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A brief history of the Dances of Universal Peace

From the beginning of time, movement, song and story have brought people together. The Dances of Universal Peace are part of this timeless tradition of sacred dance. The Dances of Universal Peace were founded by Samuel Lewis in the late sixties. Lewis pursued an active and serious study of various world paths beginning in 1938. He found the desire for peace was fundamental in all cultures and traditions. With influences from modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis and various folk traditions Lewis introduced elemental walks along with over fifty dances before his passing in 1971. In 1982 PeaceWorks International Center for the Dances of Universal Peace was organized to continue the work began by Samuel Lewis. Currently there are over 400 recognized dances representing cultures from around the world. The dances have truly spread and taken root internationally.

There are a wide diversity of dances with topics suitable for public gatherings, peace studies, conflict resolution, community building, cultural studies, environmental issues and comparative religion studies. These topics are all possible extensions of the Dances of Universal Peace. These dances are firmly rooted in the oral tradition, which makes direct experience a vital component in effectively communicating the cultural traditions of the dances. The simplicity of the movements and phrases can allow everyone to participate. By stepping into the dance, participants have an opportunity to experience directly the essence of the tradition of each dance.

For additional information about the Dances of Universal Peace including recordings and the published dance movements for Peace Greeting Dance and May The Road please contact - PeaceWorks The International Center for the Dances of Universal Peace

Peace Greeting Dance
Simple Movements

This is a simplified version of the movements for the Peace Greeting Dance featured on Will Hale's recording Perfect World. This simplified version of the Peace Greeting Dance is a safe place to begin bringing greater cultural awareness in our communities. More advanced dances require repeated personal experience with the tradition and the supervision of an experienced leader of the Dances of Universal Peace.

I usually teach the song first with a strong emphasis on the beat to simulate the foot steps. Starting with English first to get comfortable with the melody. After speaking and echoing the word in Hebrew and Arabic I gradually have the kids join in during the dance as they pick it up.

Form a circle, preferably holding left hands up and right hands down. It takes a little effort to develop this habit but it makes future dance movements easier and assists in creating a good energy balance in the group. With younger ages simply holding hands is fine.

Click here to download a complete Mp3 version of the Peace Greeting Dance.

English
1. Peace be with you - step slowly to the center
2. And with you be peace - step back slowly
repeat movements 1 & 2 - I have found it helpful to emphasize the footsteps slowly to avoid rushing in and out of the center or doing familiar all fall down circle games.

Feel free to smile and send a blessing of peace to others in the circle.

Hebrew
3. Shalom aleichem Aleichem shalom - circle steps to the right
4. Shalom aleichem Aleichem shalom - circle steps to the left

Repeat English movements:

Arabic
5. As-salaam aleikhum Wa-leikum as-salaam - circle steps to the right
6. As-salaam aleikhum Wa-leikum as-salaam - circle steps to the left

Repeat English movements:

Possible variations might include adding new languages or switching languages for different movement parts, alternate girls and boys singing, loud and soft volumes. Gradually getting softer to a whisper or total silence works quite well. Softer volumes also help to step more gently in and out of the circle. Emphasizing slowly stepping together on the beat can bring greater harmony to the group.



   

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