Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-30
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Dance for Life continues to celebrate life, honoring those who have passed
by Aaron Hunt
2018-08-15

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


In the darkest days of the 1980s, Chicago's dance community was gamely pirouetting through a Giselle-mist insufficiently shrouding the HIV/AIDS tragedy, dancers involuntarily reaching for partners who could never lift them again. There was no ignoring the unrestful spirits brushing past in the corridors, no shutting out dreams of dances that would never spring from soul-to-stage. The dust of the fallen co-mingled with the rosin glimmering on every dance floor.

But as a tide of protest against a studied, willful governmental ignorance washed over the pointed toes of artists, Chicago's dance community clasped hands and voted with their bodies. With a goal of raising money for for HIV/AIDS education and care for those struggling to pay for treatment, dancers Keith Elliott, Harriet Ross and Todd Kiech began the conversation that would become Dance For Life.

This year's Dance for Life ( DFL ) is Aug. 18, beginning with a 5 p.m. gala at Chicago's Hilton, and continuing with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Auditorium Theatre. In addition to being a fund-raiser, the annual event is a showcase of artists who are trained not to be at contest with each other, but rather to fight their own bodies, making them better today than the story the mirror told them yesterday.

Going rogue

Keith Elliott and Harriet Ross were both with Joseph Holmes Dance Theatre when they launched Dance for Life in 1992—roughly seven years after their company's namesake and founder died of AIDS-related causes. They were joined by Todd Kiech, then something of a "rogue ballerina," and a dancer/choreographer known for innovative works that defied tidy categorization. Their efforts yielded the first DFL in 1992, when AIDS was seen as a death sentence and resources for the afflicted were few. The mainstream press was treating the pandemic as a joke. Under Ronald Reagan, the White House never so much as acknowledged the plague's existence.

Over the past 26 years, DFL has raised more than $5.5 million, partnering with companies clouding Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and the Joffrey Ballet. The annual concert is now one of the city's most glittering social events, replete with star-studded, pre-show gala.

This year's DFL features artists from Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet, Hanna Brictson and Dancers, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Chicago Dance Crash and Nomi Dance Company as well as a finale by internationally lauded acclaimed choreographer Randy Duncan. Beneficiaries are the Dancers' Fund and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Begin again: Mothers, sons and rebirth

Each year, newer companies apply to spice the DFL punch with their kinetic storytelling and picture-painting. This year, Nomi Dance Chicago earned a coveted first-time slot. Nomi's style is eclectic and accessible, their company ethic firmly collaborative. That aesthetic explains much about how their DFL piece "Begin Again" ( by Joshua Blake Carter ) came to the evening's program.

"[Carter] reached out to me in 2014; he was setting out as a young choreographer," Nomi's artistic director Laura Kariotis said. "I had heard good things about him, great stuff about his classwork and certainly [I] had seen him perform and loved his beauty onstage. He sent me video of a couple of pieces of his work and I said, 'Yes, let's do it!" There was an instant rapport with him and the company and the two of us and I thought, 'this doesn't always happen.' There was an incredibly positive energy."

For Carter, "Begin Again" was deeply personal.

"[M]y parents were getting a divorce after 33 years of marriage and my mom was on this new path, this new, renewed life for her," Carter said. "In the midst of the piece I turned off the music and I said to the dancers, 'We're creating a piece about my mom.' I think we've created a piece about her journey and a women's journey, the journey of my mom working hard and still coming home and cooking every night.

"I remember being a kid and my parents separating and then getting back together. I saw this struggle she went through my entire life, and then I saw a moving picture of a woman who had taken her life back," Carter said. "For me it was really a personal statement of love for my mother, but also a reflection on women and women's rights in our country."

The 27-minute piece is "grueling and challenging but perfect," said Kariotis. "It [is] a great celebration of the company and of women, and which is just so �ppropos of what's going on in today's culture."

Welcome to the jumble

This year's DFL also includes Duncan's "Adroit." Duncan was onboard with DFL from the start, taking leadership of Joseph Holmes Dance after Holmes died in 1986. His work with DFL made his see another opportunity for Chicago's dancers.

"I thought to myself, wow, it would really be something if we had a dancer from each of those companies get together and do a creative piece as the [DFL] finale," he said. Organizers loved the idea. Duncan began tapping dancers from each company to help create a spectacular closer for the concert.

"It really pulls those dancers who are used to doing the contemporary modern or classical ballet to a different sort of style," Duncan said. "It's spell-binding to watch them cheering each other on. Even though they didn't know each other before, it's become this family atmosphere. It's infectious."

As we tiptoe through a time when HIV/AIDS is not necessarily a death sentence, Dance For Life funds are being donated to other areas of need. There s no shortage of them: This Is a community where any injury can put one of its family on the sidelines with no income and overwhelming emotional stress. Still, DFL remembers its roots. Even as the Duncan and Carter pieces celebrate rather than grieve, today's DFL dancemakers move through a singular jumble of feelings, a fingertip's breath away from those missing and mourned.

For more on Dance for Life, visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org/shows/danceforlife2018/.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Auditorium commissions Michelle Dorrance work for Trinity Irish Dance Company 2019-10-11 - ( CHICAGO, IL — The Auditorium Theatre announces the commission of American Traffic, a new work for Trinity Irish Dance Company ( TIDC ...


Gay News

Ooh La La Burlesque & Variety Show to benefit Center on Addison 2019-09-18 - Chicago, IL — We are thrilled to announce our upcoming fundraising event for Center on Addison, the social and residential center for LGBTQ ...


Gay News

Chicago performers 'Dance for Life' in annual showcase 2019-08-21 - Patrons of the arts gathered Aug. 17 in the South Loop for the 28th Dance for Life benefit performance. Dancers from six different ...


Gay News

'Doing Fine' dance event Aug. 22-Sept. 8 2019-08-06 - Culminating a year-long research process, Joanna Furnans will premiere Doing Fine—a new full-length dance performance over three weekends Aug. 22-Sept. 8. All performances ...


Gay News

Dance event 'Rampage' in Chicago on Aug. 11 2019-08-06 - Rival Productions ( Milwaukee ) and CircuitMom Productions ( Chicago ) are collaborating to present "Rampage"—a new performance and dance event dedicated to ...


Gay News

New Dance for Life director named 2019-08-06 - Fewer than three weeks before Dance for Life is slated to take place, the organization announced the appointment of Kesha M Pate as ...


Gay News

'Dance Divas' Aug. 4-5 at Baton's new site 2019-07-24 - Dance for Life Chicago is presenting Dance Divas "Bright Lights, Big Cities" a party and performance Sunday, August 4 at 6 p.m. and ...


Gay News

Details for 'Dance for Life' set 2019-06-17 - Dance for Life—which mobilizes Chicago's dance community by raising funds through dance—announced updated program information for its annual benefit performance, taking place Saturday, ...


Gay News

SUMMER DANCE FEATURE Ballet to boogie: Summer dance in Chicago 2019-05-21 - Over the last 35 years, Chicago has developed into one helluva dance town, and things don't slow down in the summer as some ...


Gay News

Pose, series focusing on ball culture, begins season June 11 2019-05-02 - Pose is a drama spotlighting the legends, icons and ferocious house mothers of New York's underground ball culture, a movement that first gained ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.