Making A Difference

Dance for Life showcase aims to aid dancers struggling to pay medical bills

Dance for Life is a one-of-a-kind annual performance and benefit event that has showcased more than 50 Chicago-based dance companies

Ren Picco Freeman

When Mackenzie King started Moonwater Dance Project five years ago, she did so, in part, to provide more stability to freelance artists. So, this year, she gladly agreed to participate in Dance for Life, an annual benefit to raise funds to help dancers with critical medical needs.  

“Arts organizations tend to have small budgets,” King said. “And if you are a young, smaller company like Moonwater, the artists are freelancers, so healthcare is not provided to them.”

King said if a dancer is injured, and unable to work, it’s reassuring to know that Chicago Dancers United, the organization that puts on Dance for Life, is there to help. 

For more than 30 years, Chicago Dancers United’s Dance for Life event has showcased more than 50 Chicago-based dance companies, with proceeds going into The Dancers’ Fund. 

Sara Schumann, board president of Chicago Dancers United, says, The Dancers' Fund came about during the AIDS epidemic when the dance community was devastated with losses. So, The AIDS Foundation Chicago partnered with the dance community to put on a benefit performance to raise funds to help those with AIDS.

“The energy is really off the charts, because the performers and those behind the scenes all know they are coming together to raise money for the people in their community," Schumann said.

Dance for Life takes place at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Auditorium Theatre. The complete lineup of artists includes BOOM CRACK! Dance Company, Chicago Tap Allstars, Giordano Dance Chicago and South Chicago Dance Theatre, Hiplet Ballerinas, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, freelance performers Joseph Massarelli and Riho Sakamoto, Moonwater Dance Project, Muntu Dance Theatre, and, for the finale, choreographer Randy Duncan’s As One, featuring 20 Chicago dancers. 

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