Ballet 5:8 Collaborates on Navigating Cultural Tensions with Compassion

CHICAGO – Ballet 5:8 will return to the Mark O’Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn this April with the New York premiere of its collaborative program Compass Project. The two performances feature a range of original dance performances by Ballet 5:8 and guest companies Vivid Ballet (Hartford, CT) and Emma Elliott Dance (New York, NY) on the topic of navigating cultural tension with compassion. Compass Project stretches across time and space to explore some of the most pressing topics in our country and in our cities today. At times witty and satirical, and at times deeply emotional, the program is full of athleticism, power and poetry. The two performances (which are not identical) will be held on Saturday, April 7 at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 8 at 2:00pm at the Mark O’Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Attendees are additionally invited to attend a post-performance Q&A with artists and choreographers from the performance. Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for students and seniors, and $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 312-725-4752. Performance information is available at

A unique 12-dancer professional company, Ballet 5:8’s mission is shaped by a desire to engage audiences in conversation through innovative storytelling and breathtaking dance. Compass Project is based on the theme “navigating cultural tension with compassion” and is inspired by a desire 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 Ballet 5:8’s original Compass program (premiered in Chicago in November, 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, as well as one inspired by the 1917 Armenian refugee crisis, juxtaposed with the Syrian refugee crisis of our present day. Reviewer Kristi Licera of called Compass in Chicago “an evening of inspired choreography and thought-provoking performance.” Ken Norris, of WKTV Journal, reviewed Ballet 5:8’s 2017 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.”

In Ballet 5:8’s 2018 reimagining of the bill as Compass Project for New York City, collaborating companies Vivid Ballet and Emma Elliott Dance will also be contributing works and conversation in the post-performance Q&A. “I am excited to see all of our work on stage creating a meaningful show about navigating cultural tension with compassion,” says Emma Elliott, Artistic Director of Emma Elliott Dance. “The timing of this performance could not be more needed by our society and community in New York City.” The performance, as she describes it, “is about real issues, real stories, and navigating through our lives with honor, integrity, and compassion.”

Emma Elliott Dance will be performing three original works during the two performances. One, To the Least, deals with the topic of homelessness in New York City. Another, All of a Sudden, looks at the twists and turns of life. “When we feel we have nothing left,” says Elliott about the work, “there is always hope and redemption.” Vivid Ballet, under the direction of Elizabeth McMillan, will be contributing two works to the bill. One of these, Image of the Invisible, also explores themes of brokenness, vitality and redemption.

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.