About The Dances of Universal Peace
From the beginning of time, sacred movement, song and story have brought people together - at times of seasonal ceremony and celebration, as part of everyday life and life passages, in daily renewal and meditation. The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless tradition of Sacred Dance.
The crowning life achievement of Sufi teacher and Zen master Samuel L. Lewis, the Dances set scriptures and sacred phrases from the world's spiritual traditions to music and movement. The Dances are transformative spiritual practice, invoking an embodied sense of unity, presence and compassion and touching the spiritual essence within ourselves. Offered in an atmosphere of safety, authenticity and mindfulness, the Dances evoke a unified experience of movement, sound, breath and sacred phrase.
Murshid Sam, as he was known to his Sufi students in the 1960's, brought forward the Dances, meditative walks and other esoteric practices to awaken the hearts and minds of his Sufi students and create an ecstatic experience of unity. The Dances today remain an integral practice of many who seek to hold to their true nature and rest in the Unity of all.
A Visit to the Dances
The Dances are taught today in much the same way as Samuel Lewis presented them. No musical or dance experience of any kind is required and everyone is welcomed to join in. Participation, not presentation, is the focus. No special attire is required and dancers need not bring a partner.
Participants join hands forming a circle with the Dance leader, and possibly musicians, in the center. The leader teaches the sacred phrase, melody, and movements for each Dance and perhaps some context about that particular Dance. The teaching is always brought from a compassionate heart in a comfortable, quiet, and often sacred setting. When Dance lyrics include sacred phrases in native languages, attention is given to ensure that all have ample opportunity to pronounce the unfamiliar words comfortably and correctly. Most Dances are only four lines long and repeated many times, so learning is usually quick and easy - within ten minutes dancers are moving, singing, and sharing together.
The more than 400 Dances include themes of peace (both inner and outer), healing (the Earth, individuals, and the global family), and the celebration of life's great mystery. Dancers focus on the truth contained in the sacred phrase or other text set to music and movement in the Dance. Dancers commonly experience a collective peace, harmony, a sense of solidarity and community, and insight into the underlying universality of all the spiritual traditions of the Earth. A greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures, as well as one's own path or religion, is often gained.
The mood of the Dances is infinitely variable, evoking feelings of love, joy, peace, compassion and ecstasy. The focus is on the sacred phrase, which often points to truths about Life which cannot be put into words. The dancers' experience flows out in the context of sacred presence to one another and to the group as a whole. An experience of the Unity of the human family with all of Life and a taste of one's essential nature are among the gifts the Dances bring to so many who come in contact with them.
A Worldwide Family, A Grassroots Movement
Since the late 1960's, the Dances have spread throughout the world, touching more than a half million people in North and South America, eastern and western Europe, Russia and the Baltic countries, India, the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand. (Click on Worldwide Network to learn more.) Further networking and citizen diplomacy through the Dances have occurred in South Africa, Bosnia and the Middle East. New grassroots Dance circles are continually springing up around the globe, with over two hundred dance circles meeting weekly or monthly in the United States alone. (See North America for more information.) The Dances are also shared in schools, therapy groups, prisons, hospice houses, drug rehabilitation centers, homes for the developmentally disabled, retirement villages, holistic health centers, and ecumenical worship celebrations.
The stream of blessing and vision of human liberation behind the Dances is carried forward today by the Sufi Ruhaniat International, the Sufi order established by Murshid Sam before his passing, and by the Guidance Council which oversees training and certification of Leaders and Mentors.
People worldwide yearning for Unity have found in the Dances of Universal Peace a renewing and inspiring practice, based in religious truth and an embodied spirituality. The Dances open us to rememberance of the natural human state - unguarded, authentic and free. They continue to be, as Samuel
Lewis envisioned them, a way to make liberating life-energy and the "peace that
passes all understanding" a reality for all who come in contact with them.
A Window on the Dances
"Toward the One" - The views of Dance Leaders and participants from North and South America at a gathering in Colomiba.
Here the late Jeanne Ayesha Lauenborg creates sacred atmosphere and attunement
in presenting the Dances of Universal Peace.
Eat, Dance & Pray Together
With footage of Murshid Samuel Lewis, Ruth St. Denis and Hazrat Inayat Khan, this excerpt from Anahata Iradah's video "Eat, Dance & Pray Together" about the Dances of Universal Peace captures the spirit of this worldwide movement of joy and love. The voice of Ruth St. Denis is heard saying, "Those who are ever moved in the rhythm of inward joy, let’s dance now, let us mark a date for the world to be better, let us help to make it better.” To order the complete "Eat, Dance & Pray Together" video on DVD or VC visit Anahata's web store at www.traveling-light.net/emporium-DUP.shtml.
Invitation to the Dance
Still wondering what the Dances of Universal Peace are about? You can view Invitation to the Dance an introductory video about the Dances in the words of Dancers, produced by Dennis and Sky Majida Roshay.