June 2, 2017

Dances of Universal Peace

I am very happy and honored to offer my guitar playing to the very special local Dances of Universal Peace, or, as I originally referred to them, Sufi Dances.

What are the Dances of Universal Peace?

dupcolorlogoTRANSPARENTThe Dances of Universal Peace are meditative, spiritual practices using divine phrases of many of the world’s religions in order to promote peace and tolerance. The songs are simple, and though many utilize the original languages of the mantras (e.g. Arabic, Aramaic, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Sanskrit) as well as English, the phrases are usually short and easily learned. The words, their meaning and intent, melody, and movements are taught before each dance as a matter of practice, so beginners can easily adapt; it’s all fairly straightforward and laid back, as would be expected.

But more than just passively singing phrases and using simple dance movements, the real power of the Dances of Universal Peace is in the intent, the focus, and the deliberate offering of your presence to the other participants in the form of looking directly into their eyes (and beyond?) without looking away. This is paramount. This combination of phraseology, singing, movement, and intense presence can, and often does, catapult the participants into …

… well, let’s just say we are able to raise the energy in the room. Higher. Higher than when we walked in. We are more in tune with ourselves. More in tune with the other, standing right beside us, across from us. More balanced. Somehow more pure.

I dare say that most people leave the dances with a heightened sense of well-being. How cool is that?!

How did the DUP get started?

Samuel Lewis
Samuel Lewis

The Dances of Universal Peace were first formulated in the late 1960s by Samuel L. Lewis and commenced in California. The original dances were strongly influenced by Samuel Lewis’ spiritual relationships with Ruth St. Denis, a modern dance pioneer, and Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi master. The influence on the dances of Sufi practices such as Sema and The Whirling Dervishes are apparent, although Samuel Lewis was also a Rinzai Zen master and drew on the teachings of the major religious and spiritual traditions, including native.

Dances were originally performed at camps and meetings with a distinctly new age and alternative feel but have increasingly come to be offered in diverse places of worship, schools, colleges, prisons, hospices, residential homes for those with special needs, and holistic health centers. The Dances have since developed into a global movement. The Network for the Dances of Universal Peace has members in 28 countries.

Where & when are the dances held?

Locally, meaning the New River Valley area of south-western Virginia, there are currently dance circles offered each month in Roanoke.

For all other locations around the world please refer to the official International Dances of Universal Peace MAP to find a location near you …

Roanoke, Virginia

Third Saturday of each month, from 7:00 until 9:00 (or so).
Unitarian Universalist Church
2015 Grandin RD, Roanoke, VA 24015
Rachel Theo-Maurelli (Dance circle leader & facilitator)


How can I find out more?

The official Dances of Universal Peace website is the best place to learn more and to find dances near you.