New Illinois Arts Council Agency Grant: Ballet 5:8 Continuing to Invest in Illinois Communities

FRANKFORT, IL - Ballet Five Eight NFP (Ballet 5:8), a Frankfort, Illinois based nonprofit arts organization, has been awarded a second grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency in the amount of $12,900, for general operating support. The grant will be partially supporting operations between September, 2018 and August, 2019. Ballet 5:8 is committed to investing in Illinois communities, artists and residents through high-quality, accessible dance education and performance and is thrilled to have this operating support for the 2018/19 season.

Ballet 5:8’s investment in the people of Illinois each year begins with the 20+ adult, professional dancers and teachers who the company both employs locally, and attracts to relocate to Illinois in order to work with Ballet 5:8. College-age dancers are also a part of this mission. Through a high-caliber Trainee Program, the company is able to bring many of these young artists to Illinois in their formative career years, providing the final training and professional performing experience they need to begin their own professional careers.

Ballet 5:8’s professional artists participate in the process of creating brand new, all-original full-length performances, in Frankfort, IL. The company’s goal with each new ballet is to create beautiful, engaging experiences through the combination of innovative storytelling and breathtaking dance. Ballet 5:8 performances invite people to participate in open conversation about life and faith topics, regardless of what viewpoint they hold. Projects in Ballet 5:8’s most recently completed season include the premiere of a collection of original ballets called Compass, themed on navigating cultural tension with compassion, and performances of Scarlet, our groundbreaking ballet-film hybrid production based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel The Scarlet Letter. Slager’s newest work The Space in Between, set to premiere in October, is set on a bus ride between heaven and hell, drawing inspiration from C.S. Lewis’ work The Great Divorce. Ballet 5:8 professional artists also perform select roles in Illinois performances by our dance education center, Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts. These performances, held at Lincoln Way West High School in New Lenox,  include Beyond the Nutcracker, a holiday tale and local favorite in the Chicago South Suburbs, set to Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker score.

Ballet 5:8’s performances bring the inspiration of professional ballet not only to communities in the heart of Chicago’s arts and theater districts but also to communities with little or no immediate access to professional arts. Recent and upcoming Illinois performance locations include the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago, Lincoln-Way West High School Fine Arts Center in New Lenox, the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin, Illinois Central College in East Peoria, the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Moline, Urbana High School Auditorium in Urbana, and Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. Ticketed and free performances were shared by a total of 10,750 audience members in Illinois during the 2017/18 performing season. Thanks to funding from individual donors and sources such as the the Illinois Arts Council Agency, we are able to keep our performance ticket prices ranging from $12-$35 for most performances, in addition to participating in a number of free-to-the-public performances. Upcoming free performances include at farmers market in Daley Plaza, downtown Chicago, on September 27, and at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago on January 31. Performances like these ensure that our work remains accessible to community members from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. Our donor funding additionally enables us to work with charitable nonprofits to provide reduced-cost and donated performance tickets to the homeless, families who have children with mental and physical disabilities, inner-city schools, military veterans, and others.

Ballet 5:8 also has the privilege of being able to invest in Illinois through accessible, high-caliber dance education. Over 250 Illinois children and youth receive dance instruction from our professional artists each year - and many of these young dancers will become professional artists of tomorrow. In our School, which also attracts students from across the U.S., the wellbeing of each individual dancer is valued just as much as the dancer’s potential in the field. We have multiple distinct training divisions and classes available that range from pre-professional level classical ballet training to recreational classes in a wide variety of dance disciplines. In time, the young artists who participate in these programs will be ready to go out into the state and across the country: whole, healthy, strong and creative artists who can continue Ballet 5:8’s work of bringing the joy and beauty of dance and meaningful discussion into our communities. Thanks to funding from individual donors and sources such as the Illinois Arts Council Agency, we are able to keep our tuition rates accessible to families from many socioeconomic backgrounds and offer financial aid scholarships to families with particular need.

Ballet 5:8 is proud to be an Illinois-based nonprofit and is honored to be the recipient of this Illinois Arts Council Agency grant for general operating support. We are incredibly grateful to the support of the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and to the many individual donors and local community members who support our mission. This support will be making it possible for us to continue investing in the state of Illinois, the Midwest and the nation through Illinois arts and artists this season and for years to come.

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.