Ballet 5:8 is a Christian professional performing company dedicated to serving the people of Chicago proper and surrounding areas through the creation and presentation of original works of art that are engaging, excellent, creative, and most significantly, purposeful. Some performances are designed to provoke discussion among the audience members, while others are dedicated to encouraging specifically Christian audiences. Regardless of the bent of each performance, Ballet 5:8′s staff and dancing artists are passionate about pursuing the art form of dance performance in an excellent manner not for the end of personal glorification or “showing off” of our individual talents, but rather, for the purpose of using the gifts we have been given to celebrate God and for the benefit of our audience members and the community at large.
Ballet 5:8 is a professional performing company modeled after the typical classical/contemporary ballet company, but inspired by the words of Romans chapter five, verse eight: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). The company currently boasts seven professional dancers and apprentices from around the world and a mixed repertoire of pieces set to a mix of traditional and modern music styles–but most importantly, a desire to use our art to connect with, encourage and inspire our audiences.
The School of the Arts is Ballet 5:8′s official training ground for students of all ages interested in dance. The school includes a pre-professional training program for students ages six through 18 who are interested in pursuing careers in professional ballet, a Children’s division with pre-ballet and other dance classes for students ages three and older, and an Open Division including ballet and fitness classes for children, teens and adults. The School of the Arts staff includes many of the professional dancing artists of the company and other experienced instructors who share Ballet 5:8′s desire to help students learn about dance in a constructive and uplifting environment. Students are able to put their hard work to use each year as they participate in two full-length original story ballets designed to be a blessing to the school families as well the community at large.
Ballet 5:8 had its beginning in 2009, when founding directors Julianna Slager and Amy Kozol first moved to Chicago. The city seemed to be brimming with creativity–a hub for artists of all kinds and dance companies of all varieties, from ballet to modern to ballroom, classical and contemporary, big and small. Still, one type of performance group remained unrepresented–there was not a single faith-based ballet company in the city or in the entire upper Midwest region.
The company was named during the winter of 2010, the “5:8″ included as a way to symbolize the summary of the Gospel–our motivation for dancing–found in Romans chapter five verse eight. Based on a lot of thought, networking, and most importantly, prayer, Kozol and Slager were beginning to sense that starting a faith-based company in Chicago could be something God was leading them to in the not-so-distant future.
In January of 2012, Kozol had a serious conversation with a good friend who had volunteered early on to pray with her and Slager about the company.
“I don’t think there’s anything left to pray about.”
In the weeks that followed, the sense of calling that Amy and Julianna had started to take for granted took on a new sense of urgency. After another round of serious prayer, it seemed clear that, for some reason, the time was right. Ballet 5:8 released audition information for the 2012-2013 performing season and, over the course of the following months, ended up with a cast of six professional dancers from as far as Australia who joined the company for its inaugural season.