Scholars, dancers, pastors, and anyone interested in arts, worship, spirituality, or history can delight in the growing Sacred Dance Archives at the Graduate Theological Union Library in Berkeley, CA. Those doing articles, thesis, or dissertations will find quality primary documents and video. The materials can spark creativity in choreographers and give insight to historians and theologians. With the encouragement and support of CARE, the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education, three major sources are available: Carla De Sola Collection, Douglas G. Adams Collection, and the Margaret Palmer Taylor Collection of Sacred Dance.
Carla De Sola has given hundreds of her papers, programs, and videos to the GTU Archives to begin the Carla De Sola Collection. From the favorable reviews in the New York Times and Dance magazine in the 1960’s of the dance of this Julliard graduate, through directing the Omega Liturgical Dance Company in residence at St. John the Divine Cathedral, through choreography for gatherings of the United Nations, the National Council of Churches, the Catholic Liturgical Conference, and myriad other groups, and now through continued teaching at the Graduate Theological Union, De Sola has had a profound impact. Sister Martha Ann Kirk has been consulting this collection and interviewing De Sola about her life and creations to develop an oral history of her which could accompany the materials. The collection includes the inscription when Modern Liturgy Magazine recognized De Sola with the prestigious Bene Award, “With an eye not only on ecumenical, but interfaith dialogue, her art embraces peace and justice. She dances on holy ground, always seeking to awaken people to the needs of planet Earth. Such a caring artistry, combined with a deep concern for liturgy, makes Carla De Sola the most influential performing artist of the last 20 years.”
According to the GTU Library website, “Doug Adams, 1945-2007, was a professor in worship and the arts at the Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union both in Berkeley, California from 1976 to his death from cancer in 2007. Adams was an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He taught courses, lectured and conducted workshops nationally and internationally in worship, art, dance, and humor as well as authoring books on these subjects, articles for journals and newspapers, and encouraging, collaborating with, and editing books by other authors. He was a leading member of the Sacred Dance Guild in the United States and Canada. In 1987, Adams founded the Center for the Arts, Religion and Education (CARE) which became an affiliated member of the Graduate Theological Union.” The GTU Library Collection “contains Adams’ writings, published and unpublished, edited works, lectures and teaching materials, sermons, working files for organizations and projects in which Adams participated, and collected research materials. Media formats include video in film and VHS tapes, audio in cassette and reel-to-reel tapes, and glass art slides. Finding aid contains complete lists of video and audio tapes, and art slides.” For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/DougAdamsCollection .
The life of Margaret Palmer Taylor, one of the early leaders in the Sacred Dance Guild can be studied in Archives at GTU. The website notes: “Margaret Palmer (1908-2004) was a pioneer in sacred dance in America. Born in Oakland, California, she was a daughter of a Congregational minister. The family moved to Honolulu in 1917, where she learned creative dance in school. She continued to study dance, and earned her B.A. at Oberlin College in 1930, later attending Chicago Theological Seminary, 1931-32. Her first husband, Chester B. Fisk, was a minister, and Margaret began to incorporate sacred dance in the church worship services. She continued to expand her dancing, organizing rhythmic choirs and teaching in workshops, festivals, and classes in many denominational and college settings. She interpreted and choreographed dances for worship services well into her 90’s. On November 16, 1960, she participated in a consultation on sacred dance by the Department of Worship and the Arts, National Council of Churches, at Riverside church in New York. Participants included Ruth St. Denis.” The Archives include Worship the Lord, 1948, Vimeo: Worship through Symbolic Movement, 1963, on Vimeo; and other resources and images. See http://tinyurl.com/MargaretPalmerTaylorCollection.
These archives are well situated at the Graduate Theological Union since the library has a fine collection of books on religious arts. Students can concentrate in “Religion and Arts” when seeking masters or doctoral degrees. This area of concentration includes visual arts, film, dance, drama, literature, and music in their contemporary as well as historic expressions. For more information about these archives or to arrange for a visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call David Stiver, Special Collections Librarian, at 510-649-2523.
(Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D., a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word, hold a doctorate in Theology and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union. As part of her studies there, she wrote Dancing with Creation: Mexican and Native American Dance in Christian Worship and Education and Celebrations of Biblical Women’s Stories: Tears, Milk, and Honey. See more http://www.uiw.edu/holylandtour/kirk.html)