The Beauty of Introspection

Company Artist Marinna Kus as Mija in Mi Familia.

Company Artist Brette Benedict in Winter from The Four Seasons of the Soul.

Many thanks to each and every person who came out to see The Beauty of Introspection on September 12! We were blessed to able to share the special evening, our inaugural Fall Season performance for 2015-2016, with a tremendous crowd of regular Ballet 5:8 audience members and quite a few new faces as well. If you were able to be there, thank you so much for being there and for your support. 

Looking back, each of the performance's three acts were wildly different, but also beautiful in their own way. 

The evening began with Artistic Director Julianna Slager’s Four Seasons of the Soul, returning as an audience favorite a year after its successful premiere in 2014. The work’s intensive combination of dance, color, music and emotion continues to make for an incredible reflection on life as seen through the lens of the bigger picture. The work continues to grow each time it goes onstage, and each performance provides new opportunities for reflection. After watching it, Lynn Shapiro of SeeChicagoDance said,

“...the piece celebrates the company’s technical proficiency and Slager’s command of spatial design... Clean, crisp point work raced through a flurry of ever-changing group patterns, reflecting the urgency of Vivaldi’s music."

Lead Company Artist Lauren Ader-Cumpston in And Mercy.

The evening's second act, the world premiere of And Mercy, was the culmination of several weeks this summer working with Preston Miller, a talented artist, choreographer and Chicago native. As Miller has brought his work to life in the studios, he has challenged us to embrace a truly contemporary style of movement that has not previously been utilized by our company. But even more than that, Miller has challenged us to approach the movement with a depth of honesty and emotion that has made it possible for us to adopt the exploration of judgment and mercy in the piece as our own. The premiere performance did not disappoint.

The world premiere of Slager’s Mi Familia was the evening's finale. The work is introspective yes, but also outrageously joyful with its bright red dresses and its contagious flamenco-style movement and music! The work’s surprising character is purposed to serve as an invitation to us all to join in the celebration of the beauty of family and relationships that can be found beyond the differences of race and culture. It was an incredible way to end the evening and was a delightful experience for all. Here's how Lynn Shapiro put it: 

"Slager’sjoyous 'Mi Familia' concluded the program with a lively celebration of her Latin roots. Three female characters, a mother, an aunt, and a daughter, led the festivities with loosely delineated relationships. Lorianne Barclay’s simple but effective costumes added plenty of flounced skirt-swishing and colorful spectacle. Marinna Kus was especially delightful as 'Mija' the young daughter in refreshing solo work that captured the essence of a young woman’s zest for life and love of family. The choreography did a great job of integrating Spanish character dance with classical point work. Engaging group sequences once again highlighted Slager’s skill in creating eye-pleasing patterns. We are willing to forgive her a bit too much repetition of a good movement theme, when variation would have been welcome, because the highly watchable, entertaining dancing this troupe delivered made a thoroughly rousing finale to the evening."