Founded on Murshid Samuel Lewis' intuition that real religion must be practical and express the deep unity that is found behind all traditions, The Dances Of Universal Peace combine body-based reality with mystical peace practices. Sam said, "Words are not peace. Thoughts are not peace. Plans are not peace. Peace is fundamental...It is fundamental to all faiths, all religions, all spirituality." Only by including everyone do we arrive at peace, the absence of conflict.
Murshid Samuel Lewis intended for the Dances Of universal Peace to communicate the universality of mystical experience behind all religious traditions and the importance of bringing to the world "peace through the arts."
Samuel Lewis studied Sufism under Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and was a teacher of Zen Buddhism, Bhakti yoga, Christian mysticism and Hebrew Kaballah. He dedicated the first Dance Of Universal Peace to his sacred dance teacher, Ruth St. Denis, and gives her equal credit with Hazrat Inayat Khan for their inspiration.
Ruth St. Denis was a pioneer of modern dance, a contemporary of Isadora Duncan and a teacher of Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. She devoted most of her life to investigating forms of sacred dance that would transform both worhsip and the arts. It was from her tha Murshid Sam caught the importance of re-visiioning a form of American sacred dance which could be shared in groups.
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a world-famous musician who is credited with bringing Sufism from India to the West.
Dancing under the big top at Wilderness Dance Camp in Montana. Weekend and week-long dance camps are a regular occurence at beautiful nature spots all over the world.
The Dances Of Universal Peace have been shared throughout the United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatamala, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, England, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Crimea, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Ghana.
The two major influences on the Dances Of Universal Peace were St. Denis' passion for "Peace Through The Arts" and Hazrat Inayat Khan's vision of the "Unity Of religious Ideals". For Hazrat Inayat Khan it was important to acknowledge the issue of religious strife and the role it plays in perpetuating war. He felt we could avoid new catastrophes by gathering together the followers of different religions in the understanding of the one truth behind them. Looking behind all religions to see where they unite, we can discover how people of different faiths can be friends.
Hazrat Inayat Khan also taught Murshid Samuel Lewis the science of the mysticism of sound, enabling him to choose sacred phrases for the Dances which filled the body with resonance and with a genuine feeling for each tradition celebrated.
In her own way, Ruth St. Denis had been promoting the unity of religious ideals by portraying through dance the religious figures of many different cultures throughout the world. Still, she wished for a group form of dance that would be easily accessible to non-performers and which would communicate the deep feelings of unity and peace that she had felt in her individual performances.
For these reasons, Samuel Lewis credited both Ruth St. Denis and Hazrat Inayat Khan for providing him with the "keys" to the creation of the Dances Of Universal Peace.
-adapted from A Short History Of The Dances by Neil Douglas-Klotz