By Raymond Ward, Chicago Crusader
25th ANNIVERSARY: After 25 years of raising funds to support individuals in the Dance community dealing with a serious illness, the one-night-only annual benefit fundraiser Dance for Life grows into a year-long organization under the umbrella of Chicago Dancers United (CDU). In addition to Dance for Life, celebrating a momentous Anniversary in 2016, CDU will oversee two other major initiatives including The Dancer’s Fund and the CDU Awareness Initiative. Having helped thousands of individuals since the inception of Dance for Life, CDU will carry on the mission of bringing Chicago’s Dance Community together to help one another in times of need.
Dance for Life
“Chicago Dancers United aims to continue the legacy of Dance for Life while broadening its efforts as a year-long organization,” said CDU Executive Director Anthony Guerrero. “Through all of our initiatives, CDU intends to increase the amount of support it is able to give to the dance community and carry on the mission of helping those who may not be able to get the help they need otherwise.”
In an effort to shed light on the HIV/AIDS epidemic that hit Chicago 25 years ago, and to raise money for loved ones affected with the disease, dancer Keith Elliot founded Dance for Life in 1991. Under the new organization of CDU, Dance for Life will continue to be the annual benefit dance concert showcasing the city’s unique diversity of talent, dance traditions and styles by bringing together world-renowned Chicago dance companies on the same stage for one-night-only. Funds raised will continue to assist the AIDS Foundation of Chicago as well as other organizations dedicated to serious health issues.
The Dancer’s Fund
Established in 1994, The Dancer’s Fund provides financial assistance to Chicago-based dance community professionals whose primary source of income is derived by serving the dance community who are dealing with critical health issues that affect their ability to work. The fund offers assistance for housing, utilities, insurance, medication, travel and more. Initially established in response to the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic affecting the dance community, the Fund has now expanded to support various critical health issues. Part of the proceeds from Dance for Life will go directly to The Dancers Fund.
The Chicago Dancers United Awareness Initiative
The CDU Awareness Initiative works to build the next generation of dancers and philanthropists by engaging both high school and college level youth through internships, volunteering and programs while helping them create their own benefit dance concerts.
Through this initiative, CDU is able to reach hundreds of students across the Chicagoland area including, but not limited to Dance for Life; The Next Generation at Wheeling High School, Dance for Life benefit concert at and Art for Life at Northern Illinois University.