A Chicago Ballet Company
Ballet 5:8 is a 501-(c)-3 nonprofit arts organization based out of Chicago, Illinois. Under the creative direction of Julianna Slager, the Ballet 5:8 professional performing company is the primary basis for the organization’s pursuit of its mission: to celebrate the exchange of ideas in the creative realm, create and perform new works, and ultimately engage artists and audiences in meaningful discussion in the context of breathtaking dance performance. The company employs an average of 10 professional dancer, produces several new abstract and narrative works, and performs in Chicago and a variety of midwest cities including Jackson Michigan, Davenport Iowa, Fort Wayne Indiana, and Hopkinsville, Kentucky each season. Ballet 5:8's dance education arm, Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts, provides high-quality training to over 150 students each year through a range of classes and residency programs at two locations in Frankfort Illinois and the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.
A Creative Mission
Ballet 5:8's mission statement is made up of three key commitment statements that define the company's unique character among ballet companies and serve as the basis for everything the company does.
First, the mission of Ballet is 5:8 is to employ artistic ingenuity, innovation and excellence as we celebrate the exchange of ideas in the creative realm. This commitment leads Ballet 5:8's artistic staff to be constantly engaged in exploring the heights and depths of the possibilities within the art form of dance performance as well as to be constantly evaluating the accessibility and relevance of the work produced. This commitment also informs Ballet 5:8's pursuit of technical excellence within the art form.
Second, our ongoing commitment is to the creation and performance of new, abstract and narrative works from the unique basis of our Christian faith, and to the development and creative exploration of the dancing artists, choreographers and composers of our day. Ballet 5:8's commitment to the creation and performance of new works is an outpouring of the company's commitment to innovation and accessibility. New works have the capacity to extend the appeal of the art form of ballet to audiences beyond those who want to be entertained by a pretty but meaningless fairytale like The Nutcracker. Moreover, by committing to the creative exploration of all kinds of artists, not just the resident choreographer, Ballet 5:8 is able to engage in a collaborative style of creativity with the possibility to engage, challenge and share the work of multiple artists through each new project. Significantly, Ballet 5:8's commitment to exploring works from the basis of our Christian faith is a commitment to pursuing new works that examine and communicate thoughts, ideas and stories from a perspective rooted in the Christian faith. Though faith is the basis for Ballet 5:8's creation of performance art, the company does not confine itself to producing "Christian art," which, though meaningful in some contexts, often has a limited appeal and limited communicational value in public forums other than within strictly Christian circles.
Finally, our goal is to serve as a catalyst for genuine discussion of life and faith with audiences and artists alike, in the context of breathtaking dance performance. Ballet 5:8 believes that genuine discussion among family, friends, neighbors coworkers and others can lead to fuller lives, healthier relationships and stronger communities. As the company engages in the creation and performance of work that is relevant to the people of our time, its commitment is to always serve as a starting point for these meaningful discussions through BREATHTAKING DANCE PERFORMANCE.
The Story Behind the Name
Ballet 5:8's name was coined in a coffee shop on Chicago's near north side in 2010. The name is is a reference to a verse from Scripture: "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Ballet 5:8's name simply describes the message of hope that is the basis of the Christian faith. This message is the impetus and inspiration for all that Ballet 5:8 does as an organization and embodies the personal story of each of the artists within it.
Ballet 5:8′s focus is Chicago, third largest city in the United States. The city of Chicago, with a population of nearly 2.7 million, has a vibrant arts community and a variety of dance companies and dance venues. Ballet 5:8′s studio and rehearsal space is located in the southwest suburb of Frankfort, Illinois. Though not in the heart of the city or its neighborhoods, the studios serve as a central location for the company and for the many students in the school. Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts (in residence with the Ballet 5:8 company) attracts over 150 students each year from the city and suburban areas.
Ballet 5:8 began as an idea in 2010 and has existed officially since May 2012. Founded by former performing artists, Julianna Slager and Amy Kozol Sanderson, the company began performing with a group of six dancers and apprentices during the 2012-2103 season. Slager and Sanderson now serve as Ballet 5:8's directors and continue to pursue Ballet 5:8's mission based on a firm conviction of God's calling for the organization and its artistic exploration. Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts also came into existence during the summer of 2012 after Ballet 5:8 was able to adopt an existing Christian school that had been operating in Chicago's south suburbs since 2006.