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. 

Slager’s choreography has been performed at festivals and events across the Midwest: Dance Chicago, Project Dance, Chicago International Arts Festival, Detroit City Dance Festival. Beginning in 2014, Ballet 5:8 began touring nationally, bringing Slager's critically acclaimed ballets such as Scarlet, Compass, and The Stor(ies) of You and Me to audiences across the nation. In 2015, Slager was awarded the Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago for recognition and continued development of her choreographic work. 

In the short span of five years, Slager has enjoyed training and mentoring her first generation of aspiring artists in Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts' Pre-Professional and Conservatory programs, and in the Ballet 5:8 Trainee Program. She has had the joy of watching her students be accepted into many prestigious summer intensive, trainee and year-round programs, including 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 Bowker
Managing Director

Antonio Rosario
Conservatory Program Director


Emily Ratkos
Ensemble Program Director

Abigail Gray Gardner
Children's & Youth Division Director

Olivia Kruse
Assistant Children's & Youth Division Director


Brette Benedict
Trainee Program Ballet Mistress

Lorianne Barclay
Head of Wardrobe

Annika Grasman
Front Desk Team


Stephen Everson

Katie Hughes Schroeder

Stephanie Joe
Marketing & Development Associate


Laura Kalinski

Haley Kisch
Front Desk Team Lead, All-Abilities Instructor

Olivia Lane


Valerie Linsner

Jessica Lohr

Samuel Opsal
Instructor, Front Desk Team


Beth Patterson

Laura Peterman

Miranda Rubio


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

Jennifer Maniscalco, President
Director of Product Engagement (VIP), Sears Holdings Corporation

Lisa M. Wainwright, Secretary
Volunteer Coordinator at MorningStar Mission Ministries, Inc.

Susan Jillson, Treasurer
Chief Estimator at Walsh Construction

Dario Caravette
Managing Partner of Affiliated Companies

Tara Torkelson
Enablement Program Manager, ServiceNow

Eva JaBaay
Homeschool Mom and Classical Conversations Tutor