About the Dances

The Dances of Universal Peace are a compendium of simple, meditative, joyous circle dances. They use sacred phrases, chants, music and movements from many of the world’s wisdom traditions. The Dances have no performers or audience. No musical or dance experience is necessary, and everyone is welcome to join in. New arrivals and experienced dancers form the circle together. Participants join hands in a circle with the Dance leader and musicians in the center. Throughout their time together, the leader teaches the group the words, melody and movement before each Dance. Themes for the Dances include peace, healing and the celebration of life’s great mystery.


The Visionary

The Dances were originated by Samuel Lewis in the late 1960s in San Francisco. Lewis was a lifelong student of the esoteric teachings of many religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. He studied with spiritual teachers throughout the world. Lewis drew inspiration from his spiritual teachers, who are also revered with fondness as the ancestors of the Dances. Foremost among them were Hazrat Inayat Khan, the master who introduced Sufism to the West, and Ruth St. Denis, a pioneer in the modern dance movement.


The Experience of Dancing

The Dances are designed to inspire the spiritual essence within us. Many experience a profound feeling of being alive, a knowing of deep peace within oneself and among a community in motion. Others report feelings of love, appreciation, connection and joy.

“What does dance do for us? First and foremost, it inculcates the sense of rhythm and enhances our response to rhythm. This is really a response to life. It makes us more living, which is to say, more spiritual.”
— Samuel L. Lewis


The Dances in the World Today

In the years since their inception, the Dances of Universal Peace have spread throughout the world. There are Dance circles throughout North and South America, in Eastern and Western Europe, New Zealand and Australia. From an original body of about 50 Dances, the Dances of Universal Peace have grown to a continually expanding collection of more than 500.