Last Dance: Chicago choreographer bound to wheelchair retiring

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - When Frank Chaves retires this weekend, a lot of stories will be told.

Stories of the respect, acclaim, and admiration he’s acquired over the 23 years spent as artistic director and 14 years spent as chief choreographer of the River North Dance Company.

What you won’t hear is the word “syringomyelia,” the degenerative spinal cord condition that left him in a wheelchair in 2010.

Because Frank’s story isn’t about what happens when life changes. It’s about what happens when it doesn’t.

It’s the beginning of the end for Frank Chaves.

But today isn’t about mourning what’s ending – it’s about celebrating what happened.

And for frank, that’s quite a lot.
A lifelong lover of music, he started dancing late in life and dropped out of business school in order to follow his dream.

He danced professionally for 13 years before transitioning to choreography.  But he always knew he wanted to create – and create he did.

For years, he has established himself as one of the most innovative choreographers in Chicago.

An accomplishment that not even the debilitating physical repercussions of syringomyelia could take away from him.

But even the greats need to take a break.

Chronic pain as a result of the disease has prevented Chaves from being able to commit to the role full time, though he still plans to continue to choreograph occasional dances.

But on Saturday night, no one will be talking about why he’s slowing down. They’ll be talking about how he never did.