Dances of Universal Peace International
The Guidance Council holds in trust the transmission of the Dances of Universal Peace and Walking Meditations in the lineage of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis. Four to six Senior Mentors, appointed by the Pir of the Sufi Ruhaniat International on a rotating basis, have the responsibility of guiding leaders and mentors by encouraging their spiritual expansion and personal development, supporting learning opportunities, setting guidelines for certification and for mentor acknowledgements, recognizing mentors, and upholding standards of conduct and human relationship that are in keeping with the transmission of the Dances of Universal Peace.
Darvesha Victoria MacDonald – Chair (Silver City, New Mexico email) has served as chair of the Guidance Council since June 2007 and on the DUP Interantional board of directors since January 2008. She was a member of the original DUP International board (then PeaceWorks INDUP) at the time of its inception in 1987. She has travelled extensively worldwide leading the Dances. Her major focus of the last ten years has been seeding the Dances in South America, particularly in Colombia, and encouraging local leadership and mentorship.
A co-founder of Wilderness Dance Camp, Darvesha has spearheaded revision of the Leader and Mentor guidelines. Darvesha is a Murshida in the Sufi Ruhaniat International, a Senior Mentor of the Dances of Universal Peace, a Ziraat Farmer, and a Buddhist practitioner.
She writes, "When I found the Dances and Walks in the eighties, I felt
like I was stepping into a swirling Zendo. Here I could continue to do my Buddhist sitting practice of self-witnessing, in action with sound: the perfect place to practice meditation in action." The Dances catalyzed profound changes and transformation in her being. She continues, "I know, from my own experience, that the Dances create a therapeutic and transpersonal environment, where one can dwell in spacious awareness, witnessing one’s own emotions rising and passing, within the loving glance and touch of another, who is there with acceptance and no agenda to ‘fix’ or change. Now, so many years later, I still feel my heart continuing to expand when I am in dance circles." Darvesha's website is http://darvesha.net/.
Neil Douglas-Klotz (Saadi Shakur Chishti) (Scotland, UK, email) co-founded the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace in 1982 together with Murshida Tasnim Fernandez of the Sufi Order International, a project blessed and encouraged by Pir Moineddin Jablonski, the spiritual successor of Murshid Samuel Lewis. The project launched a network and resource center for a wider circle of those wishing to share the Dances and Walks worldwide.
Saadi and Tasnim also co-founded the original Mentor Teachers Guild and co-wrote the original guidelines for training and certification as well as the ethical agreements. They initiated the first camp solely dedicated to the Dances and Walks, which was held at Lama Foundation in New Mexico in August 1984, and also developed the training model still used today by many Dance mentors.
Saadi has been the channel for more than a hundred Dances, including about 40 from the Aramaic words of Jesus. Over the past 33 years he has presented the Dances and Walks at many conferences and colloquia internationally and was the first to take the Dances to Russia in 1988. He continues to experiment with pushing the envelope of what the Dances can express to help humanity express the “hidden treasure.” He is the author of a number of books on Middle Eastern mysticism including Prayers of the Cosmos and The Sufi Book of Life and is also a Murshid in the Sufi Ruhaniat International. He writes:
“My life changed the first time I danced the Kalama Dance of Murshid Samuel Lewis in 1976. After that, there was no going back, even though part of me wanted to ignore the larger universe that had revealed itself. Since then I have been graced to travel with a few other like-hearted souls, including Tasnim Fernandez. When the transmission of the Dances and Walks expressed itself in a new way, she uniquely was there to help the roots spread. Roots don’t possess, they carry nourishment. A transmission doesn’t stop the flow and hold onto things, it transmits.”
Munir Peter Reynolds (Corvallis, Montana, USA email) Munir has led the Dances since 1995 and has served on staff at DUP retreats and Leader trainings throughout the western USA. He has co-presented two 3-year Dance leader trainings in Montana, one in Washington state, and many weekend trainings elsewhere. His travels with the Dances have led him to Canada, New Zealand and Russia. He first danced with Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz in 1987 while studying Creation Spirituality with Matthew Fox in California. He writes, "Dance leading is an amazing path of human development and spiritual awakening. I can't think of anything that brings out more beauty and authentic presence in human beings. If we can give ourselves to the transformative potential of this work there is no limit to what is possible."
Munir has served as Executive Director of DUP International since 2009. He holds an M.A. degree in arts administration, an M.A. in Culture and Creation Spirituality and has worked in various nonprofit organizations since 1976. From 2002 -2010 Munir was Executive Director of Oneness Project, a Dances of Universal Peace programming and grantmaking organization located in the Pacific Northwest USA. His role with Oneness Project included administering grants programs supporting the Dances of Universal Peace world wide.
Munir and his wif Johara live in a strawbale house homestead they built in 1997 in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. Together they cultivate most of their own vegetables and a sustainable lifestyle.
Farrunnissa Lila Rosa (Durham, North Carolina, USA email) A Senior Mentor, Sheikha in the Sufi Ruhaniat International, Dance musician, and former MTG Secretariat, Farrunnissa founded the Dance community in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina (www.BeautyCircles.org) and leads Dance meetings, workshops, and Dance leader trainings across the eastern U.S. She enjoys bringing clarity, inspiration, and vision to each Dance circle, and empowering each Dancer's personal experience of the Divine through body, breath, and heart.
She is a life-long musician, singer, and song writer, and featured on five CDs by different artists. She is part of an eclectic women's vocal ensemble called Jewelsong, who shares original music and inspirational songs from many different spiritual traditions. She is the founder of and a core performer with the frame drum ensemble, Sancta (www.BlessedBeats.org), and has taught the basics of frame drumming to over a hundred drummers in the Southeast. She has also served for many years as Secretary to the Ruhaniat Board of Trustees. Farrunnissa writes, "I view life as a joyful opportunity to remember the Divine -- which is to say, to experience our True Self -- in each moment, in every circumstance, in every heartbeat, in every Dance."
Halima Sussman (Cambridge, Massachusetts email) is a Senior Dance Mentor and Murshida for the Sufi Ruhaniat International.
She has served on the Guidance Council since its inception. Halima also served as a Board member for Dances of Universal Peace International from 2009 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Unity Council, the council that birthed the current shape of the organization supporting the Dances of Universal Peace Internationally.
Halima lives in Cambridge, MA. USA with her husband Abraham. Together they guide the local Ruhaniat Center, SAMA. The dances have led Halima to teach Internationally and all over the USA. She writes, "In 1969, I went to SF to go to art school, and by grace, soon found myself at a Sufi Dance meeting with Murshid SAM in Marin County, CA. This encounter changed my life - the spark of that moment still lights my way. The Dances and Walks continue to be one of the foundational practice of my spiritual journey." She is the mother of four beautiful grownup sons, a psychotherapist with a practice in spiritual psychology, a former midwife, passionate gardener, and committed student of life. For more about Halima, SAMA, and Northeast events visit