreca and Tim Mason.
This year's record-breaking Dance for Life topped 2,400 in attendance, raising $425,000 and tipping the all-time total to more than $6 million.