Alumni Spotlight: Libby Dennen

When Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts opened its doors in 2012, twelve-year-old Libby Dennen was one of the first students to begin attending classes. Now age 17, Libby has graduated from the School of the Arts and the Trainee Program and is taking her place as an apprentice in Ballet 5:8's professional company for the 2017-18 Season. 

We took the opportunity to catch up with our alumna, Libby Dennen, to find out all about her new position! 

Q. When did you start dancing?

A. I started dancing when I was three years old, through the park district. As I fell in love with dance, I transferred studios and began training under Julianna Slager (before Ballet 5:8 even existed!). I began training at Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts when it opened. 

Photo by Lana Kozol

Photo by Lana Kozol

Q. What does a day in the life of an apprentice look like?

A. Lots of dancing! Ballet class begins at 9:30 every morning, and I like to get there around 45 minutes early to ensure that I have enough time to properly warm up. Our technique class finishes with lunch and devotions. This is a small part of what makes Ballet 5:8 so special; that everyone takes this time to regroup through studying the Bible. After our break, we rehearse all of the material we are performing for around two and a half hours. All in all, most weeks during the company season include about 30-35 hours of dancing a week.  

Q. Can you tell us about what inspires you to dance?

A. The unique aspect of dancing in a school with its own professional company is that I'm constantly surrounded by professional dancers. I have amazing inspiration right in my own classes! Two people who really stick out to me are Ms. Brette, Lead Artist with Ballet 5:8, and Ms. Laura a Solo Artist with Ballet 5:8. They show me how important it is to work hard. These two role models show me that it isn't all about perfect turn out or 180 degree extension, but it is about the effort you put into each class. 

Q. Is there a piece of scripture that encourages you as you pursue your dance career?

A. "Let your roots grown down into Him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:7). This is the verse that motivates me because it reminds me that my foundation is in Christ and not in dance. I'm comforted by this verse because I know that God has a plan for me, and I can trust Him no matter where He takes me. 

Libby Dennen in "Beyond the Nutcracker" || Photo by Lana Kozol

Libby Dennen in "Beyond the Nutcracker" || Photo by Lana Kozol

Q. Can you tell us what makes Ballet 5:8 so special to you?

A. I've grown up in Ballet 5:8 and all of the teachers and students are my family. Being an apprentice is such an honor. At Ballet 5:8, I have the opportunity to tell stories that don't get told anywhere else. Ballet 5:8 tells stories of real emotions, real issues, real people; and we start conversations about them all. I love the athleticism of ballet, but the opportunity to share something with an audience is indescribable. We don't always see the fruit, but God has called Ballet 5:8 to plant the seed, and I'm so thankful to be a part of it. 

Be sure to watch Libby and all of the Ballet 5:8 company members this upcoming season! For more details, visit