Libby Dennen 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, Libby Dennen

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

A. It's a message of hope in what was possibly the most hopeless time period in history. The ballet doesn't shy away from the horror and the severity of it all. It shows the real pain, but also the real courage. The movement shows the weariness, but also the fight. The individuality and the community. It uses movement to portray emotions that can be too deep for words.

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

A. I play the role Honza Trechlinger, a 14 year old boy who later died in Auschwitz. He was known for his performing and acting in the various plays staged in Terezin.

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

A. Playing a male on stage has actually come somewhat naturally since I grew up with mostly boys and was a bit of a tomboy. The difficulties come in capturing that 'beyond tired, beyond traumatized' feeling while still keeping those ballet lines and staying on the timing. The movement quality is so specific, yet so individual. Physicalizing such a vast range of emotions is definitely a huge challenge.

Q. What do you most enjoy about the work?

A. It's so different than anything we've done before. There is so much depth and meaning to each step. By the end of the season there will still be layers to peel back. I love when a ballet has that ability to never stop growing.

Q. Why see Butterfly?

A. There are a lot of people out there today who view the world as a hopeless place. There is a lot of darkness out there, but that's when hope shines brightest. If the Jews in the Terezin ghetto could still find that hope, still hold on to one another, still seek after God, then this ballet is a message to those in this world that we can find it too.