Some two-dozen dancers were participating in the Dances of Universal Peace last Saturday afternoon in McArthur Centre in Greenwood and from the looks on their faces, they were in a happy place.
The Dances of Universal Peace are moving meditations. Simple and profound, the dances are inspired by the sacred texts and mantras of the many spiritual traditions of the world.
No musical or dance experience of any kind was required. A dance leader teaches participants a song and movements, often with guitar and drum accompaniment. Soon the circle was singing and moving together.
According to literature supplied by the Nelson Dance Circle, dancers often experience a deepened relationship to life and to one another that is difficult to describe in words.
“The dances can become a doorway to personal transformation and a state of consciousness that is free from personal conditioning and self-consciousness— the inner, universal peace that is grounded in simple presence,” says the pamphlet. “They offer the potential to discover the mystical core of one’s own faith as well as a deeper understanding of other traditions.”
West Boundary resident Sonia Stairs was one of four mentored leaders who led dances in the first half of the afternoon session. Three certified leaders led in the second half.
According to Sonia, 10 of the 27 dancers attending had danced ‘a serious amount’ before Saturday.
“I travel all over to get to them,” said Sonia, who has taken training—six weekends over two years—to be a mentored dance leader. Christina Lake resident Heather MacLeod has been dancing for decades and she too is now a mentored dance leader.
The two women are planning to begin hosting dances soon in the Boundary— both in Christina Lake and in Rock Creek. Dates and locations are to yet be decided.
“What is in mind is something where we are all working together on learning the dances and dancing them together,” said Sonia. “We won’t be presenting in the same way as in Nelson with so many accomplished leaders, but together learning the dances and making our own music.”
“I was pleased how everyone seemed to grasp the spirit of the dance,” Sonia told the Times.
“So many came not knowing what to expect. They felt the energy, they were delighted with the universality of it.”
The dances are free, participants are usually asked only for donations to help pay for the space where the dance is held.
Last Saturday’s dance was funded through an Empowerment of Seniors grant that is being managed by the Kettle River Seniors, Branch 102.
“By the time we got to the end people were really understanding that this has a lot of power to bring people together,” said Sonia.
“The invitation to join us is open.” Those interested in keeping informed can contact Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-449-2152.
Dances of Universal Peace were started in the late 1960’s by Samuel L. Lewis who began to envisage the dances as a dynamic method to promote “Peace through the Arts”.
More can be found online.