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Ballet 5:8 Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

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NEW! Flash Sale for Ballet 5:8's Imagine Better performance. All tickets are now BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE beginning Wednesday, September 28 through October 3. Guests can use the code FLASH for this limited offer. 

Ballet 5:8

Ballet 5:8, a female and minority-led premiere ballet company and the “suburb’s best kept dance secret” as praised by See Chicago Dance, will celebrate “National Hispanic Heritage Month” with two fall performances in Chicago and the VIP Premiere of The Living Room Series at Chicago Landmark Colvin House to honor Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s Mexican American heritage. The first one-night-only program, Imagine Better, will take place October 15 at 7 p.m. at the historic Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture (2936 North Southport Avenue). Imagine Better is a breathtaking mixed bill with four original and diverse ballets featuring two world premieres by Julianna Rubio Slager and Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, alongside returning Ballet 5:8 fan favorites. Tiered tickets are on sale ranging from $15.00 to $60.00.

The second one-day-only program, Ver la Música, Oír la Danza, will take place November 12 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th Street) highlighting works that amplify Rubio Slager’s voice as a groundbreaking Latina choreographer. Performances are free to the public and tickets must be reserved in advance. Single tickets to both fall programs available at: Ballet58.org/Performance-Calendar. 

The Living Room Series was first inspired by stories that Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager recalled listening to while growing up in her grandparents’ living room about overcoming challenges as second generation immigrants in America. Ballet 5:8 now offers The Living Room Series as unique and custom curated performance experience packages that patrons and venues can book for events, intimate gatherings, house parties and more. “Dancers, a pianist and spoken word artists are brought directly into your homes! Serving as a ‘centerpiece,’ friends and families can enjoy meaningful, up-close balletic works that embody their own personal life experiences right in their living rooms,” said Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager. “The goal and vision of The Living Room Series hopes to ‘bring dance back to the people,’ as Alvin Ailey once said. And through exquisite dancing, help people come together to celebrate and fellowship again where isolation and quarantine at homes has discouraged many.”

Patrons can purchase tickets to the special VIP premiere of The Living Room Series and experience the site-specific and heartwarming work firsthand. VIP Premiere to take place at Chicago Landmark Colvin House on Thursday, September 8. Three timed entries available at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Single tickets are $40.00 each ticket and available at: Ballet58.org/Performance-Calendar

“At Ballet 5:8, our core values include empowering women and minorities to command space in the professional ballet scene and fearlessly create original and innovative works that tell diverse stories of the 21st century. It is our ambition to make ballet performances accessible, relatable and enjoyable to everyone,” said Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Juliana Rubio Slager. “We are excited to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and present at Athenaeum Center and National Museum of Mexican Art this fall. We are also incredibly honored to collaborate with Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and perform his first piece set on a Chicago-based company. The presence of his unique choreographic style in Chicago’s dance community is historic and thrilling for movers and audiences alike. Chicagoans can expect scintillating, honest and relevant ballet experiences truly unlike any other.”

ABOUT IMAGINE BETTER AND VER LA MÚSICA, OÍR LA DANZA PROGRAMS

IMAGINE BETTER | Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture (2936 North Southport Avenue)

Saturday, October 15 at 7 p.m.

Imagine Better is a breathtaking mixed bill celebrating diversity with four original ballets by Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager and Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The evening will feature the world premiere of Look to the East, which will be the 47th original work created by Rubio Slager with Ballet 5:8. Look to the East is a poetic and athletic exploration of the neo-classical form and inspired by the resurrection narrative.

Ballet 5:8 is proud to announce the forthcoming world premiere and new commission by Matthew Rushing as part of the Imagine Better program. Rushing had an illustrious career with Alvin Ailey, including becoming the Associate Artistic Director in 2020. Rushing is the recipient of a Spotlight Award, a Dance Magazine Award and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. This will be Rushing’s first collaboration with the artists of Ballet 5:8 during a two-week residency and marks the first time Rushing creates a piece on a Chicago-based company. Rushing’s piece will be based on the choreographer’s experience with liturgy and deepened spirituality, drawing from the Revised Common Lectionary. Athletic vignettes of themes including peace, confession, doctrine, a call to worship and more are brilliantly composed. Ballet 5:8 is thrilled to bring his world-class choreography and creative genius to Chicago stages.

Audiences will also enjoy two well-loved returning Ballet 5:8 fan favorites – Día de Los Vivos and Gospel Impressions. Día de Los Vivos originally premiered in 2021 and is set to music by Ezio Bosso. The title of the ballet is a clever play on the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos and addresses the topic of clinical depression. The work beautifully and viscerally tells the story of a young woman visited by family members who have passed on. The family encourages the young woman to continue living despite the looming despair and emotional oppression experienced. Día de Los Vivos is a deeply personal piece based on Rubio Slager’s experience with clinical depression. Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies from suicide. Countless others bear the crushing weight of depression in silence. Día de Los Vivos is a tribute to the men and women that fight each day to stay on this planet. It is a love letter to those who choose to fight the good fight, who choose to believe in hope; to honor all who choose to stay.

Gospel Impressions originally premiered in 2021 and is set to music by Rachmaninoff. The ballet is inspired by leading contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura’s exquisite paintings, The Four Holy Gospels. Fujimura’s work is layered, colorful and nuanced. Rubio Slager takes the visual masterpieces as a base and fleshes out Fujimura’s inspiration, philosophy and painting with movement and geometry that further illuminate the gospel stories. Patrons are invited to experience an evening of unparalleled artistry, athleticism and wonder with Ballet 5:8 to celebrate the Year of Chicago Dance.

VER LA MÚSICA, OĪR LA DANZA | National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th Street) Saturday, November 12 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Ballet 5:8 returns to the National Museum of Mexican Art to continue celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with high-spirited and vibrant performances featuring Día de Los Vivos, Mi Familia and other works that directly amplify Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager’s voice as a groundbreaking Latina choreographer. Originally premiered in 2015, Mi Familia is set to music by Ezio Bosso and drawn from the choreographer's personal experiences growing up in a multi-racial family. Mi Familia celebrates the beauty of family and relationships that can be experienced by all people, transcending racial and cultural differences. The work has a fun-filled flavor, utilizing traditional Mexican folklorico movements to create a lively, relatable picture that is sure to have audiences dancing along in the seats. Performances are free to the public and made possible by generous donations. Ballet 5:8 is excited to give back to the community by offering free shows that bring people closer together.

TICKET INFORMATION

Ballet 5:8 presents Imagine Better at Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture (2936 North Southport Avenue) on October 15 at 7 p.m. Tiered single tickets are available ranging from $15.00 to $60.00 based on seating and available online at: Ballet58.org/Performance-Calendar or on Athenaeum Center’s website: AthenaeumCenter.org/Events/2022/Imagine-Better/. Specific children, student and senior ticket prices are available. For groups of 10 or more adults, patrons can use the code: B58GROUP to redeem $5 off each ticket.

Ballet 5:8 will also present Ver la Música, Oír la Danza at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th Street) on Saturday, November 12 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Performances are free to the public and audiences must reserve tickets in advance at: Ballet58.org/Performance-Calendar.

Patrons can purchase tickets to the special VIP premiere of The Living Room Series and experience the site-specific and heartwarming work firsthand. VIP Premiere to take place at Chicago Landmark Colvin House on Thursday, September 8. Three timed entries available at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Single tickets are $40.00 each ticket and available at: Ballet58.org/Performance-Calendar

THE LIVING ROOM SERIES

The Living Room Series is a series of site-specific works in different homes and venues. Ballet 5:8 invites patrons and event planners to book special Living Room Series experiences where artists of the company are brought directly into living rooms or venues with customized, personalized and breathtaking performances complete with live piano music accompaniment and spoken word. Each individual performance will be curated by Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager and choreography will be informed by patrons’ unique generational life stories. This experience is suitable for events, celebrations, house parties, intimate gatherings and more.

Life happens in the living room. In the center of our homes, generations gather, wisdom is shared, and relationships are both built up and torn down. Through The Living Room Series, Ballet 5:8 recreates the cyclical stories that shape lives through meaningful, up-close and exquisite dancing. Some are playful, and some are tumultuous, but each living room moment shapes the story being carried out into the world. After the pandemic, Ballet 5:8 created The Living Room Series to help celebrate the return of live gatherings again in a heartwarming and imaginative fashion.

Patrons interested in booking The Living Room Series event at house parties, family events or venues can visit Ballet58.org/Living-Room-Series. The Living Room Series bookings are available all year round.

ONLINE PERFORMANCES 3-DAY RENTALS

Ballet 5:8 will continue to offer exquisite online performances with 3-Day Rentals available. Patrons are invited to experience Ballet 5:8’s innovative storytelling and breathtaking dances from anywhere across the world. Online performances are original works performed by Artists of the Company and filmed especially to present fantastic online viewing experiences. Online performances are perfect for watch parties, house parties, intimate gatherings, performance studies classes and more. For more information, visit Ballet58.org/Online. Exciting new online ballet bundles and packages to be released at a later date. Online ballets available to rent now include the following:

Shades of Refrain | $5
Choreography: Julianna Rubio Slager | Music: Joby Talbot

Originally premiered in 2017, Shades of Refrain is a modern day plunge into the deep end of human emotions. This dance peels back the layers of disguise and masquerade to reveal the naked human heart that all are accustomed to. Shades of Refrain is a 21st-century interpretation of the centuries old book of Psalms with a series of heart cries from the created to the Creator. Some are cries of joy and elation, while others are laments of despair. The ballet unravels the melody that underscores human existence and the search for meaning, finding a faithful answer in communion with the Creator.

Golden Sessions | $30
Choreography: Julianna Rubio Slager | Music: John Adams, Oliver Davis, Ezio Bossoo

Originally premiered in 2020, Golden Sessions is based on C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves. English only has one word for love, but Greek has four: Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape. Golden Sessions explores the various textures of the four Greek words for love, and how each one captures a unique aspect of love relationships that humanity experiences.

Dry Bones | $30
Choreography: Julianna Rubio Slager | Music: Les Tambours du Bronx and Scanner

Originally premiered in 2020, Dry Bones finds inspiration in the Book of Ezekiel and the famous story of dry bones rattling to life. The Prophet Ezekiel stares over a valley of dry bones, but when the Word of the Lord speaks over this scene of grim death, the bones begin to have tendons, flesh and skin. Breath reinvigorates death, and they stand to their feet–a vast army. Even in death, even when true life is so far gone that the bones have been bleached white by the sun, there is hope in resurrection.

The Space in Between | $20
Choreography: Julianna Rubio Slager | Music: Olafur Arnalds and Phillip Glass

Originally premiered in 2018, The Space in Between draws inspiration from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and explores the nature of eternity and the joy found on its shores. In Lewis’ works, Hell is not a place where a vengeful God tortures victims, but a place “where the gates are locked from the insider.” Lewis beautifully and truthfully writes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” The novel depicts a gray town where rain falls continuously and a man at a bus stop, on the brink of heaven and hell. The Space in Between finds its setting in this dreamlike place for storytelling.

ABOUT ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JULIANNA RUBIO SLAGER

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager studied under notable teachers from the New York City Ballet, the Vaganova Academy and Puerto Rican National Ballet. Rubio Slager enjoyed dancing under Barbara Smith at Greater Lansing Ballet during her training, and also under Kathy Thibodeaux and Sol Maisonet at Ballet Magnificat. Rubio Slager co-founded Ballet 5:8 in 2012 and is known for the unique ability to engage audiences in discussions of life and faith through exquisite choreography. As one of the few MexicanAmerican Artistic Directors and Resident Choreographers, Rubio Slager is a groundbreaking representation empowering minority women to command space in the professional ballet scene. Over the past decade, Rubio Slager has dedicated herself to training and mentoring young artists at the School of Ballet 5:8’s Pre-Professional, Conservatory and Trainee programs. Students from the School of Ballet 5:8 have been awarded contracts, scholarships and placements with world-class dance companies, colleges and schools across the country testifying to the unmatched quality of dance education Rubio Slager provides.

ABOUT GUEST CHOREOGRAPHER MATTHEW RUSHING

Matthew Rushing was born in Los Angeles, California. He began his dance training with Kashmir Blake in Inglewood, California, and continued his training at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. He is the recipient of a Spotlight Award and a Dance Magazine Award and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He was a scholarship student at

The Ailey School and later became a member of Ailey II. During his career Mr. Rushing has performed as a guest artist for galas in Vail, Colorado, as well as in Austria, Canada, France, Italy, and Russia. He has performed for Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as at the 2010 White House Dance Series. During his time with the Company, he has choreographed four ballets: Acceptance In Surrender (2005), a collaboration with Hope Boykin and Abdur-Rahim Jackson; Uptown (2009), a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance; ODETTA (2014), a celebration of "the queen of American folk music"; and Testament (2020), a tribute to Alvin Ailey’s Revelations created in collaboration with Clifton Brown and Yusha-Marie Sorzano. In 2012 he created Moan, which was set on Philadanco and premiered at The Joyce Theater. Mr. Rushing joined the Company in 1992, became Rehearsal Director 2010, and became Associate Artistic Director in January 2020.

ABOUT BALLET 5:8

Ballet 5:8 is a female and minority-led premiere ballet company recognized for remarkable artistic excellence, innovation and beauty. Mexican American Artistic Director, Julianna Rubio Slager, creates original and dynamic ballet experiences drawing from life, faith, current events and diverse perspectives that tell relevant stories of the 21st century. Rubio Slager brings to life ballets that are relatable and accessible to all people, delighting both the seasoned balletomane and the first time audience. Since its founding in 2012, Ballet 5:8 has presented more than 45 critically acclaimed ballets forging a robust repertoire, engaging and captivating communities in Chicago, the Midwest and across the nation. Headquartered in Orland Park, IL, Ballet 5:8 is the only professional touring company in Chicago’s South Suburbs and serves more than 400 students a year at the School of Ballet 5:8 as a cultural staple in the community. The School also has a Beverly Campus on Chicago’s South Side raising up the next generation of aspiring artists. For more information about Ballet 5:8, visit Ballet58.org and connect on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.

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