What are the Dances?

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 life passages, in daily renewal and meditation.  The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless tradition of Sacred Dance.    

The Dances are a joyous, multi-cultural way to touch the spiritual essence within ourselves and others.  They use sacred phrases, chants, music and movements from the many traditions of the earth to promote peace and integration within individual and groups.  There are no performers or audience: new arrivals and old hands form the circle together.

The Dances of Universal Peace were first offered in this form by Samuel L. Lewis (1896 - 1971), a Sufi Murshid (teacher) as well as Rinzai Zen Master.  He was deeply influenced by Hazrat Inayat Khan, teacher of universal Sufism in the West, and Ruth St. Denis, a moden dance pioneer.

From an original body of around 50 dances, the collection has grown to more than 500 dances, which celebrate the sacred heart of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Celtic, Native American, Native Middle Eastern, Native African and Great Goddess traditions.


During the past 30 years, the Dances has spread around the earth, touching more than a half million people.  Weekly or monthly Dance meetings are held in hundreds of cities through out the world.  The Dances of Universal Peace are used in global peace-making and citizen diplomacy, therapy and addiction recovery, education and ecumenical worship celebrations, to name but a few applications.  They continue to be, as Samuel Lewis envisioned them, a way to make life-energy and the peace that passes understanding a reality for all who come in contact with them. ​