CHICAGO – Ballet 5:8 will close out its Sixth Performing Season this April with an encore performance based on the company’s popular 2017 premiere Compass. The April engagement, scheduled as part of Chicago Dance Month, features all four works from the original program on the topic of navigating cultural tension with compassion. The performance will be presented as Compass Project, with a portion of each ticket sold donated to World Relief. World Relief is a national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Aurora, IL. The nonprofit stands with refugees and immigrants and partners with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transform lives and build sustainable communities. Ballet 5:8’s single Chicago performance of Compass Project will be held on Saturday, April 28 at 7:00pm at Moody Bible Institute - Solheim Center, 930 N Wells St., Chicago, IL. Attendees are additionally invited to attend a post-performance Q&A with artists and choreographers from the performance. Tickets are $20 general admission, and $10 for college students and children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at ballet58.org or by calling 312-725-4752. Performance information is available at ballet58.org/compass-project-chicago.
Compass Project uses contemporary ballet and storytelling to consider the pressing issues of the day - not in a political or divisive sense, but simply through the lens of compassion. The four ballets in the program (originally premiered as “Compass” 2017) include works inspired by the poems of African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth, and Pulitzer Prize author and Chicagoan, Gwendolyn Brooks. Reviewer Kristi Licera of Dancermusic.com called Compass in Chicago “an evening of inspired choreography and thought-provoking performance.” Ken Norris, of WKTV Journal, reviewed Ballet 5:8’s Grand Rapids performance and noted the “on-stage presence and prowess of solo dancers Stephanie Joe and especially Antonio Rosario” in All God’s Children, as well as the “the sparse, incredibly emotional The Mother, and the dancing perfection of lead dancer Lorianne Barclay.”
Another of the ballets in the program, Strangers & Angels, is inspired by the 1917 Armenian refugee crisis - which in the ballet, is juxtaposed with the Syrian refugee crisis of our present day. The ballet is the basis of Ballet 5:8’s collaboration with nonprofit World Relief for the April 28th performance. World Relief offices in Aurora, IL, and Chicago will benefit from Compass Project ticket sales and will also participate in the post-performance Q&A. The nonprofit organization serves both refugees and immigrants, providing them with the services they need to successfully integrate into life in their new communities. World Relief offers English classes, an early childhood program, after-school tutoring for youth, summer youth clubs, job referral services and job readiness classes, counseling services, case management, and more.
“When Ballet 5:8 approached us about collaborating on this performance of Compass,” says Tabitha McDuffee of World Relief Aurora/DuPage, “we jumped at the opportunity. The message of Compass - navigating cultural tension with compassion - complements perfectly World Relief’s mission of welcoming refugees and immigrants. We don’t deny the tension that can result when people from different countries and cultures live together in one community. However, World Relief does maintain that the Bible commands us to love and welcome the stranger. We hope that Compass, and especially the final ballet, Strangers & Angels, will give people a new and unique look at refugees and stir them to act compassionately toward them.” McDuffee also says that World Relief “has been blessed by the generosity of Ballet 5:8, their commitment to excellence in their art, and their desire to facilitate challenging conversations.”
Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Julianna Rubio Slager, is co-founder of the six-year old company and brings a wealth of experience to her work. Slager’s choreography has been performed at festivals and events across the Midwest: Dance Chicago, Project Dance, Chicago International Arts Festival, Detroit City Dance Festival. Beginning in 2014, Ballet 5:8 began touring nationally, bringing Slager's critically acclaimed ballets such as Scarlet, The Stor(ies) of You and Me, and Compass to audiences across the nation. Slager is also a groundbreaking figure within the field, as one of the few female Artistic Directors and Resident Choreographers of professional ballet companies in the world. As a woman with Hispanic heritage, she hopes that her leadership and creative work at Ballet 5:8 will pave the way for other women and minorities in professional ballet.