Jay Franke, an accomplished professional dancer, now brings the gift of dance to the entire Chicago community in his current role as Co-Artistic Director of Chicago Dancing Festival. A native of Oklahoma, Franke graduated from the Julliard School and has danced with highly regarded dance companies such as the Twyla Tharp Dance Company (NYC), The 58 Group, Lyric Opera Ballet Chicago (Chicago), and most recently Hubbard Street Dance Company (Chicago) touring the globe bringing his gift of dance.
Franke was diagnosed at age 30 with type 1 diabetes while on tour, soon after his diagnosis Franke sought out the care of Dr. Lou Philipson and the Kovler team.
“It was an unexpected diagnosis and was challenging with performances producing adrenaline creating high blood sugars,” said Franke. “With the help of Dr. Philipson and Amy Hess-Fischl, RD, CDE, I was able to continue to dance. Their ongoing care and support has been very comforting, especially in managing this new disease when I was first diagnosed.”
Six years ago, Franke and internationally renowned choreographer and Chicago native Lar Lubovitch created the Chicago Dance Festival to promote the finest of dance to Chicago. Franke continued to juggle professional dancing in Lubovitch’s dance company while serving as Co-Artistic Director and four years ago made the decision retire as a dancer and focus his attention full time to the festival.
In addition to Franke’s amazing professional accomplishments, Franke is one of the founding members of Kovler Diabetes Center’s Leadership Board. His philanthropic generosity has resulted in Kovler expanding community presence impacting the Chicago community, care for patients living with diabetes and research efforts.
“What I love about this board is that we are an engaged group that comes together with the help of Peggy (Hasenauer, Executive Director), each of us brings something special and unique to the table,” said Franke. “I am very committed to Kovler’s great story reaching the broader Chicago community. We have made great strides, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that people are aware of Kovler’s resources and the care and research.”
For more information on the Chicago Dance Festival visit www.chicagodancingfestival.com, this year’s festival will take place on August 20-25, presenting a wide variety of free dance, showcasing Chicago’s finest.