Directors & Staff

Julianna Rubio Slager
Artistic Director

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Julianna Rubio Slager is originally from Spring Arbor, Michigan. Slager began her dance training with Mrs. Lori Ladwig and went on to study under notable teachers from Ann Arbor Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, the Vaganova Academy and Puerto Rican National Ballet. Slager enjoyed dancing under Barbara Smith at Greater Lansing Ballet during her training, and also under Kathy Thibodeaux and Sol Maisonet at Ballet Magnificat. Upon moving to Chicago, Slager had the opportunity to work as freelance artist, teacher and choreographer in the Greater Chicago area. Slager was instrumental in the co-founding of Ballet 5:8 in 2012. Beginning in 2014, Ballet 5:8 began touring nationally, bringing Slager's critically acclaimed ballets such as The Space in Between, Scarlet and Compass to audiences across the nation. Slager is a groundbreaking figure within the ballet industry, as one of the few Mexican-American Artistic Directors and Resident Choreographers of professional ballet companies in the world. She hopes that her leadership and creative work at Ballet 5:8 will pave the way for other women and minorities in professional ballet.

Slager has been invited to teach at over 50 schools across the nation as a Master Teacher during her tenure with Ballet 5:8 and has enjoyed training and mentoring several generations of aspiring artists at Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts. She has had the joy of watching her students gain admittance into many prestigious programs, including the Miami City Ballet, the Kirov Academy, Pittsburg Ballet Theater, Houston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Joffrey Ballet Trainee Program, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Ellison Ballet, School of American Ballet, and others.

Amy Kozol Sanderson
Executive Director

Lauren Diaz
Managing Director

Abigail Gray Gardner
Studio Manager


Brette Benedict
Director of Trainee & Conservatory Programs

Emily Ratkos
Ensemble Program Director

Olivia Kruse
Children's & Youth Division Director


Lorianne Barclay
Head of Wardrobe

Margaret Davis

Libby Dennen
Rehearsal Assistant


Kennedy Ditzhazy
Instructor, Front Desk Team


Chance Ennis


Annika Grasman
Stage Manager


Lezlie Gray

Laura Kalinski

Haley Kisch
Front Desk Team Lead, All-Abilities Instructor


Valerie Linsner

Jessica Lohr

Samuel Opsal
Instructor, Front Desk Team


Beth Patterson

Laura Peterman
Instructor & Social Media Associate

Melanie Rodrigues


Miranda Rubio
Instructor & Social Media Assistant

Emma K. Schanchi


Brandon Welch


Hannah Welch


Board of Directors

Rather than having an owner, like a for-profit business, Ballet 5:8 is managed by its Executive and Artistic Directors and is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is made up of a group of community members, representing a wide range of professional expertise, who volunteer to oversee the organization, ensure that it is operating with integrity, and that it is always working to fulfill its stated mission. 

Board of Directors

Lisa M. Wainwright, President
Customer Service Specialist - Business Banking, PNC Bank

Susan Jillson, Treasurer
Chief Estimator, Walsh Construction

Linda Jillson, Secretary
Expert Solutions Developer, Acxiom

Dario Caravette
Managing Partner, Affiliated Companies

Tara Torkelson
Enablement Program Manager, ServiceNow

Eva JaBaay
Homeschool Mom and Classical Conversations Tutor