Now in its seventh performance season, Ballet 5:8 debuts in Memphis in March 2019 with Compass, featuring five one-act ballets on navigating cultural tension with compassion. From an alien society to 1970s 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.
Compass, one of Ballet 5:8’s widely popular programs, uses contemporary ballet and storytelling to consider the pressing issues of our day — not in a political or divisive sense, but through the lens of compassion. The one-act ballets making up the program include "All God’s Children," inspired by the poems of African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth, and "The Mother," inspired by the work of Pulitzer Prize author and Chicagoan Gwendolyn Brooks.
Another work in the program, "Strangers & Angels," juxtaposes the 1917 Armenian refugee crisis with the Syrian refugee crisis of our present day. In addition to the four Compass ballets premiered in 2017, a new, yet-to-be-titled work will premiere in the 2019 tour. This new ballet explores the transformation of the human heart in one of our nation's darkest corners, the prison system. After all Ballet 5:8 performances, 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 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 Dancermusic.com 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.” After Ballet 5:8’s partnership with nonprofit World Relief for a Chicago Compass encore performance last season, World Relief Chicago Executive Director John Barcanic said “In the arts we find a means to express the inexpressible... In 'Strangers and Angels,' Ballet 5:8 carefully arrange refugees’ longings and fears, torments and victories and gently impress them on our souls in a way that leaves us distinctly richer for the experience.”
Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager is a 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.
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.