Samuel Opsal 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, Samuel Opsal

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

A. Butterfly is a ballet set in the Terezin ghetto during the Holocaust. Throughout the ballet we see the power of hope growing even in the most horrific environment.

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

A. I am dancing the role of Rafael Schächter. He was a composer and conductor who was sent to Terezin. Rafael Schächter led choirs in Terezin, even setting Verdi's Requiem without sheet music. In Butterfly he is one of the three characters who share hope to others despite the unimaginable conditions of the camp.

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

A. The movement in the piece uses a variety dynamics to portray the emotions of the characters. Rising, falling, twisting and collapsing are just a few elements can be seen in the work. In terms of easy or challenging parts of the piece I would say the challenge has been finding a balance of emotion. While exploring the movement I want to tell the story in my body in an authentic way and not let it turn into just a facade or caricature. The ease comes after working through the challenge of balance at which point the emotion starts to work symbiotically with the choreography, moving the story forward as one.

Q. What do you most enjoy about the work?

A. I have most enjoyed interacting with the other dancers of Ballet 5:8 throughout the ballet. Each dancer is portraying a specific person who was there. Finding moments of connection with all the other dancers and using dance to show the different conversations they may have had has been powerful to me.

Q. Why see Butterfly?

A. Butterfly brings to the stage a compelling story of hope in the midst of turmoil. This intense and emotion-filled piece set in the Holocaust brings to light the stories of those who, despite being in the worst possible situation, chose to share hope in any way they could.