This weekend, Ballet 5:8 made its last of four different appearances at the 19th Annual Dance Chicago Festival. The Ballet 5:8 professional company and the Ballet 5:8 trainees made two appearances each, the first time for both groups to appear at the annual dancing festival that has become a Chicago tradition under the direction of Dance Chicago Artistic Director John Schmitz.
Earlier in November, the Trainees were invited to participate in Dance Slam, a high-energy, fun-filled event made up of individual performances by 22 different student performing groups. Much like in popular television shows, Dance Slam audience members can vote to rate each performance. B58's trainees brought a serious note to the evening with their performance of Emmanuel, an excerpt from the School of the Arts' upcoming Christmas production, The Carpenter's Son. Despite it being one of the few classical pieces in the lineup, the audience rated Emmanuel in the top ten for all categories. More significantly, Schmitz invited B58 Artistic Director Julianna Slager to bring Emmanuel back for the Choreographer's Showcase this past weekend.
The B58 professional company's two appearances at Dance Chicago were strikingly distinct, but each meaningful in their own way. Earlier in the month, B58 presented an excerpt of Slager's pretty, energetic classical ballet Proverbs to a full audience in the Athenaeum Theater's Main Stage, sharing a glimpse of the joy that believers have in Christ. Last weekend, B58 returned to Dance Chicago with an excerpt from the contemporary, contemplative Life in Question in the smaller, more intimate Studio Theater. Life in Question is typically a great conversation starter, and sure enough, Friday's performance left audience members considering the, as one observer noted, "distinct energy" of B58's performance.
Thankful for the "firsts" that November brought, B58 is now turning its attention to preparations for upcoming Christmas events. The Ballet 5:8 professional company is preparing for several smaller holiday engagements around the Midwest, while the Trainees and the School of the Arts are busy with only 16 days until the first performance of their full length ballet The Carpenter's Son in Frankfort, Illinois. Please be in prayer for both the professional company and the School of the Arts as they each hope to share the joy of the true story of Christmas with a world that is more and more often letting Santa and the holiday hubbub edge baby Jesus out of the holiday celebration.