Lorianne Barclay has now been with Ballet 5:8 for two years and will be returning this summer/fall to begin her third performing season!Read More
As we look forward to the beginning of our first-ever Summer Season later in June, and the start of our first five-week summer intensive in July, it seems fitting to take a moment to reflect on the past few months. Looking back over the full, busy, sometimes crazy Spring Season we had, there is so much to be thankful for! Please join us in thanking God for all that he's done.
Our Spring Season got off to a running start in January with the creation process for our biggest full-length story ballet project yet: Belteshazzar: A Perilous Tale. Artistic Director Julianna Slager was able to set the ballet, based on the story of the Biblical character Daniel, to a full length score by Benjamin Britten originally created for the ballet Prince of the Pagodas. As it usually is, the process of creating the ballet was a great experience for the entire company, challenging everyone to reach beyond their comfort zones in order to tell this incredible story in a clear, engaging and beautiful manner. Company Artist Laura Schlatter, cast as Daniel, took on her first major lead role since joining Ballet 5:8 in 2013, aptly portraying the character of Daniel with fierce energy and candid emotion. Brette Benedict, Company Artist since 2014, also took on her first major role with Ballet 5:8, portraying the eventually-mad King Nebuchadnezzar with, at times, chilling intensity. Company Artist Lorianne Barclay, in addition to playing serval roles in the work, designed and created the costumes for Belteshazzar. After creating costumes for several of Ballet 5:8's abstract works in the first half of the season, this was Barclay's first foray into costuming a narrative work since taking on the role of Ballet 5:8's resident costume designer in 2014 - and what a wonderful success! Belteshazzar went on stage four times in three different states during the Spring Season. If you didn't get a chance to see Belteshazzar yet, make sure to watch for appearances during the 2015-2016 season.
Outreach with The Story of Job
In April, we had two different opportunities to engage with new audiences in meaningful ways through The Story of Job: When Bad Things Happen to Good People. The ballet went onstage for the first time in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in the gym of local school Heritage Christian Academy. That morning, local dance students were able to attend several master classes taught by Ballet 5:8 Company Artists and greatly enjoyed being able to see those same instructors perform the same night. A week later, Ballet 5:8 set up in another gym, this one in Valparaiso, Indiana, for a performance hosted by a local Christian dance school called Master's Dance Academy. Master's Dance students opened the performance with a showcase showing their accomplishments from the year and then were able to watch Ballet 5:8 Company Artists in Job. The feedback and community impact from these performances was incredible, reminding us of just how worthwhile it is to perform even in the most modest of settings, in school gyms!
Also in April, Ballet 5:8 had the opportunity to join other Chicago dance companies in a city-wide event sponsored by audience-advocacy organization Audience Architects. Chicago Dance Month lasted for the entire month of April and included hundreds of dance events and performances in Chicago, many of them free to attend. Ballet 5:8 performed as part of Chicago Dance Month at an event called “Thank Dance It’s Friday,” which took place outside the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago on Friday afternoons. Ballet 5:8 performed Sigao
Ekklesia: Silent Church, alongside the dance group Luna Troop and the professional contemporary dance company Nomi Dance.
Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts
Things have also been busy at Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts this season, where over 100 students have been studying diligently in dance classes and then learning to use their dancing for God’s glory. In April, the students in the Conservatory program, one of the most advanced training levels in the school, were accepted as a member group of Regional Dance America MidStates! Starting next year, these students will be able to attend the annual MidStates festival and will have a special opportunity to interact with students and instructors from a host of other Chicago dance schools.
As usual, one of the biggest and most memorable events for Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts this season was the spring production - the thing that students spend all year looking forward to and working toward! On May 2-3, the student cast performed Racham: A True Fairytale for the second time after the ballet’s premiere in 2014. The students demonstrated exceptional growth in their technique from a year ago and the performance was gorgeous. Most importantly, the students were able to portray a clear, poignant picture of redemption through the ballet’s Prodigal Son-like storyline and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Reflections on the 2013-14 Season
Because the Ballet 5:8 Company's main performing season lasts from September - May each year, summer is a great time for us to step back, take a deep breath, and rest in a little thankfulness and awe over what God has done. And oh, the things God has done. A few highlights:
In August 2013, we had the privilege of welcoming then-new company dancers Laura, Miriam-Rose, Lorianne, and Marinna to Chicago from as far away as Florida and Oregon, doubling the size of the performing company from the previous season. Together with returning dancers Lauren Ader-Cumpston, Amy Kozol Sanderson and Samantha Zanol, the group headed into our busiest performing season yet, little knowing it would also turn out to be one of the coldest and snowiest winters Chicago has ever experienced (yes, our Floridian survived). We are still in awe of God's provision to send these particular dancers and missionaries to join Ballet 5:8, each one possessing a vibrant passion for Him and subsequently, for the mission of Ballet 5:8, that has made a crucial difference in the work and ministry we've been able to do this year.
In November, 2013, we had the privilege of participating in Dance Chicago for the first time, joining many other dance artists from our city in a month-long series of performances. There are few better ways to sample and celebrate the Chicago dance scene! In November, we also had the privilege of premiering "As We Pray" at St. Paul's Bible Church. The shorter work is a moving ballet set around the words of The Lord's Prayer that has proven poignant for many, including many Christian schools, and that will return as an ongoing part of Ballet 5:8's rep for the upcoming season.
In December 2013, the School of the Arts performed it's full-length Christmas ballet, The Carpenter's Son, and was able to share the truth of the Christmas story with an audience of 1,100 over two performances.
As the new year arrived, Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director embarked on the journey of the creation of our first-ever full-length story ballet made in not the classical style, but the neoclassical style demanded by the 21st-century music the ballet is set to. The Story of Job: When Bad Things Happen to Good People became the centerpiece of our Spring Series 2014 Tour, which led the company to performances in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Spring Arbor, Michigan, and a sold-out single performance at the Beverly Arts Center in our very own city, Chicago. We are thanking God especially for the fact that the Spring Series tour and our discussion of the tough subject of suffering, through the eyes of Job, led to many significant conversations among staff and audience members alike.
Finally, we were able to wrap up the season with the premiere of a brand-new ballet for the School of the Arts: Racham, a Prodigal Son allegory told in the setting of a classical fairytale ballet. We were once again blessed with a great turnout and heard many, many stories of lives touched through the clear presentation of the Gospel in the story. Meanwhile, our students in the School of the Arts have been making incredible strides towards entering the mainstream dance world as individuals, creating new opportunities to share Christ with their peers. Our advanced students will be spending their summers throughout the U.S. at intensive programs with Gelsey Kirkland Classical Ballet, The Kirov Academy, Boston Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet, among others.
We are praising God for these opportunities throughout the season to use ballet to share meaningful stories and ultimately, the hope of Christ with the communities we serve. Thanks so much for participating with us in this mission through your involvement with Ballet 5:8. Want to get involved? Learn more...