The Carla DeSola Sacred Dance Collection

Finding aid created by Graduate Theological Union staff using RecordEXPRESS
Graduate Theological Union
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, California 94709
(510) 649-2523/2501

Descriptive Summary

Title: The Carla DeSola Sacred Dance Collection
Dates: 1964-2016
Collection Number: GTU 2010-7-01
Creator/Collector: DeSola, Carla Eaton, Arthur (1917 – 2008) Omega West Dance Company Omega Liturgical Dance Company
Extent: 20 linear feet (16 record boxes and 4 5” boxes)
Online items available
Repository: Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California 94709
Abstract: The collection documents the career of Carla DeSola and sacred dance: performances, writings, photographs, videos and teaching. She has been a leader and innovator in the sacred dance community since the Sixties.
Language of Material: English


No restrictions.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

The Carla DeSola Sacred Dance Collection . Graduate Theological Union

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated over time by Carla DeSola. Box 8 (videos) was received in July-August 2010; boxes 1-7 were received 12/20/12; 10 more boxes (9 VHS, some Beta and Sony; 1 photos) were received 3/19/14.

Biography/Administrative History

Carla DeSola (1937 - ) is a leader in sacred dance in the United States. She founded successful sacred dance companies in New York City and the Bay Area. In the Bay Area, she has taught at Pacific School of Religion (PSR), part of the offerings by the Center for Art, Religion and Education (CARE). In 2008, she was declared a “Living Legacy” during the Sacred Dance Guild Golden Anniversary Festival. DeSola grew up in New York City in a non-religious Jewish family. She attended City College of New York and received a diploma in 1960 from Juilliard School of Music, Department of Dance, where Jose Limon was her major teacher. She continued her study of dance under Valerie Bettis (1919-1982). In 1992, DeSola received her MA from Pacific School of Religion. During the Sixties, she became interested in Catholicism, attending services in Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Community. She performed her first sacred dance during a worship service there. In 1974 she founded the Omega Liturgical Dance Company, which became based at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Upon her move to Berkeley, California, in the 1990s, she founded Omega West Dance Company. In 1980, she married Arthur Eaton (1917-2008), a native of the Bay Area and a social worker and psychotherapist. He filmed and videotaped many of the dances in the collection. Since 2014, Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D., Professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas, has been working on a biography of DeSola. While the biography is still in process, she has promoted DeSola’s influence on sacred dance in modern times through posting biographical materials and sacred dance performances online. A grant from the Center for Art, Religion and Education supported the processing of the collection and the digitization of over 100 VHS tapes.

Scope and Content of Collection

Carla DeSola’s work as dancer, teacher and choreographer is documented. The collection consists of photographs and videos of performances and activities, along with announcements, clippings and ephemera.

Indexing Terms

Dance -- Religious aspects -- Christianity
Religious dance
Modern dance -- Study and teaching
Omega Dance Company
Omega West Liturgical Dance Company
Pacific School of Religion
New York, NY
Berkeley, Calif

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