are the Dances of Universal Peace? Are they anything like Sufi Dancing?
Whether you ask an experienced dancer, a dance leader, or a first
timer, you could still get a range of responses.
For example, answers could include, Simple dance steps to
basic melodies using a sacred phrase or word from a faith tradition.
Or, The hundreds of dances that have been created to foster
peace. Another is A spiritually enhancing experience.
Or even, Multi-cultural folk dances that use sacred phrases
from many of the worlds spiritual traditions with the aim
of creating a living experience of unity.
A minimalist might just say, Prayers put to movement.
And all would be correct.
The dances began in the early 1960s, inspired by a master of many
faith traditions, Samuel L. Lewis. They quickly caught on, spread
and multiplied. Those first few dances are now among the hundreds
of peace dances that have since been created by other dance leaders.
Originally a part of western Sufi esoteric practice and called
Sufi Dancing, an expanded number and range of dances has been made
available to the world, and they are now collectively referred to
as the Dances of Universal Peace. The Dances allow participants
to experience the richness of other faith traditions while at the
same time allowing the deepening appreciation of ones own
One of Samuel L. Lewis basic beliefs was that people who
sing, dance and pray together might foster peace in the world.
By celebrating the various sacred traditions of humankind, we will
recognize differences as treasures, not threats to cooperation.
That basic belief has sustained the continued attraction and growth
of the Dances. The Dances are now enjoyed in circles throughout
Each dance is different. Some elicit exquisite joy. Others encourage
deep spiritual connection. And others create a wonderful sense of
peace among all within that Dance circle. All touch the heart.
Each dance is fully taught. It does not matter if you are a first-timer,
or a ten-year veteran. Young and old are welcome to participate
in the spirit of the dances. However, it is only fair to warn newcomers
of what the old-timers already know: that the combined effect of
rhythmic movements, melodies and intoning sacred phrases within
an atmosphere of shared harmony within a circle, can cause an altered
state of magnificent bliss. At times bright sparkles of tears can
be seen on the faces of joy-filled dancers.
In Portland, the Dances are held every Tuesday night at 7:30 PM
at Grace Episcopal Memorial Church at 16th and NE Weidler.
In Beaverton they are held on the second and fourth Sundays at Unity
of Beaverton, at 5th and Angel.
In addition, the Dances have been invited to numerous places of
worship and other spiritually focused events, including the Citys
Hands Around Portland, leading hundreds of dancers for the first
For more information, please come to one of the regularly scheduled
dance meetings to experience them for yourself, or call Devi at
503-238-7603, or Chela at 503-293-6583.