Ballet 5:8’s Compass features four one-act ballets inspired by the challenges of navigating cultural tension in the present day.

From an alien society to 1970’s Chicago, Compass stretches across time and space to explore some of our country’s most pressing topics. At times witty and satirical, and at times deeply emotional, Compass is full of athleticism, power and poetry.


You can join the conversation.

Following each performance, audience members are invited to attend a TalkBack panel discussion with Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager and artists of the company.

By reframing the issue in another world and starting from scratch, we can see ourselves more clearly.
— Julianna Slager on her work "All God's Children"


The Ballets


All God’s Children is a ballet based on a poem by Sojourner Truth.  

If God created all people, then He created every shade of skin color. This leaves little room for prejudice. The ballet approaches the issue of racial tension and diversity from a fresh perspective, through the lens of an imagined world. Whimsical, satirical and compellingly fresh, the ballet shows the development of culture and the beauty of what makes us distinct, without forgetting what binds us together.



Shades of Refrain is a modern day plunge into the deep of human emotion.


The ballet peels back the layers of disguise and masquerade to reveal the naked human heart.


Shades of Refrain is a series of heart cries from the created to the Creator. Some are cries of joy and elation while others are moans of despair when words can only belittle the emotion. The ballet unwraps the human heart and the poetry of our most intimate moments. It’s the melody that underscores our human existence and our search for meaning, finding the answer in communion with the Creator. This is a 21st century interpretation of the centuries old book of Psalms.



The Mother


The Mother is an interpretation of the poem by Pulitzer Prize author and Chicagoan Gwendolyn Brooks. It’s a poem that stands face to face with regret and refuses to blink. It presses right into the pain and allows the abortion of decades past to come bubbling to the surface with sorrow, rage and haunting visions of what might have been.


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Strangers and Angels is set in Ellis Island 1917 and 2017.

Strangers pass under the shadow of Lady Liberty eager for a fresh start and filled with hope.

The ballet traces the impact individuals have on our lives and how those impressions leave a legacy through the centuries.  It is a subtle look at hospitality and immigration in the shadow of a nation wrestling with its heritage and its future.