Is ballet off-limits for Catholics b/c of dress?


#1

I am wondering if ballet and other dance disciplines are just plain off-limits to Catholics b/c the classic form-fitting dress (think leotards/tights, or Nutcracker attire) is prohibitive?

Obviously going to a restaurant or a friend's house in a dance leotard would not only be strange, but inappropriate. But does the Church make any exception for dance disciplines?

I'd appreciate sources (if there are any) to back up any claims either way... just so I'm sure I'm getting accurate info.:)

Thanks

p.s. The reason I ask is because I would like to get my daughter involved in some activity and I think she would love dance (I did as a kid). She's only 4 ,but I don't want to go down a slippery slope and have her dressing inappropriately while dancing when she's 17. If it's not appropriate then, I'd rather not start so that I don't have to pull her out at some point (and decide when that point would be).


#2

[quote="TaraJoBean, post:1, topic:243108"]
I am wondering if ballet and other dance disciplines are just plain off-limits to Catholics b/c the classic form-fitting dress (think leotards/tights, or Nutcracker attire) is prohibitive?

[/quote]

No.

[quote="TaraJoBean, post:1, topic:243108"]
Obviously going to a restaurant or a friend's house in a dance leotard would not only be strange, but inappropriate. But does the Church make any exception for dance disciplines?

[/quote]

The Church does not police what people wear to dinner.

[quote="TaraJoBean, post:1, topic:243108"]
p.s. The reason I ask is because I would like to get my daughter involved in some activity and I think she would love dance (I did as a kid). She's only 4 ,but I don't want to go down a slippery slope and have her dressing inappropriately while dancing when she's 17. If it's not appropriate then, I'd rather not start so that I don't have to pull her out at some point (and decide when that point would be).

[/quote]

Ballet is not immoral.


#3

See here, Russian ballet performs for Pope.

Of course, while not inherently immoral, certain specific ballets might be offensive. As with all art-- paintings, songs, etc.


#4

Ballet is not cheap or tawdry; it has artful redeeming qualities.

I would imagine it would be perfectly fine to participate.


#5

Whoa. I must admit, I am shocked. I almost didn't even ask b/c I thought sure the form-fitting leotards and all would be considered immodest. It seems pretty "case-closed" if the pope would allow a ballet to perform for him, personally!

But I wonder what this specific Russian ballet corp. dresses like? Do they wear the classic skin-tight bodice, tu-tus (or skirts), and tights?

If so, I am honestly confused as to the defining criteria of 'modesty.' I thought skin-tight clothes were always out.:confused:


#6

My daughter is four, this was her second year of ballet. I can understand the concern, but really if the kids are raised knowing that this is just “stage” and not something that carries out of the studio/off the stage and into the street/school/etc, then I cannot imagine there being a problem with it.

My daughter wore a black leotard with sleeves to just above her elbows, and then an over skirt. Her tights, were usually ballet standard or knit white/pink/holiday tights. Nothing inappropriate, BUT I have seen inappropriate for young kids at the studio.

I let my daughter play with “pretend nailpolish” (it’s got colour and sparkles in it, but peels off like glue:shrug: she loves it.) But I don’t let her leave the house like it. At least not intentionally :o

I wondered though the same thing when we returned to the church in January if I would have to remove her from ballet and was happy to find out we were okay.:thumbsup:


#7

The church doesn’t view dance as evil, unless it’s performed in a lewd or suggestive manner.

A leotard for dance class or a recital would is not considered be inappropriate, nor would a bathing suit for swimming be considered inappropriate.

You have to make the decision whether you, as a parent, consider a particular mode of dress appropriate. It should be that way whether your child is four or seventeen.


#8

But perhaps for something, like dancing or gymnastics or something of that nature, where you need the proper equipment to be able to preform properly, it’s not so much a matter of modesty.

The costumes are designed for dancers. I’ve a funny vision in my head of ladies trying to pirouette in oilskins. :smiley:

But “tight clothes” at church, or anywhere else where “tight clothes” are not necessary, it then might (most likely?) be a matter of immodesty.

hehe did that make sense? It’s getting later and I’m trying to finish some patterns up and my minds a mess. Even still if it doesn’t, I’m sure 1ke or someone else can properly explain it.


#9

Guess that rules out swimming too.

geez.


#10

OP, I think you should read up on what modesty really is, especially what its purpose is, since you are new to the Church. The concept is to protect your human dignity through your appearance - i.e. not turning yourself into a sex object. Using your body artistically, as through dance, or athletically, as in swimming, may require form-fitting clothes, and that's OK because it's part of the activity rather than part of showing off the body just for the sake of it.


#11

Hey and while you're at it try giving "Theology of the Body" by Pope JPII a good read. It might clear some things up for you.


#12

There is nothing wrong with ballet at all!! :slight_smile:

I danced (jazz, tap, and years and years of ballet… even on point) my entire childhood. The outfits are appropriate for the act of the dance. Basically, you wouldn’t wear ballet tights and leg warmers to a friends BBQ, to church, or to a wedding. It is the outfit appropriate for the situation.

I think that signing up your child for dance lessons (or whatever) is a great way to teach her responsibility and dedication. She may not be the best dancer out there (I certainly wasn’t :o), but I am sure that she will have a lot of fun, meet other kids, and learn about healthy physical exercise.


#13

There is nothing expressly sinful about form-fitting clothing, because there is nothing at all sinful about the form!!!

God designed our human bodies! Furthermore, He will restore them to us in Heaven via the bodily resurrection (pneumatikon soma).

To wear clothes that draw attention to one's form may or may not be sinful, depending on one's intentions.

But if the intent is not to draw attention but simply to enable body movement athletically or artistically (or both), then there is nothing at all wrong about it.

Even King David danced before the LORD.

ICXC NIKA.


#14

Ah, I'm starting to get a handle on this. I have an example that probably illustrates this very well.

My daughter did calisthenics for a few years. The costumes were form-fitting, but didn't seem provocative in any way... except for one routine at their concert that was done by the older girls (14 to 16 ish) - they sang "All I want for Christmas is you", and wore little Santa-style outfits with little short skirts and chest-enhancing tops and black knee high boots. A few jaws dropped (including mine). Hubby just thought it was really funny, and trampy.

It was, in my opinion, totally inappropriate.


#15

Remember that people with too much time on their hands and an interest in bullying others can make virtually anything sound sinful.

Ballet is fine. It's a gorgeous art that isn't my thing, but is still just fine for a Catholic to do.


#16

No it’s ok. At least my devoutly Catholic mom enrolled me in ballet as a child. My mom having grown up in a devout Irish Catholic family would have not enrolled me if there was a problem with it.


#17

[quote="TaraJoBean, post:1, topic:243108"]
I am wondering if ballet and other dance disciplines are just plain off-limits to Catholics b/c the classic form-fitting dress (think leotards/tights, or Nutcracker attire) is prohibitive?

no because it is appropriate attire for the activity, just like a bathing suit is appropriate at the beach

obviously if the group gets involved in productions that involve questionable material that could become a problem but you can keep your eye out for that.

[/quote]


#18

I agree with others that ballet is not off-limits. The attire is appropriate for the activity. I did ballet and jazz when I was a girl and everything we did was clean and fun. Now, of course, like in almost everything, there can be questionable or inappropriate dances. I used to volunteer for our city’s ballet in college so that I could see the shows for free and in a couple rare instances there were some lewd scenes (I’m thinking of a production of Carmina Burana) but that was the choreographer and director. Most of the time, the artform is beautiful and clean. For children, I doubt that dance instructors would be choreographing something lewd and inappropriate. If they do, then I’d complain.


#19

No, it isn't off limits for Catholics because of dress. You're more covered, actually, in ballet class (even though the clothes are formfitting) than in most athletic disciplines. In performance, most of the costumes are built over nude colored liners that cover the chest completely. You can't see that from the audience. Think about it--would anyone be able to assume the extreme positions and actions required by ballet in a completely strapless and backless tutu without it falling off?

I danced with New York City Ballet for twenty-two years. We had quite a few practicing Catholic dancers, and I was blessed enough to have been the RCIA sponsor of a fellow dancer who converted from Presbyterianism. Additionally, there is a Jesuit priest who danced for awhile at Boston Ballet and is now the head of the dance department at Boston College. Like all performers at that level, he danced in the relevant male costuming when onstage.

I doubt the Jezzies would let one of their number perform if ballet was considered immoral by the Church, but his superior approved his stage career. Naturally, performers have to be discerning and discriminating in the roles they accept, but the big companies generally shy away from the more provocative stuff.

Classical ballet is a marvelous art, and when I think of Theology of the Body, I can't help but recall my performing days. Performance at that level is truly a prayer if approached correctly. And one of my favorite dance-related quotes is from Albert Einstein who said, "Dancers are the athletes of God."

Most dancers don't wear dance wear outside of the studio, unless they are en route to class or home from class. We're pretty swaddled up, even in hot weather, to keep those muscles warm en route to, and we're in a hurry to get that itchy, gamy stuff off and hop in the shower afterward. If you see someone on the street with a leotard on, it's a sure bet she is NOT a ballet dancer!


#20

I was waiting for you to chime in on this one. I love all your posts! Thank you for writing them. :slight_smile:


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