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Organization Dances of Universal Peace International
History The Dances were created in the 1960s by and represent the crowning achievement of Samuel L. Lewis, a Sufi teacher and Zen master in San Francisco. Born in the Bay Area in 1896 to Jacob Lewis, vice president of the Levi Strauss Company and a mother from the international banking family of Rothschild, he was expected to go into business. Instead he followed a calling to pursue the spiritual life. In 1923 he had his first interview with Pir Inayat Khan, the Indian Sufi who was to inspire the creation of the Sufi Order International, who initiated him. As early as 1940 Lewis noted the power of spiritual dance to awaken human beings to their true nature. In the 1960s he fed, prayed with and taught hippies and others in San Francisco. Included in the mix was group spiritual dancing. He began with Sufi dervish dances and then added others from the Asian Indian and Christian traditions. In this work he was substantially aided by the modern-dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis. From his early collection of 50 dances, the number has grown since his passing in 1971 to more than 500.
City Seattle, Washington State
Values Peace
Vision The vision of the Dances is to bring peace to the world.
Mission The Dances of Universal Peace are a transformative group spiritual practice originated by Sufi teacher Samuel L. Lewis which sets scriptures and sacred phrases from the worlds spiritual traditions to music and movement. They are intended to invoke an embodied sense of unity, presence and compassion leading to self-realisation.
Goals Encouraging diverse people to eat, dance and pray together, bringing a spiritual connection within and without.
Approach Individuals participate in circle dances with words and music from many of the worlds religious and spiritual traditions. Each dance has words, melodies, gestures (indications) and movements that participants, often with partners, make. The effect is similar to that of Muslims performing zikr, repeating the Arabic phrase meaning There is no God but God, to achieve an altered state and remember God. In a sense, the Dances make zikr available and accessible to humanity in general by universalising the cultural and religious context of the practice.
Structure DUP International functions as the alliance of all 1,300 mentored DUP leaders worldwide. These leaders in turn support the organisation and its main program, the Dances, through leader guild fees included in their regional dues.
Scale Moderate
Scope International
Activity There are camps, retreats and leader training sessions, for example in the Czech Republic and Ecuador in 2011. the Leaders Guild, mentors, certifies and trains.
Religion All-faith, Sufi
Words dance, spirituality, transformation
Acronym DUP
Contact P.O. Box 55994, Seattle, WA 98155-0994, USA. Tel. +1-206-367-0389