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 during life passages, in daily renewal and meditation. The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless tradition of sacred dance.

“The Dances of Universal Peace change lives. And the world changes life by life. All over the earth people long for an actual experience of reverence for the earth and life in all its forms. The dances show how.” Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz

The Dances of Universal Peace (DUP) are a powerful way to connect with others, to experience the true heart of many spiritual traditions and draw on them for inspiration. They are simple, direct, accessible and profound, being inspired by the wisdom and sacred phrases of the spiritual traditions of humankind. They are most often danced in a circle using natural and devotional movements. Essentially they are a form of celebration and meditation in song and movement, the sacred phrase being an important element of each dance.

The dances were originated by Samuel Lewis in the late 1960’s in San Francisco. He was a Sufi mystic, known by his students as Murshid S.A.M. (murshid is teacher). Jewish by birth, he was well versed in the Kaballah, he taught Christian mysticism and was a Rinzai Zen Master as well as a devoted student of a Hindu guru Papa Ram Dass.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

The dances were inspired by his Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, the master who introduced Sufism to the West, and Ruth St. Denis, a pioneer in the modern dance movement, poet and mystic.

Samuel Lewis studied mystical and spiritual forms of dance throughout his life with Ruth St. Denis. He was a keen folk dancer and originally went dancing to overcome a sense of shyness. Following Hazrat Inayat Khan and the ‘Unity of Religious Ideals‘ – that the truth at the heart of all religions is the same truth – Samuel Lewis envisaged a dance form which would embody this ideal, one which would allow people to directly experience for themselves such states as joy, peace, harmony and unity.

Ruth St Denis

“What does the dance do for us? First and foremost, it inculcates the sense of rhythm and enhances our response to rhythm. This is really a response to life. It makes us more living, which is to say, more spiritual.”

Murshid Samuel L. Lewis

Murshid S.A.M.  saw the Dances as a form of ‘peace through the arts’, a way of sharing the blessings of peace throughout the world and within each individual. The dances have since gradually spread throughout the world, being used at schools, conferences, prisons and hospitals as well as in weddings, blessing ceremonies, peace gatherings, healing rituals, burials and ecumenical worship.

Here is a YouTube video of the global celebration of the DUP 50th anniversary, featuring dance circles all over the world.

The Dances are easy to learn, and everything you need to know for each dance is taught first. Even though you might feel unable to sing ‘in tune’, or feel you have ‘two left feet’, these dances are welcoming to all.

They offer a safe way to be open to other people, creating trust and healing on a deep level. Through this dancing we come to know more of our true selves, so bringing peace, joy and unity to ourselves and to others.

The dances are designed to inspire the spiritual essence within us. Through remembrance of our divine unity we can experience peace, harmony and healing – opening the pathways to inner peace and sensations of positive energy.

The only way to know the Dances is to actually experience them as they are based on individual experience and not concepts or premises. So, if the above sparked your interest, come along to one of the dance events and try them for yourself.

Dances in Allanton Sanctuary, Scotland