Ballet 5:8 Re-Imagines C.S. Lewis Through New Work

CHICAGO – Now in its 7th performance season, Ballet 5:8 returns to The Athenaeum Theatre with The Space in Between. What if heaven is nearer than we think?  What if we carry inside of us the darkness of hell? Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s newest work draws inspiration from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, using Ballet 5:8’s signature blend of innovative storytelling and breathtaking dance to explore the nature of eternity and the joy found on its shores. The Chicago performances will be held on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 21 at 2:30pm at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport Ave. Attendees are additionally invited to attend a post-performance Q&A. Tickets are $30 for adults, $22 for students and seniors, and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (773) 935-6875. Performance information is available at

Ballet 5:8 tours nationally each season and has a reputation for providing audiences with a unique opportunity to engage in conversation on relevant life and faith topics based on the company’s repertoire. Ballet 5:8 has been called “spectacular and mature” by the Elgin Review’s Jeffrey Pierce, and Slager’s choreography “consistently imaginative” by Ken Norris of WKTV Journal in Grand Rapids. In Chicago, Kristi Licera of called Ballet 5:8’s Compass “an evening of inspired choreography and thought-provoking performance,” and Kristian Jamie of March Magazine, San Antonio, called Ballet 5:8’s Scarlet an “effortless” adaptation of classic literature. In New York City, renowned mime coach Pilar Garcia noted that in Compass, Slager “deftly weaves the emotional questions that live on after such hard choices are made no matter the reasons.”

According to Slager, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis is a timeless and timely work of literature that deserves a fresh, 21st century revisiting. Ballet 5:8’s world premiere The Space in Between invites audiences into a riveting story that begins in a grey town where the rain falls continuously, where a man stands at a bus stop on the brink of heaven and hell. In Lewis’ work, Hell is not a place where a vengeful God tortures his victims, but a place where, according to Lewis, “the gates are locked from the inside.” The Space in Between invites audience members from any faith background or opinion to consider this fascinating premise as they watch the story unfold in its vivid, imaginative setting.

Also featured in the program will be Four Seasons of the Soul, a poignant Ballet 5:8 audience favorite. Seasons explores how the turning of the seasons in nature parallels the recurring themes of human life. With vivid color and emotion, the work paints a moving picture of the soft innocence of youth, the impassioned zeal of adolescence, the celebrations and tragedies of adulthood, and the coming winter of life’s final chapter. Using an arrangement of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Slager lets this classic work influence and inspire yet another generation as it strikes the deep chords of humanity and nature in harmony.  

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager is co-founder of the company and brings a wealth of experience to her work. 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 Mexican-American Artistic Directors and Resident Choreographers of professional ballet companies in the world. She hopes that her leadership and creative work at Ballet 5:8 will pave the way for other women and minorities in professional ballet.

Ballet 5:8’s return to the Athenaeum Theatre is the company’s fourth performance on the historic venue’s mainstage since 2015. Ballet 5:8’s Athenaeum debut, The Beauty of Introspection, included original works by Slager and the premiere of And Mercy, a commissioned work by choreographer and filmmaker Preston Miller. In 2017, Ballet 5:8 brought the world premiere of its nationally recognized ballet-film hybrid Scarlet, based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, to the Athenaeum. Last fall, Ballet 5:8 performed Slager’s Compass on the mainstage during the Dance Chicago festival, featuring four original works on navigating cultural tension with compassion.

ABOUT BALLET 5:8 - Founded in 2012, Ballet 5:8 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.