Ballet 5:8 Brings American Classic The Scarlet Letter to Life with Groundbreaking Ballet-Film Production

CHICAGO – Ballet 5:8 is celebrating its Fifth Anniversary by exploring uncharted territory with a film/dance hybrid rendition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The full-length ballet follows the iconic Hester Prynne as she wrestles with her open guilt and grief in a judgmental society, while Reverend Dimmesdale suffers in silence with his secret sin and love. This classic story delves into the timeless struggles of hypocrisy, shame and ultimately, the hope of redemption. Performances will be held on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 19 at 2:00pm at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 Southport Avenue, Chicago. Tickets are $35 for adults, $28 for students and seniors, and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at athenaeumtheatre.org or by calling 773-935-6875. Performance information is available at ballet58.org/scarlet.

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s Scarlet is on the cutting edge of multidisciplinary art. Building from a stunning score by American modernist composer Charles Ives, Scarlet blends an original Spoken Word performance by local artist Kylla Pate with film elements directed by Alvin Ailey choreographer and film producer Preston Miller. The project weaves the visual strength of film and the emotional impact of Spoken Word into the beauty, grace and power of ballet. Each artistic discipline adds a unique texture and voice into the narrative, creating a multi-layered and dynamic experience within a timeless story.

In 2015, See Chicago Dance editor Lynn Shapiro wrote that Ballet 5:8 “shows gutsy determination to contribute a unique perspective.” Scarlet continues to push the envelope of the possibilities within the art form. This performance enhances the storytelling capacity of classical ballet by adding film elements that incorporate some of the latest innovations within the filmmaking industry and gathering an expert team of collaborators to accomplish the vision. Ultimately, Scarlet invites audiences to consider the hypocrisy within each of us and, as Slager puts it, “our human tendency to chase what destroys us.”  After each performance, Slager and the collaborating artists will host an interactive panel discussion.

In the March premiere of Scarlet, the principal role of Hester is double-cast between Ballet 5:8’s Lead Artist Lauren Ader-Cumpston and Solo Artist Brette Benedict, both veteran Ballet 5:8 dancers. The roles of Dimmesdale and Chillingsworth, respectively, will be performed by new Ballet 5:8 dancers Antonio Fernandez and Samuel Opsal - a particularly notable announcement after Ballet 5:8’s first four years as a female-only company. With an overall roster of 12 professional dancers and additional corps de ballet roles danced by Ballet 5:8 trainees, Scarlet will be Slager’s biggest professional project to date.