Dance for Life Chicago is arguably the Chicago dance community’s single most significant event of the year. Unique in its scope, it serves as a model for the arts community throughout the country, uniting the very highest levels of artistic achievement with the very noblest of humanitarian endeavors in its annual showcase of what makes Chicago dance, and Chicago’s dancers, so very special.

The annual benefit dance concert presenting and showcasing the city’s unique diversity of talent, dance traditions and styles brings together the incredibly talented, world-renowned professional dancers of Chicago for one night on the same stage.

The dance community unites artistically to support those affected by critical health issues by generously donating their time, energy and artistry to the cause. Funds raised assist various organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS and other health issues as well as The Dancers’ Fund.

August Highlight: Dance for Life Chicago 
(August 19, 7:30 PM, Auditorium Theatre)

There’s no doubt this year’s roster of Dance For Life’s three resident companies and first-time participants will launch the next quarter century with a powerhouse program. 

Giordano Dance Chicago will reprise Randy Duncan’s magnificent "Can’t Take This Away," (1997), featuring 15 dancers and set to music performed live by The Bournés Family, a veritable choreographic preview of Paradise.

Hubbard Street performs two works. Nacho Duato's lyrical "Jardi Tancat" (1983) for three couples is set to Catalan music recorded by vocalist María del Mar Bonet. Catalonian for “Closed Garden,” the piece reveals the movements of sowing, planting and threshing of the barren Catalonian land. Crystal Pite’s "Joy" heart-stopping solo, "A Picture of You Falling" is danced by retiring Hubbard Street company member, Jason Horton, celebrating his tenth season with Hubbard Street and performing in Dance For Life.

The Joffrey Ballet (photo at top) performs an excerpt from Alexander Ekman’s "Joy" (2017) to music by Django Django. Commissioned by The Joffrey in association with Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley, the piece received its world premiere in April 2017 during The Joffrey’s spring program at the Auditorium Theatre.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project/Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater/Trinity Irish Dance will present a triptych showcase of three duets, "In the Meantime," which converge in a culminating segment.

Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography performs "In Tongues," an abstract work loosely based on the quirky, over-the-top stage persona of Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne set to the band’s music. 

Visceral Dance Chicago

Visceral Dance Chicago performs "Ruff Celts" (2016), choreographed by Marguerite Donlon, who, inspired by the dancers’ personalities, uses a mixed score of contemporary Irish and German composers in this dynamic, dark-humored work.

Topping off the program with Chicago dance solidarity, a world premier choreographed by Randy Duncan unites dancers from Dance For Life, along with independent artists and dancers from other

Chicago companies in a concert finale with original music by Andy Mitran.

Spicing up entr’acte repartee with improvisational high jinx will be the effervescent Carisa Barreca of The Second City, serving as emcee for the event.

For tickets, click on “Upcoming Events.” For details on how you can help, go to


Additional August Events & Performances in Chicago:

Chicago Dance Crash

The Bricklayers Of Oz/Chicago Dance Crash
(July 28-August 5; Ruth Page Center, 8 PM) 

The Hip Hop Origin Story of the Yellow Brick Road, with narration and original lyrics by "The Bricklayers of Oz"rapper Al Tapper (photo above). Who sweeps up the confetti in Munchkinland? As the flagship production of Crash's 15th Season, ‘Bricklayers’ is an action-packed street tale of the lesser known laborers within The Land of Oz. Crash's hip hop fusion style tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the East and her power-hungry plan to coax others into building her a magical road followed quickly by the realization and uprising of an otherwise ignored group of people. This family-appropriate production uses lollipops and breakdancing as an allegory for modern day politics and what it's like growing up as a "Second-Class Citizen of Paradise.”


Dance in the Parks
(August 3, Rutherford Memorial Park, 6 PM; August 4, Kenwood Community Park, 6 PM; August 5, Boundary Park, 6 PM) 

Dance in the Parks brings FREE professional dance concerts to outdoor venues in the parks. In its 9th season, the all-ages show of modern, jazz, contemporary, and tap works is created and performed by professional Chicago artists. Each show features guest youth performers from neighborhood dance programs and ticket giveaways. Dance in the Parks is presented as part of Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks initiative.


A Fool's Journey: Misfit Circus
(Chopin Theatre, August 3-5 and 10-12, 8 PM; August 6 and 13, 5 PM) 

Beginning with the fool’s card in the tarot deck, this circus cabaret style show exposes our unconscious thoughts and desires. “A Fool’s Journey” is a new experimental contemporary circus cabaret that digs into the symbolism and revelatory nature of the tarot deck. Featuring live music by Bret Koontz, the show takes the viewer though a wide variety of acts (tightwire, acrobatics, hand balancing, juggling and more) that investigate the tarot’s major symbols and themes.  A Fool’s Journey is a premiere Misfit Circus production, a circus collaborative founded by Molly Plunk (clown, wire walker) and Natalie Abell (hand balancing, aerial rope).


Body Passages
(August 19, 8pm, CDE Auditorium, 1650 W. Foster Ave and August 20, 7pm at Uncommon Ground,1401 W. Devon Ave)

Body Passages  is a dance and poetry project between Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) and Poetry Center of Chicago (PCC). “Body Passages” is a new performance series curated by Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) and Poetry Center of Chicago (PCC) that encourages the crossing of artists and audiences. CDE and PCC have paired local professional dancers and poets to create their own artist-led projects fusing language and movement. Paired artists participate in on-going conversations and exchanges with other pairs to explore fluidity, form, and rhythm as they relate to a variety of topics. Performances discuss life stages, womanhood, relationships, nature, and more. The two performances at the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Auditorium and Uncommon Ground are a translation of these conversational exchanges.


Set Free 
(August 24-27, Links Hall, 7 PM) 

Set Free presents “Better Versions of Prayers,” choreographed by J’Sun Howard and performed by J’Sun Howard, Dedrick “Deddy Bank” Gray & William Harris. “Better Versions of Prayers” makes a space for black boy joy.  A poetic testimony that miracles erupt at any moment. Through self-portraits, ecstasy, and forms of floating–disappearing, hollowing, and possession–this work also flirts with notions of divine radical presence and how it holyficates.

“Evergreen,” composed and improvised by Katie Ernst & Jessica Marasa, takes inspiration from trees whose leaves remain year round.  With this lifegiving strategy at heart, bassist Katie Ernst and Jessica Marasa use their improvisational interests to practice the possibility of continuity.  This possibility employs the process increasing one’s willingness to trust the life in each moment as it arises, remains and passes away.


“Dance Village,” Summer Dance-Off Celebration 
(August 26, Wrigley Square in Millennium Park, 12 noon-6 PM) 

In collaboration with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Audience Architects presents Dance Village, a summer celebration highlighting various forms of dance through neighborhood competitions, with finale performances at a day-long dance festival in Millennium Park! Free and open to the pubic.


This feature is brought to you by, the definitive guide to Chicago's dance scene and your source for a full calendar of dance events and performances in the city. Read the complete selection of dance highlights for August, including an interview about Dance for Life with Phil Reynolds (newly appointed executive director of Chicago Dancers United) at