Ballet 5:8’s Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Julianna Rubio Slager, is originally from Spring Arbor, Michigan. Slager studied under notable teachers from Ann Arbor Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, the Vaganova Academy and Dance Theater of Harlem. She danced with Greater Lansing Ballet, Ballet Magnificat and as a freelance artist, teacher and choreographer in the Chicago area prior to the creation of Ballet 5:8. She is blessed to be married to Jeremy Slager, the Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Bible Church, and she lives in south Chicago along with their sons Judah and Jacob.
As an artist, Slager has a great desire to contribute to the marketplace of cultural, philosophical and religious dialogue that has shaped the course of society for centuries. For this reason, she often chooses subject matter from current social issues, great literature and religious writings. She believes that our society is in need of peaceful catalysts for discussions on the deep moral and ethical topics of our day. This is what she aspires to give to the audience, a thought-provoking performance, free from the constraints and prejudices of spoken language, in order to allow the inward significance of each issue to surface.
Ballet 5:8 Ballet Mistress Lauren Ader-Cumpston began her dance training at an early age in Conifer, Colorado. In 2004 she began to pursue training in classical ballet and studied under Nikoloz Makhateli and Anastasiya Buechele in Denver Colorado. In 2010, Lauren had the opportunity to train at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York City and studied under teachers such as Gelsey Kirkland, Rinat Imaev, Karina Elver and Lyubov Fominich. While in New York, Lauren also performed with GKA’s Studio Company and danced in various demi-soloist and soloist roles in repertoire including The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Paquita, “Cygnets” from Swan Lake, “Pas de Six” and “Ballabille” from Napoli, among others. Lauren moved to join Ballet 5:8 as a Company Artist with Ballet 5:8 in 2012 and was promoted to Lead Company Artist in 2014. With Ballet 5:8 Lauren has performed many principal roles including Job in The Story of Job, the Spring Soloist in Four Seasons of the Soul, Darius in Belteshazzar: A Perilous Tale, and The Human in Interplay.
Trainee Ballet Mistress Brette Benedict started dancing at a very young age but began to study ballet seriously under the direction of Mrs. Geiger after moving to Michigan at the age of 12. Her last two years of high school she moved to Philadelphia to study at the Rock School for Dance Education. Brette was then accepted to the Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University and got her Bachelor of Science in Ballet. Upon graduation Brette received an apprenticeship with the Rochester City Ballet and was promoted to dancer in 2013. Throughout her ballet career she has had the privilege of performing in many ballets including: soloist roles in Balanchine’s Serenade, Western Symphony, Raymonda, Who Cares?, and principle roles in Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo as the Rancher’s Daughter, Anthony tudor’s Lilac Garden as Caroline as well as Twyla Tharp’s Noir. Brette been a Company Artist with Ballet 5:8 since 2014 and was promoted to Lead Artist in 2017.
Antonio Fernández started dancing when he was fifteen at Ballet Hispanico. He went on to study at the prestigious Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet under Lyubov Fominich, Vera Soloveyva, and Nikolay Levitsky. Antonio graduated from the Academy and joined The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet (GKB) in 2013. He performed many demi-soloist, soloist, and principal roles in GKA's and GKB's performances. Antonio is also a Flamenco dancer who has gone to Spain to study the Andalusian art form. In 2014, Antonio won second place in the Flamenco Certmane Competition held in Lincoln Center, NYC. Antonio danced at Ballet Fantastique in Eugene, Oregon as a Soloist throughout the 2015/2016 season and also recently had the honor of performing with the Eugene Symphony at the Hult Center for the performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon. Antonio joined Ballet 5:8 in 2016 and was promoted to Solo Artist in 2017.
Samuel Opsal started dancing at the age of 16 in Pullman, WA. In 2014 he received a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts, graduating magna cum laude. While attending Cornish he was granted multiple awards for academic and artistic achievement. After college Samuel worked with Iyun Harrison’s Ashani Dances in Seattle and then moved to Pittsburgh to train in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Graduate Program. His performances include PBT’s Le Corsaire, Sleeping Beauty, and La Bayadere. As a guest artist he has performed principal roles in Giselle, Firebird, and Swan Lake. In 2015 he also had the opportunity to choreograph a duet that was performed by PBT’s ensemble group. Samuel joined Ballet 5:8 in 2016 and is currently performing with Ballet 5:8 as a Company Apprentice.
Summer Smith grew up in South Jersey, where she began dancing at a young age. In high school, Summer decided to begin her serious training at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. During this time, she received scholarships to study at Orlando Ballet, and in New York, at American Ballet Theatre. Following highschool, Summer attended The University of the Arts for Ballet and Painting. At Uarts, she was selected to perform works by Ronen Koresh, Christine Cox and Anastasia Babeyeva. She also worked with Douglas Becker, of the original Frankfurt Ballet, for his staging of "The Vile Parody of Address" by William Forsythe. Summer joined Ballet 5:8 in 2014 and is currently performing with Ballet 5:8 as a Company Artist.
Trainee Program faculty is subject to change and may also include Ballet 5:8 Company Artists.