Summer Smith on Eden

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager's Eden premiered at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago on February 27th. It will go onstage again in Jackson MI, Denver CO, and Fort Wayne IN as part of Ballet 5:8's Out of the Dust program. Eden asks, have you sit back and really imagined what the creation could have looked looked like? Those first days? Slager uses playful yet technical, bold, and neoclassical choreography to paint a moving, colorful picture of those first days. This month, we decided to catch up with the cast from Eden and get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation process behind the ballet. 

Summer Smith

Q. Of the roles you dance in Eden, which is your favorite or stands out to you? 

A. The role in Eden that has stood out to me has surprised me. I get the chance to dance as light, star, earth, and a jaguar. I have been learning the most through dancing the role of earth. It has been stretching my dancing because it requires me to focus on the different types of terrain and how I can emulate that with slow, elongated movements, moving right into quicker jumps. It also made me more aware of the love God displayed in molding human from the ground, and how great he is to have taken time to focus on the intricacies of the human body and actually create them from dust. It's incredible to think about. 

Q. What has the creation process been like for the choreography?

A. Because there were so many different sections in this ballet, we spent a lot of time dividing our rehearsal time based on which group was working with Julianna. It created a good environment as we were able to focus on the creative process in small groups and really get into the understanding of each step and movement. 

Q. How does the movement communicate?

A. Well, each individual section of the ballet creates an environment in which the created beings can grow. But overall, the ballet is filled with worship. It expresses that while we know hints of God's glory, we don't know it fully yet. It is filled with the hope of the new heavens and new earth which are to come. And it shows a picture of all of creation in loving communion with the Savior. 

Q. What has been most enjoyable/most challenging about tackling the role? 

A. The whole ballet has challenged my stamina as a dancer, and my ability to express genuine emotion on stage. 

Q. Why see Eden?

A. Because creation, the earth, animals, humans: these are things that every person can relate to. We can all see the stars in a clear sky and wonder at their beauty. I think it is important to take time considering how all of this came to be, and wondering not just at the beauty of it, but at the beauty of the one who made it.