Religious Arts

Religious Dance and Drama



When Jesus wanted to teach service, he dramatized the message taking a towel and washing feet.
When Mariam wanted to claim and thank God for freedom from slavery, she led dance with tambourine in hand.
Dance and drama to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

Some background and examples of religious dance and drama


Jesus’ suffering dramatized


San Fernando Passion Play

Spain has had the most continuous traditions of religious drama and dance. San Antonio carries on a many of these ways of evangelization, such as Pastorellas, Posadas, Passion plays, and Matachines.

San Fernando Cathedral Passion Play - Jonathan Cruz - Photographer – Editor. A yearly tradition for San Antonio, The San Fernando Cathedral puts a play together were families gather around and watch the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Produced by Jonathan Cruz. Published on Jan 10, 2013

The Passion Play is open to all religious denomination even to non-believers. Before the re-enactment, there's prayer first, reading of bible passages and message from the Archbishop which is said both in English and Spanish. Uploaded on Apr 22, 2011.

Good Friday: Jesus & Pontius Pilate. Good Friday tradition in San Antonio, Texas Uploaded on Apr 22, 2011.

Stations of the Cross. Passion of Christ "Via Crucis" re-enactment at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto of the Southwest, Oblate Missions, San Antonio, Texas Photos by Rudy Gonzalez for Oblate. Uploaded on Apr 22, 2011.

Puppet presentation.Stations of the Cross 4A Religion Class St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Church, San Antonio Texas. Uploaded on Apr 8, 2009.

Read more about drama in “Liturgical Drama,” by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, Collegeville Catholic Reference Library, CD-ROM (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001).


Our Lady of Guadalupe Drama


Jose Ruben De Leon as Juan Diego and Amalia Ortiz as Our Lady of Guadalupe at UIW

Virgen De Guadalupe Play in San Antonio Texas. San Martin de Porres Catholic Church. December 12, 2010. Uploaded on Dec 28, 2010


Matachines Dances


Matachines Dancers at St. Henry’s Church, December 12, 2009

Matachines dancing and paying homage to the Virgen Guadalupe in front of the San Fernando Cathedral. Uploaded on Dec 12, 2010

Traditional matachines group on San Antonio, TX performing in St. Alphonsus Parish hall on the Day of the Epiphany. See also and

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe 2010.A compilation of some of the dancing groups that come and celebrate at Guadalupe Church, near downtown San Antonio, TX. Uploaded on Feb 8, 2011

La danza guadalupana de Pablo Olivares Sr. en la iglesia San Alfonso, San Antonio, TX. Uploaded on Dec 27, 2010

DANZA CATEDRAL fiesta de san lorenzo cd juarez chihuahua. Uploaded on Aug 18, 2011




UIW students representing Mary and Joseph for a Posada prayer service

Posadas are processions with drama remembering that Mary, who was about to give birth, and Joseph were seeking shelter. Persons go from place to place asking for lodging and praying for all who need shelter. Finally they are welcomed and the community has a celebration.

Christmas Posada : Sonny Melendrez Community Center :: San Antonio, Texas. Families, gathered at The Sonny Melendrez Community Center to participate in this beautiful tradition.

Las posadas navideñas. Durante diciembre, en distintas partes del país, se celebran las posadas. Los residentes de Antiguo Cuscatlán, como cada Navidad, salieron a las calles para recrear el peregrinaje de María y José Uploaded on Dec 17, 2011.


Pastorellas or Shepherds’ Plays


Gabriel Zertuche dances “Pues Si Vivimos” at San Fernando as Archbishop Flores looks on.

Pastorellas or Shepherds’ Plays are about the angels announcing to the shepherd’s that they should go to see Jesus. Along the way the devil tries to tempt and stop them. The plays have come to depict the universal idea of the human journey towards God, but the things that tempt and delay or stop people along the way. Creative people are constantly telling the story in new ways and using humor to get attention.

Fragmento de la Pastorela Infantil 2010 de Chikicómicos del grupo Cómicos de la Legua de la UAQ. Dirigida por Victor Mendoza. Querétaro. Uploaded on Jan 25, 2011

Rogelio Guerra con 25 actores y músicos en escena, Claustro del Instituto Helénico del 16 al 30 de Diciembre. POSADA - PIÑATAS - PONCHE . Uploaded on Nov 1, 2010.


UIW students sharing a dance of hospitality at San Fernando Cathedral in the “Gifts from Many Cultures” Workshop.

Pastorela Mexicana realizada por los maestros Jubilados del SETE en Tijuana B.C. Diciembre 2011 Uploaded on Dec 17, 2011

LA PASTORELA MEXICANA Es una muestra de tantas y tan bellas tradiciones que tiene mi querida tierra. La pastorela es una representación teatral (en prosa o en verso) que bien puede ser seria y formal, hasta cómica y pícara, predominando esta última; Cualquier foro es bueno para representarla (en temporada navideña), desde la propia casa hasta el más elegante teatro y trata de las vicisitudes de los pastores por ir a adorar al niño Dios y las trabas que les pone el diablo para impedirlo. Uploaded on Sep 12, 2010

Read more about Hispanic traditions by clicking here to download Sister Martha Ann Kirk’s book, Dancing with Creation, Mexican and Native American Dance in Christian Worship and Education.

Sister Martha Ann’s “Arts for Christian Worship” Class, Fall 2017 danced to a musical version of St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of Creation” which was written by her good friend Brother Rufino Zaragoza, OFM.


Afro-Americans pray with deep feeling


Holy Redeemer Dancers share at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church "Ladies of Praise" San Antonio, Texas. Uploaded on Aug 15, 2010.


St. Raymond/St. Leo Catholic Church Adult Liturgical Dancers.Located in New Orleans, LA. Published on Jun 2, 2012

Praise Dance at the Rock Catholic Church, St. Louis


Vietnamese praise God with gentle grace


Dancers from Vietnamese Martyrs Church sharing at UIW the “Gifts from Many Cultures” workshop.

Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church Dang Hoa. Uploaded on Oct 9, 2011

Vietnamese Martyrs Celebration Annual Diocese of Charleston Vietnamese Martyrs Celebration held in November, 2012, at St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia, SC. 2012. Published onDec 5, 2012

Montagnard Dance On Christmas 2012 At Saint Mary Catholic Church

See also “Vietnamese Christians Sharing God’s Beauty in Sacred Dance and Drama” posted on the Sacred Dance Guild website with full color pictures and embedded media of video of dance.


In Filipino Culture, prayer is often expressed through movement


Catherine Cuasay shares a Filipino hymn with dance about the beauty of creation.

Liturgy of the Santo Niño of Cebu, celebrated January 15, 2012 at All Saints Catholic Church, Hayward California. Don Pribor directed the music and taught the children the Sinalog Dance. The Mass and Blessing was performed by Father Tony Herrera, with Father Fernando Cortez and Father George Byarugaba. The Homily was given by Stephen Mullin, Parish Life Director. And all the Pinoy Families brought their images of the Santo Nino.Uploaded on Jan 19, 2012.

LUWALHATI DANCE. First Performance (2nd mass) Santo Niño De Praga Parish January 20, 2013. Published on Jan 21, 2013


See also “From east to west and north to south, let us praise God. Gifts from many cultures enriching God’s people” Sacred Dance Guild Journal, Fall 2006 Vol 49, No. 1, p. 14 with invitation to the longer article with full color photos from the Worship Renewal Grant workshops,

Become a member of the Sacred Dance Guild and have many opportunities for education and networking.

For a good example of dance enriching worship, see St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. They remember the words of their patron saint who lived in the fourth century. In his commentary on the Psalms, St. Gregory wrote, “Once there was a time when the whole rational creation formed a single dancing chorus looking upward to the one leader of this dance. And the harmony of motion that they learned from his law found its way into their dancing.” The church has a huge icon of ninety dancing saints (and four animals), who wrap themselves in two large rings around the rotunda as they follow the lead of Jesus, the Lord of the Dance. Each Sunday the congregation circles around the altar joining in the joy of the heavenly group. See


Sister Martha Ann Kirk danced “I Will Raise You Up on Eagle’s Wings” for the wake of her mother Ada Koenig Kirk who had always encouraged her in dance. Sister first studied sacred dance with Carla De Sola.

Carla De Sola

Carla De Sola is one of the foremost dancers, choreographers, teachers, and authors in the field of religious dance in the United States in the modern period. In 2008 at the Sacred Dance Guild Golden Anniversary Festival De Sola was acclaimed as a “Living Legacy.” She teaches at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, in the Center for the Arts, Religion, & Education and at the Pacific School of Religion.

Carla DeSola's choreographed Sacred Dance for Easter Vigil Offertory 2011 at Holy Spirit Newman Hall, Berkeley, California. April 23, 2011.
Beyond Words: An Interfaith Ritual for Peace, co-created by Carla De Sola, Omega West Dance Company Published on Nov 13, 2012,

“Documenting a ‘Living Legacy’ On-line: Carla De Sola,” Sacred Dance Guild Journal, October 3, 2016, By Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D. Learn more of De Sola and of the forthcoming biography of her by Sister Martha Ann

A Glimpse of the God Project at St. Gregory's (Summer 2012)Catch a glimpse of the Summer 2012 God Project at St. Gregory's. Lynn Park leading photography and Carla De Sola lead sacred dance. Published on Jul 10, 2012

Performance of American composer Carson Cooman's work "I Have Seen the Lord: a Mary Magdalene Sequence" (2006) for SATB choir, alto saxophone, organ, and dancers at the Investiture and Recognition of Marc Handley Andrus as the Eighth Bishop of California in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The work was performed to a dance choreographed by Carla DeSola. (July 22, 2006)