Keith Elliot

Wed. January 23, 2008 12:00 AM
by Jason P. Freeman

A Dream Come True

Keith Elliot doesn't get down for getting down's sake. When donning his dancing shoes, he pirouettes with purpose. He choreographs for a cause. He dances for life.

Seventeen years after Elliot's inception of an annual dance performance fundraiser, christened Dance for Life, Elliot's production has benefited HIV/AIDS care with over three million dollars of support. DFL helped launch six other HIV/AIDS awareness fundraisers, provided production assistance to four other cities creating similar showcase events and started the Dance for Life fund to provide fiscal support to Chicago dancers living with HIV/AIDS.

Then, he founded another dance-focused fundraiser with Test Positive Aware Network and DFL co-producer Danny Kopelson.

"Danny Kopelson and I joked forever that we should create a Dance for Life that had very little clothing," Elliot says, and that's what they did. TPAN's first annual burlesque-styled revue, Chicago Takes Off, sold out last year.

"Chicago Takes Off was first fashioned after Broadway Bares which is Equity Fights AIDS's annual strip fundraiser. With that as our inspiration, we turned our show into a Las Vegas-type [variety show] with high energy dancing that leads into an element of strip tease. This is all done with fun, flirtation and professionalism. [TPAN, Kopelson and I] lovingly refer to Chicago Takes Off as charity at its sexiest."

This year, CTO's theme is "Under A Big Top." Taking place at Park West, 322 W. Armitage, on Saturday February 9, curtain call is at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. for the two-show event (

"Imagine going to a circus and all the characters are doing a fun and sexy strip tease for you," describes Elliot of this year's CTO theme. "This isn't a circus for the kids!"

"Elliot's efforts were honored by Chicago magazine, naming him Chicagoan of the year 2007. When not producing dance shows, Elliot currently works for TPAN AIDSCARE and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Of his two year relationship with his partner David Vasquez, Elliot says, "I'm very lucky."