The World Will Be Saved By Beauty

With hopes of saving the world I went to graduate school to earn degrees in social work and theology. I was starting my career of full-time social work when I was invited to audition for a modern dance company.

Here I was, helping the elderly and the forgotten, working for justice – receiving full benefits and a hefty salary. But dance called me to unite my mind and body, to escape the partiarchial heirarchy of agency work and stretch my creative side. What was I to do?

Dostoyevsky said, ‘The world will be saved by beauty.’ I read this in the context of a catholic worker books study. I expected to hear that the world would be saved by feeding the poor and protesting the war. ‘the world will be saved by beauty?’ What does that mean? The mystery of these words invited me to dance–they blessed me in leaving social work.

In the past four months, I have discovered how dance can be an an art of hospitality and peacemaking – of protesting violence and making space to share joy or deep lament.

Dance can express truths and emotions that are deeper than language, allowing us to envision a more peaceful world. And yet, sometimes as a I watch a dance performance, I think, ‘This is ridiculous, all this time rehearsing for such a brief offering on stage.’

Maybe dancing doesn’t make sense in a time when our country is at war, or a time when there is great disparity between the rich and the poor. But for me, the act of dancing has become an act of resistance. An act of hope. A way of praying a new world into being.

–Katie Brennan, “Dancing Protest” from Geez Magazine


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