Ballet in Jesuit theatre in Vilnius

  • Helmutas Šabasevičius
Keywords: Vilnius, school theatre, Jesuit theatre, dance, ballet


The article analyses elements of dance in the Jesuit theatre in Vilnius University. These elements could be found in the performances produced from the end of the 16th century until the last years of Jesuit Order and the establishment of Educational Commission who took over the administration of the educational system in the Republic of Two Nations. With the help of scientific literature and programs of the performances, the productions with dance elements are presented describing their themes. The most important productions in this context are those titled as ballet, which were produced in Vilnius. These four ballets are an exception in the history of the Jesuit theatre in the Republic of Two Nations. These productions are “Ballet of Bacchus, god of drinks, with a happy beginning and sad ending”, “Ballet in the example of Orestes showing the punishment of gods onto the humans because of their lack of respect to the temples and their definite protection to those who search it looking for the help of gods“, “Ballet of the courageous man Hercules” and “Ballet of four human ages: spring as youth, summer as maturity, autumn as elderly and winter as senility”. They could be connected with some unknown teacher who worked in Vilnius in the middle of the 18th century and most probably originated from the French cultural milieu. This statement could be validated by the French prototypes of most of these ballets and the use of the word “ballet” in their titles, which was common in the French culture of this period.