As we get into the month of September, the Ballet 5:8 Company is heading into the fifth week of the season. If you are wondering why there haven't been any company performances yet, keep reading for a peek into what we've been up to this month and what we have planned for the upcoming weeks.
It Makes the Waiting Easier: Introducing the Annual Season Preview
In just a little over a week, Ballet 5:8 is hosting a free event that we hope will become an annual tradition: an official Season Preview. Hosted by the Ballet 5:8 Directors and featuring appearances by the artists of the Ballet 5:8 Company, the Season Preview is slated to be an event that could be nearly as interesting - or even better than a full-length company performance. Have you ever sat through a dance performance and wondered what the choreographer was thinking when he or she create the piece? This is your chance to find out just that. The Preview will include a special presentation by Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager introducing not just the content, but the heart behind the company's dynamic and diverse repertoire for the 2013-2014 season. The event is also scheduled to include a live sneak peek of one of Ballet 5:8's new performance pieces and a Question-and-Answer session with an open floor for questions and discussion about faith, dance and the arts, especially in our very own Chicago and greater Chicago community.
A Day in the Life of a Christian Professional Ballet Company
The art form of ballet is an intricate hybrid of a performing art and an athletic endeavor. If a ballet dancer's work looks easy during a performance, that dancer has accomplished his or her goal - making a performance, which is often a very physically taxing experience, appear effortless and visually, aesthetically interesting. To cultivate the physical capacity to accomplish this, professional dancers begin each day by arriving to the studio as much as several hours prior to the start of technique class to warm up, stretch and perform cross-training exercises. Technique class runs for one-and-a-half to two hours each morning; as directed by the Artistic Director or Ballet Mistress, dancers complete progressively bigger and more difficult combinations of ballet steps to condition their bodies according to the intricacies of the art form.
Mornings at Ballet 5:8 also include company devotions, a time dedicated to prayer and the study of Scripture. Though the company is passionate about presenting ballet in an excellent and engaging manner, we believe the most important aspect of performing is the opportunity to use dance to communicate an idea, a story or a Scriptural truth that points to the Gospel of Jesus of Christ and hopefully, sparks discussion on that level among audience members. Since we could never hope to accomplish this without God's power, we believe the time we spend praying together is even more important than the time we spend preparing for performances in a physical sense.
After taking a short lunch break, dancers return to the studio for an afternoon of rehearsals. As Artistic Director Julianna Slager begins to "set" new choreography for the season, the dancers must memorize the steps, the steps' order, and the specific relationship between the steps and the music. Once the dancers memorize the steps and musicality for a particular piece of choreography, they then must perform the piece over and over again, day after day. The process of repetition helps the dancers to develop a chemistry within the piece's particular cast and perfect intricacies in the choreographed movement. This may mean learning to move exactly the same as a group of two, three or even ten or more other dancers. In other cases, this may mean developing an intense emotional interplay between two dancers' characters in a piece.
Typically, it takes a choreographer about one hour to choreograph each minute of dancing that will appear onstage in any given performance. After the piece is set, each minute of choreography can take up to five hours to "clean" and perfect in rehearsal. Hence? Except in special circumstances, the Ballet 5:8 company won't perform until October, roughly two months into the season, allowing the company time to prepare each of it's performance pieces.
This month, please be praying for the company, including the directors and dancers, as they work to, by God's grace, prepare technique, choreography and missionary hearts for this season.