Ballet 5:8 tours to Atlanta, poses questions of eternity

by: Ashley Gibson

Photo credit: Lana Kozol, Courtesy of Ballet 5:8

Ballet 5:8, a professional performance company based out of Chicago, will grace the stage of Kennesaw State University’s Dance Theater with its renowned Christian storytelling on Saturday, March 14. In their second time ever touring to Atlanta, they will present The Space in Between, a dynamic one-act ballet choreographed by Artistic Director Julianna Rubio Slager. The ballet, inspired by C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, deals with real-life, weighty questions of eternity and encourages viewers to look ahead into what will happen after this life. The program will also feature two other works: Of Splendors and Horrors and Meditations.

Slager begins her choreographic process of translating literature into movement by distilling down the essence of the story. She then looks for ways to convey the same story through movement and emotion. Her desire behind The Space in Between was for the message to be able to resonate clearly, even with people who have never read the book.

“When you’re a Christian creating art, it doesn’t necessarily change the nuts and bolts. I’m still thinking through steps and counts and music and formations, but I think what is totally different is the intention that I put into the work and even the intention that the dancers put into the work because it comes from a deep well and foundation of faith,” said Slager.

Continuously drawing from its deep-rooted faith, Ballet 5:8 seeks to make its shows as accessible as possible, offering reasonable ticket prices that rarely exceed $30-$35 plus a multitude of discounts. Slager believes that the desire to tour and bring dance to people of all cultures and walks of life goes hand-in-hand with her personal Christian ideals. The company presents affordable work onstage and seeks to break the barrier between dancers and audience members by also hosting a talkback after the show to stir up conversations.

“As Christians, we believe that every person is important. We believe that every person should have the opportunity to experience beauty and hope so that’s why we’re so passionate about accessibility. I think that missions work in general can sometimes be seen as proselytizing, but I think from my perspective, sharing the Gospel looks a lot more like a conversation with a friend,” said Slager.

The tour’s cast includes an Atlanta native among the ranks, Katelyn Roth. In her second year as a trainee with Ballet 5:8, Roth grew up in Gwinnett County and trained at Bufford School of Ballet, later training with the Ballet Conservatory of North Georgia. She stayed there for a year before auditioning for Ballet 5:8, where she has now been for a little over a year and a half.

Knowing Roth’s personal ties to the city, friends and family have eagerly been asking her since Ballet 5:8 announced the tour if she would be coming to Atlanta. “A lot of my family and friends haven’t seen me dance in a few years so I’m really excited to be able to get the chance to perform in front of them,” said Roth.

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