Ballet 5:8 Makes A New Home in Orland Park, IL

Ballet 5:8 Makes A New Home in 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.

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

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.

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Ballet 5:8 "Compass" Chicago Encore Partners with World Relief to Inspire Compassion

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.

Ballet 5:8 Brings American Classic The Scarlet Letter to Life with Groundbreaking Ballet-Film Production

CHICAGO – Ballet 5:8 is celebrating its Fifth Anniversary by exploring uncharted territory with a film/dance hybrid rendition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The full-length ballet follows the iconic Hester Prynne as she wrestles with her open guilt and grief in a judgmental society, while Reverend Dimmesdale suffers in silence with his secret sin and love. This classic story delves into the timeless struggles of hypocrisy, shame and ultimately, the hope of redemption. Performances will be held on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 19 at 2:00pm at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 Southport Avenue, Chicago. Tickets are $35 for adults, $28 for students and seniors, and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at athenaeumtheatre.org or by calling 773-935-6875. Performance information is available at ballet58.org/scarlet.

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s Scarlet is on the cutting edge of multidisciplinary art. Building from a stunning score by American modernist composer Charles Ives, Scarlet blends an original Spoken Word performance by local artist Kylla Pate with film elements directed by Alvin Ailey choreographer and film producer Preston Miller. The project weaves the visual strength of film and the emotional impact of Spoken Word into the beauty, grace and power of ballet. Each artistic discipline adds a unique texture and voice into the narrative, creating a multi-layered and dynamic experience within a timeless story.

In 2015, See Chicago Dance editor Lynn Shapiro wrote that Ballet 5:8 “shows gutsy determination to contribute a unique perspective.” Scarlet continues to push the envelope of the possibilities within the art form. This performance enhances the storytelling capacity of classical ballet by adding film elements that incorporate some of the latest innovations within the filmmaking industry and gathering an expert team of collaborators to accomplish the vision. Ultimately, Scarlet invites audiences to consider the hypocrisy within each of us and, as Slager puts it, “our human tendency to chase what destroys us.”  After each performance, Slager and the collaborating artists will host an interactive panel discussion.

In the March premiere of Scarlet, the principal role of Hester is double-cast between Ballet 5:8’s Lead Artist Lauren Ader-Cumpston and Solo Artist Brette Benedict, both veteran Ballet 5:8 dancers. The roles of Dimmesdale and Chillingsworth, respectively, will be performed by new Ballet 5:8 dancers Antonio Fernandez and Samuel Opsal - a particularly notable announcement after Ballet 5:8’s first four years as a female-only company. With an overall roster of 12 professional dancers and additional corps de ballet roles danced by Ballet 5:8 trainees, Scarlet will be Slager’s biggest professional project to date.

Ballet 5:8 at Athenaeum on Navigating Cultural Tension with Compassion

CHICAGO – Celebrating its sixth performance season, Ballet 5:8 will return to the Athenaeum Theatre this November with the Chicago premiere of Compass, presented by Dance Chicago. Ballet 5:8’s Compass features four one-act ballets inspired by the challenges of navigating cultural tension in the present day. From an alien society to 1970’s Chicago, Compass stretches across time and space to explore some of our country’s most pressing topics. At times witty and satirical, and at times deeply emotional, Compass is full of athleticism, power and poetry. A single performance will be held on Friday, November 10 at 7:30pm at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 North Southport Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for students and seniors, and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased at athenaeumtheatre.org or by calling 773-935-6875. Performance information is available at ballet58.org/compass.

A unique professional company, Ballet 5:8’s mission is shaped by a desire to engage audiences in meaningful discussion through innovative storytelling and the beauty and power of professional dance. Compass is based on the theme “navigating cultural tension with compassion” and is inspired by a desire to consider the pressing issues of the day through the lense of compassion. The four original ballets in the Compass program include works inspired by poems authored by African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth, and Pulitzer Prize author and Chicagoan, Gwendolyn Brooks. After the performance, audience members are invited to stay for a Ballet 5:8 tradition, the Talk Back. During this panel discussion, Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager and artists of the company discuss questions, comments and feedback on the performance with audience members.

Ballet 5:8’s return to the Athenaeum Theatre this November follows the March 2017 world premiere of the company’s groundbreaking dance/film production Scarlet, also at the Athenaeum. Audience members at the premiere described Scarlet, which is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American classic novel The Scarlet Letter, as “well done,” “spectacular,” and “brilliantly choreographed.” Veteran Ballet 5:8 dancer Brette Benedict received her promotion to Lead Artist following the Scarlet premiere and will make her Chicago debut as Lead Artist during Compass on November 10th.