Celebrating the past four years of artistic ingenuity, innovation and excellence and looking ahead to a fifth, Ballet 5:8's 2016-2017 performing season includes six world premieres by two choreographers.

Ballet 5:8 is a small company - but with no small aspirations. The company's first ever performing season in 2012-2013 included a roster of just six dancers: three company artists - including now Executive Director Amy Kozol Sanderson - two apprentices, and one trainee. Under the creative direction of Artistic Director Julianna Slager, the company began striving to create, produce, and perform new works that “celebrate the exchange of ideas in the creative realm.”

During that first season, the company premiered three short works and performed wherever there was an opportunity, in venues ranging from Links Hall in Chicago to schools all over the city and suburbs. Last year, for the 2015-2016 performing season, Ballet 5:8 had eight professional dancers on contract, premiered four new works, brought an original full-length, three-act ballet back to the stage for a second year, and performed 35 times in eight states, traveling 8,000 miles.

This coming season, with a growing roster of 13 professional dancers, Ballet 5:8 will add six new works by two choreographers to its repertoire and will continue to bring Chicago-based art and artists to stages at home and across the nation. Yet, as Ballet 5:8 continues to grow, its passion remains the same: to bring joy, inspiration and open-hearted communication everywhere we go, and to add diversity and creativity to the communities we visit. 

As we celebrate this momentous fifth performing season, we are incredibly thankful for the privilege of five years of artistic ingenuity, innovation and excellence, of creativity and collaboration, and of breathtaking performances that engage audiences in genuine, meaningful discussion. It our distinct hope that, at least once this year, you will join us - sit back, take a pause from the busyness and challenges of life, and enjoy the breathtaking sights, sounds and emotions of a live Ballet 5:8 performance. 

2016-2017 Season Works

The Choreographers

Julianna Slager, Artistic Director

Ballet 5:8’s Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Julianna Rubio Slager, is originally from Spring Arbor, Michigan. She has danced with Greater Lansing Ballet, Ballet Magnificat and as a freelance artist, teacher and choreographer in the Chicago area prior to the creation of Ballet 5:8. Julianna has a great desire to contribute to the marketplace of cultural, philosophical and religious dialogue that has shaped the course of society for centuries. For this reason, she often chooses subject matter from current social issues, great literature and religious writings. She believes that our society is in need of peaceful catalysts for discussions on the deep moral and ethical topics of our day. This is what she aspires to give to the audience, a thought-provoking performance, free from the constraints and prejudices of spoken language, in order to allow the inward significance of each issue to surface.

‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ This quote, by the great philosopher Aristotle sums up my view on choreography. Dance can be reduced to a mere technical form of beats, steps and geometrically pleasing formations, in contrast art must bring out for the audience a significance that would otherwise remain veiled. It is my goal, in each of my works, to bring something to the audience that causes them to see a familiar story or thought from a new perspective. This manifests in many different forms, from narrative to abstract works, this is the common thread in my body of work.
— Julianna Slager

Caleb Mitchell, 2016-2017 Season Guest Choreographer

Ballet 5:8 Guest Choreographer Caleb Mitchell was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where he received early ballet training at the age of 16 under Rose Marie Floyd. After graduating cum laude in 1998 with a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona, Caleb joined the Houston Ballet under Ben Stevenson, O.B.E.-emeritus and later Stanton Welch, Artistic Director. During his tenure with Houston Ballet (1998-2007), Mr. Mitchell performed many featured roles in works by George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Frederick Ashton, Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., Glen Tetley, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Christopher Bruce, Ronald Hynd, Lila York, Natalie Weir, Julia Adams, Trey McIntyre, Stanton Welch, James Kudelka, and David Parsons. In 2007, Caleb was awarded a Chancellor's Distinguished Fellowship (Helen Russell Scholar) at the University Of California- Irvine. While pursuing his degree at UCI, Caleb danced in featured roles by Professor Jodie Gates (Joffery Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet) and William Forsythe.  In June 2009, Mr. Mitchell received a MFA in dance, and soon after became full-time dance faculty at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Currently, at Belhaven University, Mr. Mitchell serves as tenured Assistant Professor of Dance.  

Mr. Mitchell's guest teaching and choreographic projects include works set on Neos Dance Company, Hosannah Sacred Arts, dancers from the Houston Ballet, Houston Ballet II, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, Ad Deum Dance Company, Le Lien Ballet Theater, Masterworks Art Festival, and University of California, Irvine. He has also served as guest faculty teacher for the Cecchetti Summer International Festival at Hope College and Elvis Cirque du Soliel. During his tenure at UCI, Mr. Mitchell was Ballet Master for Professor David Allen (former National Ballet of Canada, Diamond Project), and in 2008 was awarded the Medici scholar grant to do choreographic research with world renowned choreographer Alonzo King (Lines Ballet) and Jacopo Godani (Frankfurt Ballet) for his thesis. Caleb’s recent choreographic project "Sanctuary", a world premiere, was a collaborative with world renowned choreographer Dr. Donald McKayle and performed by the Etude Dance Ensemble and the UCI Symphony Orchestra at UCI Irvine in April 2009.  Creations and guest teaching also include SERPA (2013), Adelphi University, Dance Arts Conservatory, Uptown Dance Company, Brigham Young University, and Southern Methodist University.