Emily Ratkos on Butterfly

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s newest work Butterfly shares a tragic but beautiful story of hope inspired by the children of WWII Terezin. We are excited to learn more about the work from a few of the dancers who are participating in the creation process.


Company Artist, Emily Ratkos

Q. Based on your experience, how would you describe Butterfly?

A. In the midst of darkness, fear, and oppression, Butterfly highlights themes of hope interwoven through the inner and outward struggle of World War II concentration camp, Terezin.

Q. What role(s) have you been dancing?

A. I dance the role of Zuzana Winterova, a character based on a real Jewish child who later dies in Auschwitz.

Q. Describe the movement. What has been easy to capture and perform? Challenging?

A. There is a large contrast of movement and intention throughout the piece. Some parts are initiated through everyday body language, giving a very raw, human and transparent effect. Other parts are more hopeful and free, showing the beauty and fluidity of the dancer. It has been challenging to show the physicalized fear and oppression of the character through the intention of movement rather than through the intention of facial expression.

Q. What do you most enjoy about the work?

A. Throughout the whole creative process it has felt like a heavy responsibility to capture the weight and emotion behind this real life tragedy. But through that, there is the beauty of finding hope in darkness and being a voice for those who could not tell their story themselves.

Q. Why see Butterfly?

A. Butterfly captures the importance of every human life through a story that will leave you both challenged and encouraged.