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Oct 3, 2022

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Julianna Rubio Slager, Artistic Director at Ballet 5:8. Slager, who is originally from Michigan, studied under many renown global dance experts and teachers. Upon moving to Chicago, Slager had the opportunity to work as a freelance artist, teacher, and choreographer in the Greater Chicago area. Eventually, she co-founded Ballet 5:8 in 2012. Ballet 5:8 just had its 10th anniversary and has grown immensely. It now has a professional company of 20 dancers and a school of over 400 dancers of all ages. Ballet 5:8 also has a touring company that tours 32 weeks every year.

Julianna’s hope is that her leadership and creative work at Ballet 5:8 will pave the way for other women and minorities in professional ballet — a mission that she is achieving! However, Julianna would be the first to admit that she can’t “do it all” and that the key to good leadership is delegation — finding your “zone of genius” and delegating your weak spots out to others who are strong in those areas. On the podcast, Julianna talks all things Ballet 5:8 and shares some great leadership tips on admitting weakness and equipping others to take over where you’re weak. 


Moving Quotes:

"For me, the biggest thing I learned about running a business is realizing what I'm gifted in. And, honestly, what I'm not. Because I'm not good at everything."

"Creativity is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration."

"Take small steps every day. Sometimes we overestimate what we can do in one day. And we underestimate what we can do in one year."

"As women leaders, we all feel sometimes like we're talked down to by people who may not feel that, as a woman, we're not capable of running an organization at this high of a level. But you have to always stay true to your inner voice and know who you are. And, very kindly, move past those people... Because they are not your people."

[On diversity in dance] "When you understand that you have a different perspective and you come from a different cultural background than the people around you, it allows you to share that part of you in such a special way through dance."

"If you're going to go into dance as a career, you don't want to do it with any sort of hesitancy or fear. If you do that, you can't put your full self into the auditioning process. Auditioning is brutal."

"You have a long life. You don't just have to pick one career... You just can't do it all at the same time."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:22: Julianna gives a high-level overview of Ballet 5:8, including all of their unique endeavors.

4:45: Julianna discusses how Ballet 5:8 continues to perform at an extremely high-level, even while their programs are so far reaching.

6:20: Julianna shares some advice for current or aspiring studio owners, including some words on the value of delegation and finding your “zone of genius.”

8:15: Slager discusses her studio’s deep relationships with other players in the Chicago arts scene.

11:15: Slager, who is herself a seasoned choreographer, gives some rich tips for anyone looking to choreograph — including some great tips for anyone in a creative slump.

14:43: Julianna takes some time to discuss her own dance journey and how she came to fully appreciate her cultural heritage.

20:23: Julianna gives some advice for any dancers weighing out the decision of whether to pursue higher education or dance full-time.

26:02: Slager explains her work in empowering women and underrepresented minorities through her work at Ballet 5:8.

30:17: Julianna casts some vision for the future of her studio.

32:55: Julianna shares some final advice around keeping a healthy perspective and playing the long game.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Julianna Rubio Slager

Ballet 5:8