In a New York City apartment more than 20 years ago, two dozen dancers brainstormed what they could do to help so many of their colleagues who were battling AIDS. Denise Roberts Hurlin and Hernando Cortez, dancers with Paul Taylor Dance Company at the time, mobilized the group and ultimately created Dancers Responding to AIDS in 1991. It was the dance community’s first ongoing effort to raise awareness and money to directly help those living with AIDS.
The vitality of DRA comes from the extraordinary support of the dance community. Professional dancers from companies across the country, performing arts organizations, student dancers and dance lovers contribute to annual DRA events, like Fire Island Dance Festival, Hudson Valley Dance Festival and Dance from the Heart, audience appeals and DRA’s Dance Student Outreach Project.
Today, Dancers Responding to AIDS remains at the forefront of the performing arts community’s support efforts. DRA is a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.
Combined with the efforts of Broadway Cares, DRA has helped raise more than $285 million dollars for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses across the United States.
Funds raised by DRA and Broadway Cares are awarded as grants to more than 450 HIV/AIDS and family service organizations nationwide, including health clinics, soup kitchens, housing initiatives and more. DRA and BC/EFA also support the essential social service programs of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and The Dancers’ Resource.
Dancers Responding to AIDS received a Dance Magazine Award and New York Dance & Performance Bessie Award in recognition of its contribution to the dance community.