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Dancers Continue Taking Steps to Fight AIDS

Benefit: Seventh annual concert Saturday in Riverside will feature world premieres and a healthy dose of Orange County talent.

February 16, 1996|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jo Dierdorff, director of dance at Riverside Community College, hopes the reason for hosting her annual "Dancers for Life" program--the AIDS epidemic--will disappear.

"When it comes to having an annual event, you always think of something like a fund-raiser for scholarships or something like that," Dierdorff said recently. "This is one of those things you wish you didn't have to do as an annual event."

The program, in its seventh year, benefits the Inland AIDS Project, which serves people in the San Bernardino and western Riverside area. So far, the concerts have raised more than $30,000.

The project can use the money, Dave Vandevert, its education director, said.

"We're assisting about 1,120 people right now with HIV. This time last year, we had about 950. We're also helping persons affected [indirectly]--family members, friends, partners, children.

"It's impacting more and more people. Our client load continues to grow. It doesn't look like any end is in sight."

As long as the end isn't in sight, Dierdorff and her colleagues will continue to donate their services. For the show Saturday night, the theater at the college and all of the support services, advertising and marketing are also donated.

Some people, however, don't want to help.

"There are stores whose policies are not to put up any posters, and I understand that," Dierdorff said, "but a lot of people who don't otherwise will for a benefit. So you meet that kind of graciousness and willingness.

"But I have had experiences when a person, seeing what it's for, tensed up and said, 'No, they're not going to put it up.' I never pursued the issue, trying to pin a person to a wall. But in general, the response has been very supportive."

This year's program will include premieres and other works by Benita Bike, Jude Clark-Warnisher, Tina Gerstler, Stephanie Gilliland, Scott Heinzerling, Alvin Mayes, Mehmet Sander, Fred Strickler, Christy Wyant and Frances Zappella.

Among those choreographers and dancers is a healthy representation from Orange County.

"Frances [from Placentia] has been in the concerts every year, and Jude [from Anaheim] has too," Dierdorff said. "Christy Wyant is from Orange County, and Alvin taught at Orange Coast College [in Costa Mesa]. About 10 to 12 people this year are from Orange County."

"It's really a wonderful concert to be a part of," Clark-Warnisher said. "We do have a dance community in Southern California and in Orange County, but it's hard to sense that community because we're all over the place. This is one of the events that make you aware of the community, which is nice."

* "Dancers for Life 7," a benefit for the Inland AIDS Project, takes place Saturday in the Landis Auditorium, Riverside Community College, 4800 Magnolia Ave. 8 p.m. $15; $10 students. (909) 222-8100.

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