Dancers’ careers are notoriously brief and catch as catch can. Add HIV to the ensemble and you have a community of artists doing some very high balancing without a bar. For more than a decade, Chicago-based Dance for Life has helped not just with pricey prescriptions and doctors’ visits, but even phone bills and flights—with no application form and often no notice.

Four years ago, dancer-choreographer Gary Abbott, positive since 1989, was stranded in Kansas with pneumonia. “The hospital didn’t know how to treat me,” he says. A friend phoned Dance for Life, and when Abbott regained consciousness, he was on a private plane bound for lifesaving treatment. Abbott repaid the favor last year, when he and his company performed a benefit for the fund. “The response was overwhelming,” he says. “It was a huge honor. They’ve done a lot for me.”

On August 25, the group’s annual fundraiser features The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and a world premiere by choreographer Randy Duncan (Save the Last Dance). Call 773.388.8997 for info