ORLAND PARK, IL – Ballet 5:8 has moved its nationally-recognized professional performing company and dance education center from its seven-year home in Frankfort, IL, to a newly remodeled 12,000 square foot building in Orland Park, IL. The new location, just minutes from I-80 and LaGrange Road and a 35-minute drive from downtown Chicago, is a step up from the company’s previous home and includes five state of the art studios and a dedicated cross-training studio, plus added space and amenities for the company’s 13 professional dancers, expanding local student population, and administrative staff. The new and larger studios will allow Ballet 5:8 to continue to increase the size of its professional performing company - which was recently called the “suburbs’ best kept dance secret” by See Chicago Dance Editor Lauren Warnecke - over time. The new building will also foster continued growth for Ballet 5:8’s education programs for all ages which include hundreds of after-school classes, adult dance and fitness classes, monthly workshops for special needs dancers, and a range of intensives and conferences that attract students, choreographers and dance education leaders from across the country during the summer months. A ribbon cutting ceremony at Ballet 5:8’s new location, facilitated by the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce, will be held on Thursday, February 21 from 5-7pm and is open to the public.
“We have outgrown our current location (in Frankfort) and are moving into a larger space in Orland Park in order to expand the classes and events we provide to the South Suburban community,” explained Ballet 5:8’s Executive Director Amy Sanderson. Ballet 5:8’s Managing Director Lauren Bowker noted, “We offer diverse programming from recreational level classes in all dance styles to advanced pre-professional and professional level classical ballet training. Smaller class sizes allow us to help students thrive and receive a one on one level of training with professionally trained teaching staff.” The new location also makes Orland Park the home of the only mid-sized professional ballet company between Chicago city limits and Peoria. This gives Ballet 5:8 and Orland Park the opportunity to make the beauty and inspiration of professional dance accessible to thousands of Illinois residents each year. "We are so proud to welcome Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts and Ballet 5:8 as new members of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce," said Felicitas Cortez, OPACC Executive Director. "Their level of educational commitment and excellence of performance benefits their students and serves as a great compliment to the Orland Park community." The Ballet 5:8 professional company performs throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, the Midwest, and the nation. Upcoming local performances include a free preview of Four Seasons of the Soul held at the Harold Washington Library Centre in Chicago on January 31, a collaborative performance hosted by Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights February 1-2, and a full length showing of the company’s acclaimed program The Space in Between at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin on February 16. The School of the Arts, which has a reputation for attracting over 1,500 audience members to its performances of Beyond the Nutcracker each December, will also perform The Wayward Daughter at Lincoln Way West High School in New Lenox May 11-12. Additional information on each performance is available at www.ballet58.org.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Ballet 5:8 relies on community and foundation support to cover operating costs not supported by ticket sales and tuition, both of which the company works to keep low and accessible to the public at large. The company has currently raised 74% if its 2018/19 fundraising goal, which includes funding for the move and buildout costs. Hundreds of individual donors have made special gifts to facilitate the move, including Wanda Bowman, and Olivier & Naomi Morin, who are sponsoring specific studios in the new building. Ballet 5:8 is also grateful for the support of local nonprofit Operation Nehemiah, under the direction of Robert Lach. Operation Nehemiah is dedicated to partnering with non-profit organizations and churches on building and rebuilding projects. Operation Nehemiah worked with Ballet 5:8 from October - December, 2018 to complete the renovations that transformed the empty warehouse into Ballet 5:8’s new home. “The generosity of Operation Nehemiah and their volunteers is a big part of making our new studio space possible and will allow us to continue to serve our communities through high quality dance education and performance for years to come,” said Ballet 5:8 Executive Director Amy Sanderson.
A recipient of Illinois Arts Council Agency grants in 2017 and 2018, Ballet 5:8 is excited to continue to build on its history of investing in communities in Illinois and beyond through the arts. The company started out with just three professional dancers in 2012 and a range of local performances, largely in non-traditional venues. Today, Ballet 5:8 contracts 13 professional dancers who have moved from across the U.S. and Canada to work with the company, performing an expanding repertoire of original, innovative works created by Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager in professional theaters across the country. According to Lead Artist Brette Benedict, a graduate of the Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University who joined Ballet 5:8 in 2014, “The new space has already started to impact my work. We now have room to grow and dance bigger and push further, increasing our technical abilities and keep growing as a company.”
Ballet 5:8 now tours in Illinois, the Midwest and nationally and has a reputation for providing audiences with a unique opportunity to engage in conversation on relevant life and faith topics through innovative storytelling and breathtaking dance. This fall, Lauren Warnecke of See Chicago Dance described Ballet 5:8’s dancers in The Space in Between as “serious, talented” and KD Norris of WKTV in Grand Rapids called Slager’s choreography “consistently imaginative.” Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager, co-founder of the company, is a groundbreaking figure within the field, as one of the few Mexican-American Artistic Directors and Resident Choreographers of professional ballet companies in the world. According to Slager, “Ballet 5:8's beautiful and spacious studios embody the best attributes of this organization. We are poised to expand and move forward into this new era of artistic depth and growth. Dance and space are inextricably linked, and our building in Orland park is ready to inspire a generation of dancers to move bigger, bolder and with more passion than ever before.”
Ballet 5:8’s education center, Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts, has grown to serve nearly 300 students each year at its main campus, as well as classes held at satellite locations in Palos Heights, Beverly (Chicago), and Valparaiso, IN. Students attending classes at the main location now in Orland Park hail from more than 25 area communities including Orland Park, Tinley Park, Frankfort, New Lenox, and Mokena, as well as from as far away as Aurora and Bolingbrook to the north, and Kankakee to the south.
Children’s & Youth Division Director and instructor Abigail Gray Gardner, originally from Bolivia, moved to the area to train with Ballet 5:8 in 2012 and later became an instructor after graduating from Ballet 5:8’s Trainee Program. “I enjoy teaching at Ballet 5:8 because it is a safe place where our students are able to learn and grow in a healthy and loving environment,” Gardner says. “I feel like I am truly making a difference in our students’ lives and am able to form meaningful relationships with them. Our new building is allowing us to open many more classes! The larger studios are also giving students more space to explore movement and dance freely. I am so excited to see Ballet 5:8 continue to grow in our new home!” Antonio Rosario, a Lead Artist with the professional company who grew up and trained in New York City, is also the director of Ballet 5:8’s intensive Conservatory Program for high school students pursuing careers in professional dance. According to Rosario, it is a privilege to be able to help advanced students refine their technique, develop the strength to carry out difficult movements with grace, and push to artistic discovery. The new, larger studios, he says, “will give the dancers the freedom to expand through the movement and the artistic freedom to make bold choices.”
ABOUT BALLET 5:8 - Founded in 2012, Ballet 5:8 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization based just 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. Ballet 5:8 performs over 40 times throughout Chicago and across the nation each year, in settings ranging from school gyms and professional theaters, in addition to teaching workshops and master classes. Ballet 5:8’s dance education center serves over 250 students each year through a wide range of dance classes, nationally-recognized advanced classical ballet training programs, and a five-week summer intensive. Ballet 5:8’s 2018/19 Season is made possible in part by Prima Soft Dancewear, Athletico, Allegro Dance Boutique of Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.