Ballet 5:8's newest premiere, Sigao Ekklesia, is set to go onstage tonight at the [re]claimed art gallery in Andersonville, on Chicago's north side. Recent performances of the neoclassical Seasons and The Story of Job fresh in our minds, Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager's new work is a completely different ballet that presents a challenging shift in perspective, technically, artistically, intellectually and emotionally. The beauty of the thing is that Sigao challenges our perspective with captivating results. Sigao begins with a musical setting, Haydn's Stabat Matter, that most of us would associate with church, or religion, after hearing just a few notes. The beautiful, at times haunting score evokes thoughts of the regal and magnificent - stained glass windows, expansive cathedrals and the like. The ballet's challenging juxtaposition, however, becomes apparent as soon as the dancers begin moving. Sigao's movements are hardly classical, nor exclusively balletic, employing a raw expression of emotion and contrast through any kind of movement that communicates.
And, communicate, it does.
Sigao's abstract storyline serves as something of a commentary and reflection on today's church. The work illustrates questions that many of us within - and maybe outside of- church circles have today about church. We may each resonate with different questions reflected in the work, based on our own experiences. However, the end of the story has something to do with the redemptive narrative that originally brought us, in the church, together in the first place.
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"--and I am the worst of them all. [1Ti 1:15 NLT]