Dance for Life Gala: One Singular Sensation





With 3,100 guests celebrating Dance for Life at its recent 28th annual performance at the Auditorium Theatre recently, the organization created in response to the HIVAIDS crisis proved it celebrates Chicago dance like no other.  The over $300,000 raised broke records as well for the Dancers’ Fund, which assists members of the dance community facing critical care issues.


Co-chairs Tom Ferguson Gomez and Mark Ferguson Gomez moved the evening’s reception to after the performance this year with great results. Over 650 guests mingled and dined with the evening’s dancers who had donated their time, energy and artistry to support their fellow dancers.


Dance for Life Co-Chairs Tom Ferguson Gomez (L) and Mark Ferguson Gomez (Photo by Philamonjaro)

During the performance, Robert Neubert, board president of Chicago Dancers United, the organization that produces Dance for Life, introduced new executive director Kesha M Pate. Together, they welcomed AIDS Foundation of Chicago President and CEO John Peller and American Cancer Society Executive Director Peter Steele to the stage to announce a new partnership. The three organizations will work together to increase philanthropic support for the Dance for Life fundraiser and the Dancers’ Fund’s ability to provide financial assistance to dance professionals in times of need.


American Cancer Society Executive Director Peter Steele (L) and Executive Vice President Wayne White (Photo by Philamonjaro)

Neubert told the audience:

“Dance for Life began in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, in partnership with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Throughout the years, we have increased our support to include all critical health issues, and this partnership with the American Cancer Society is a great next step in expanding our ability to fulfill our mission here in Chicago. We could not be more excited to have ACS join the Dance for Life family.”


American Cancer Society’s Jody Phillips, senior manager for distinguished events, and Chris Way, development manager for distinguished events (Photo by Philamonjaro)

The performance featured the Dance for Life partner dance companies, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Joffrey Ballet which were joined this year by Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Stone Soup Rhythms, and Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater, all presenting short and vibrant pieces.  A first look at a work in tribute to the late dancer, choreographer and instructor Claire Bataille, choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams and a finale choreographed by Randy Duncan, using dancers from all around Chicago, capped a tribute to our dance community like only Dance for Life can present.


Robyn Mineko Williams and Artists perform an excerpt from Echo Mine choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams, dedicated to Claire Bataille
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater performs an excerpt from Mar de Fuego/Sea of Fire, choreographed by Carlos Rodriguez, dedicated to Founder Dame Libby Komaiko
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Stone Soup Rhythms performs MOVEMENT 11 choreographed by Dani Borak
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs an excerpt from Decadance/Chicago choreographed by Ohad Naharin
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Chicago Dance Crash performs Leap of Faith choreographed by Jessica Deahr in collaboration with the dancers
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Randy Duncan’s world premiere finale Release
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


The Joffrey Ballet performs Bells choreographed by Yuri Possokhov
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Giordano Dance Chicago performs SOUL choreographed by Ray Leeper
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2019


Guests dancing in the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Craig Shultz (L) and Chicago Dancers United board member Brian W. Smuts (Photo by Philamonjaro)

Diane and Richard Weinberg (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Harrison McEldowney (L) and Dance for Life Director Todd Clark (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater Artistic Director Irma Suárez Ruiz and Executive and Associate Artistic Director Jorge Pérez (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton and Pam Crutchfield (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Dance for Life Project Manager Cameron Heinze (L) and Chicago Dancers United board member Brian W. Smuts (Photo by Philamonjaro)

Auditorium Theatre Chief Marketing Officer Colleen Flanigan and Chicago Dancers United Director Emeritus Kevin C. McGirr (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Chicago Dancers United board member Paula Friedman and Tim Friedman (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Dancers José Torres of Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Kristi Licera of Chicago Dance Crash (Photo by Philamonjaro)

Dancer Maeghan McHale (L), Giordano Dance Chicago Executive Director Michael McStraw and Ashley Rockwood (Photo by Philamonjaro)


Chicago Dancers United board members (L–R) Patti S. Eylar, Sandi Cooksey and Julie Burman Kaplan (Photo by Philamonjaro)


(L–R) Giordano II Director and Operations Manager Joshua Blake Carter, Andy Flaherty, Executive Director Michael McStraw, Artistic Director Nan Giordano and Artistic Programs Manager Cesar Salinas, all of Giordano Dance Chicago (Photo by Philamonjaro)


(L–R) Bob Horton, Jim Perry and Chicago House CEO Michael Herman (Photo by Philamonjaro)


(L–R) Auditorium Theatre Interim Chief Executive Officer and current Chief Financial Officer Rachel Freund, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival Producer Melissa Mallinson, See Chicago Dance Interim Executive Director Surinder Martignetti and Project Bound Dance Co-Artistic Director Emily Lohr (Photo by Philamonjaro)


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