Ballet 5:8 In Kalamazoo With A Story Of Defiant Hope In The Holocaust


Chicago’s Ballet 5:8 visits Kalamazoo for the first time with a program of one-act works featuring Butterfly. Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s newest work recreates the gripping scenes of the WWII Terezin ghetto, where residents created masterful works of art in defiance of their oppressors. The performance will also feature work inspired by C.S. Lewis, and the world premiere of a work choreographed by Kevin Jenkins, winner of Editors Choice awards from Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.

The performance will be held on Saturday, March 18 at 7:00pm and Sunday, March 19th at 3:00pm at Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste. 204, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, including a post-performance Q&A with Slager and artists from the cast. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for students and seniors, and $15 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 312-725-4752. Performance information is available at 

Slager’s gripping work Butterfly looks back on WWII Terezin where, from the ashes of this hellscape, glimmers of hope emerge. In Terezin, a Jewish art teacher refused to let the children die without hope. She challenged her students to create art that spoke of their misery but also of the hope that lies within. Every human is precious and created with purpose. Slager says, ”The remnants of art from the nearly forgotten children of Terezin challenge us to look with clear eyes upon our potential for both evil and beauty.” 

The man behind the yet to be titled Ballet 5:8 world premiere also featured in this program, Kevin Jenkins, has choreographed for many companies including State Street Ballet, St. Louis Ballet, the School of Ballet Arizona, SUNY Purchase, CPYB, Island Moving Company, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, and Big Muddy Dance among others. His work “Snap, Pop” was called “riveting” by Kara Hanlon of Dance Magazine. Kevin’s choreography has been performed on the Inside/Out Series at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and he has been awarded residencies with Djerassi and the National Choreographers Initiative.

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager is co-founder of Ballet 5:8 and brings a wealth of experience to her work. Slager’s work, performed across the nation beginning in 2014, has received praise including “exceptionally well done” from Lauren Warnecke of See Chicago Dance, and “spectacular and mature” from Jeffrey Pierce of the Elgin Review. As a female minority, Slager hopes that her leadership and creative work at Ballet 5:8 will pave the way for other diverse women in professional ballet.

ABOUT BALLET 5:8 - Founded in 2012, Ballet 5:8 is a nonprofit based outside of Chicago, IL. The mission of Ballet 5:8 is to engage communities in Chicago, the Midwest and across the nation in conversation of life and faith through innovative storytelling and breathtaking dance.