The Space in Between: Sam Opsal

Ballet 5:8’s fall program includes Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s brand new ballet The Space in Between, a story inspired by C. S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce. Throughout this 2018/19 Season, we'll be checking in with the dancers to hear about their experiences preparing for and performing The Space in Between.

Company Artist Sam Opsal

Company Artist Sam Opsal in rehearsal for the Grey Town movement from  The Space in Between .

Company Artist Sam Opsal in rehearsal for the Grey Town movement from The Space in Between.

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

A. I have been dancing the role of Frank, who becomes the Tragedian. In the final movement I dance as a Spirit.

Q. Based on your experience so far, how would you describe The Space in Between?

A. This ballet uses dance to portray a journey through the gritty hard-hitting movement of Grey Town transitioning into effortless grace and poise in the final moments of the ballet. Throughout The Space in Between there are many vignettes of powerful storytelling as the Narrator encounters the complexities of the human heart as portrayed through a variety of characters.

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

A. The movement in this ballet is extremely athletic and visceral. The movement does shift in terms of gracefulness and line during the ballet but the athleticism remains. There is a lot of the movement in Grey Town that feels very natural to me, as I enjoy exploring warped lines and grounded movement. The challenging part has been the physical demand. In the first twenty minutes of the ballet I don’t feel like I ever quite catch my breath!

Q. How has the story impacted you?

A. When reading The Great Divorce I enjoyed the way C.S. Lewis approaches the topic of heaven and hell in regards to what the heart most desires. As we have created and worked on the ballet it has been I reminder for me to keep Christ as the center of my focus.

Q. Share your perspective on the relation between The Great Divorce and what the audience can expect to see of your featured character in the ballet.

A. My role as Frank/The Tragedian is not encountered until quite late in the book at which point his back story with his wife is revealed. In The Space in Between, the structure differs with my selfish character’s unhealthy marriage to a godly woman being shown immediately at the beginning of the ballet. This linear storytelling allows for a greater depth of character, clarity for the audience, and makes the appearance of the Tragedian and the Dwarf more powerful later in the ballet.

Q. Why see The Space in Between?

A. The Space in Between shows Ballet 5:8’s wide range of movement. Stunning visuals, powerful storytelling and athletic virtuosity converge to create a ballet that is not to be missed!