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The Cure

'Elastic Heart' Choreographer Hosts Private Fundraiser for a Potential HIV Vaccine

'Elastic Heart' Choreographer Hosts Private Fundraiser for a Potential HIV Vaccine


Featuring writhing dancers enacting the battle between HIV and white blood cells, Ryan Heffington's private dance performance raised money for a potential HIV vaccine that supporters keep calling a cure. 

Ryan Heffington, the award-winning choreographer behind Sia’s “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” music videos, recently used his passion for intense dance to cast light on a different subject: the lesser-known but potentially game-changing abzyme vaccine, which researchers say could end HIV.

The Los Angeles-based choreographer, whose work Buzzfeed called "equal parts elegant and monstrous," held a show at a private home in California's Hollywood Hills. Among the exclusive and star-studded list of 150 attendees were HIV-positive Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis (above), actress Parker Posey, and comedian Bruce Vilanch. 

The event, Hostage Live, was a fundrasier for the Abzyne Research Foundation's potential HIV vaccine, for which the organization expects to begin phase 1 human trials in 2016.

Heffington's show featured dancers writhing onstage in a gritty depiction of the immune system battle between the HIV-virus and white blood cells. The dance was scored by composer Lucian Piane. Piane, who has also collaborated with drag megastar RuPaul, is known as the mastermind behind viral celebritiy videos like the "Bill O'Reilly Flips Out Dance Remix" and  "Bale Out: RevoLucian's Christian Bale Remix." 

The Abzyme Research Foundation claims that abzymes, special antibodies found in people with autoimmune diseases, can be “developed to prevent and treat HIV and other intractable diseases,” according to the organization's website. “The efficiency of abzyme technology could permit treatments with smaller doses of medicines at lower costs than are possible today.” 

Calling the treatment a potential cure, Zachary Barnett, the founder of the foundation, told fundraiser attendees, “We’re here tonight to kick off a year long plan of programming to bring attention to this cure, using the arts and entertainment industry.”

Event organizers say an upcoming video about their work will feature film from the Hostage Live event and narration by Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore, who recently starred in the emotional lesbian drama Freeheld, which hit theaters this month. 

“I’m proud to support these new initiatives toward a real cure," said retired Olympic swimmer Louganis (who recently spoke with Plus magazine about the new documentary on his life, Back on Board), introducing the show. "Especially through the artistic medium of dance which has always been a passion of mine.” 

Until the promised video is released check out this short promo video of Hostage Live featuring Heffington rehearsing the rigorous dance routine below. 


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