34. Is there a Jesuit Ballet Dancer?

Yes. And there were and are many of them! Fr. Bob VereEcke, SJ of Boston College, is one. In 1971, Fr. Bob started his passion to dance ballet. He introduced ballet in the plays he directed for the novices. When he asked his superiors if he could major in dance, he was surprised when they said yes. He then formally studied ballet at Santa Clara University. Since then he has not stopped dancing and tutoring young people to dance ballet for God. He has even formed his own dancing troupe, the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble, which stages plays and musicals with ballet dances. The Ensemble has even performed for the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, when the latter visited Boston.

The ballet tradition is not a recent phenomenon in the Society of Jesus. In fact, beginning 1658, the Jesuits have been part of the rich history of ballet by being teachers, choreographers, innovators and dancers of ballet. An article from the 1911 Encyclopedia has this excerpt about a Jesuit priest who contributed a lot to ballet tradition:

"One of the most complete books on the ballet is by the Jesuit, Claude Francois Menestrier, Des ballets anciens a modernes, 12mo (1682). He was the inventor of a ballet for Louis XIV. in 1658; and in his book he analyses about fifty of the early Italian and French ballets."

Many people thought that the only way to pray was by bowing or kneeling. Fr. Bob and a host of Jesuit ballet dancers and dance enthusiasts believe that to really praise God one must use one's entire body for the greater glory of His name. And dancing ballet is one great and graceful way to do it!

More on Dance and Spirituality here.


Blogger Mel Dias said...

There is an Indian Classic Dancer who is a Jesuit, Fr Saju George AKA Dancing Jesuit.http://www.jesuit.org/blog/index.php/2012/01/experiencing-god-through-dance/

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Blogger Maria Karolina said...

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. I am dancing, yoga and barre class lover. I feel good and flexible by doing these. I got to know many new things from your blog. Thank you very much. I am refreshed.

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