Author Archives: Sarah McCulloch

About Sarah McCulloch

I have been involved with the dances since 2009, when I visited the Lama Foundation in New Mexico, where Murshid Sam is buried. I am a mureed of Jilani Prescott in the Sufi Ruhaniat order.

Regional Dance Days 2019!

Here’s the latest news, in the form of write ups from the 4 Leaders who held Regional Dance Days recently:

 (Unfortunately the Scottish event had to be cancelled, but hopefully we’ll manage one next year).

Enjoy the richness and diversity expressed below:

Shamsia wrote about the Welsh Day:

Our Regional gathering was full of energy, inspiration and beauty.  I can still hear our voices joining, the guitars, violins weaving above, below and around us as we came into step together.  Many thanks to all who came to share in this gift of Dances of Universal Peace, freely given by Samuel Lewis and now shared around the world.  It was lovely to tune in with others who were gathering in various parts of the UK and to create time to talk and listen about how DUPUK can serve the Dances in this region.  Many thanks to those who gathered with us in Wales and your contributions to our fund for further special events.

The following is a résumé of our conversation:

  • Who is DUPUK?  What is DUPUK? Not everyone who Dances with us know who or what we are as DUPUK
  • People don’t hear from DUPUK, another call to create and communicate our news emails
  • A Dance Leader repeatedly has login difficulties
  • Some Dancers would like access to musical scores for the Dances, so they can play them at home. These can be made available through those who are involved with mentoring
  • Accessibility and encouragement was valued in the Dances, the opportunity to share blessing.  A freedom is to be found in DUP, we can make mistakes.  Real inclusivity was valued.
  • Everyone was encouraged to keep in touch, online or by phone between our physical gatherings.  This was to help counter feelings of isolation and also to remind each other of Dances and experiences we’ve shared that are just so nourishing.  It’s great to hear a Dance, to hear of a Dance
  • An idea has been in gestation for some years of creating a YouTube channel which could be by subscription and another public one.  It could have “frequently asked questions” answered, what are the Dances, UK originated Dances.  There was a suggestion that we could start the process on a retreat of interested people.
  • Gratitude to SAM was expressed, his generosity and kindness is awesome.  He used to give people bus fares, buy them ice cream.
  • Guiding, scouting and brownie networks would be a great way to bring the Dances to a lot of children.

Sophia wrote about the South East Day:

We had a lovely day too! It was good to clear up some misinformation about where the money goes, i.e. we’re not subsidising people going on a particular leader’s retreat or training course. Having a variety of leaders leading dances was much appreciated.

 Matthew wrote about the South West Day:

On 5th October we had our regional day of dancing and were joined by dancers and leaders from further afield than usual. I felt a strong sense of co-creation and the sense of being part of a wider circle of connection. As well as dancing together we had some sharing time. Themes that came up included the dances as a way to remember a core of love, acknowledgement of the potential for awkwardness as we meet a partner in a dance, the need to reinvent the dances for our time, the shift from dancing to talking and how we experience that, the difference between set movements and free movement, how it is being in the role of dance leader…

We talked about the context in which the dances emerged and how they filled a deep need for embodiment and grounding for those around Sam. The question arose of what is the deep need for our time? How can the dances meet and touch us in the midst of the challenges of our era, including climate change, environmental degradation, widespread despair, political and social division and polarity, widening inequalities? Can the dances address social isolation, awkwardness with eye contact, cultural norms which means that some cultures that we’re celebrating may not feel comfortable holding hands or singing their sacred phrases? Above all, how can the dances touch people in deep need in the world who for various reasons would never come to camps or see beyond the ‘form’ of what we do?

From our participants:

“I know of no other opportunity to express devotion and veneration in a way which engages all aspects of our embodiment so fully. Such an expression of devotion and veneration is a form of food which we, as humans, need. The music is sumptuous, powerful, beautiful and evocative, and the dances foster a rare and precious intimacy of communication among the dancers. I’m sure that this is how people used to pray. In addition, being embraced by the sonic harmonies of Sanskrit, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic allows access to an often-unexplored dimension of soul and memory.”

“I was glad to have the sharing time, as it enabled people to voice their doubts and fears … [to] balance the dances.”

Jilani wrote about the Northern Day:

Twelve of us met for the Northern Regional Dance Day, with a wide range of experience from those who have been dancing for more than 20 years to those who only encountered the Dances earlier this year. There was a fairly even spread between dancers and leaders, with several dancers who lead occasionally or are just beginning to lead. In the end eight different leaders shared a dance each, with more experienced leaders sharing two. We all enjoyed eating, dancing and praying together from 10.30 until 4.30 at the Heart Centre near Hebden Bridge.

As well as some wonderful dances, we had two rounds of sharing. The first was around our previous experience of the dances, and what we would like to see happening. Several people said how much they valued day or half-day dance sessions, as a good compromise between being affordable and yet worth traveling some distance.

There were many heartfelt comments about how much the dances mean to people:

‘This DUP family is the most important thing in my life, regardless of how often I get to dance. I want to deepen that relationship, to be dancing in circle all day every day until I die! There is such a sense of refuge, love, support, healing and transformation.’ ‘The dances enrich my life a lot even when I can’t come often.’ ‘I met the dances this year and really like the chance to celebrate peace and give thanks to the Earth.’ ‘I am on a learning curve about the power and depth of the Dances.’

The second round, in the afternoon, was a reflection on the Regional Day and what we felt we had received from it. People valued the honesty of the sharing: 

‘It helps to see we are not perfect- things are not always as they seem.’ ‘All of you is welcome here, including nervousness about leading a dance!’ ‘ I can leave stuff behind and be here – it’s the most important thing in life.’ ‘I appreciate the community, spirituality and friendship, and acknowledge the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep it going.’ ‘I appreciate the collaboration and encouragement.’ ‘The sense of community is very important to me, and the connection with other beings on a similar wavelength, also learning about the deeper spiritual significance of the Dances.’ ‘I am grateful to be a member of this family.’

It was so good to be together and to really feel our deep appreciation for the Dances of Universal Peace, and what they bring to our lives. Thank you Murshid SAM!


 ‘May all beings be well, May all beings be happy. Peace, peace, peace!’

Join us at one of the 5 regional dance days this Autumn!

Dear Dancers,

It’s been 4 years since we organised a Regional Day to gather to Dance and also provide an opportunity to listen and talk together about your experience of the Dances of Universal Peace.  To this end, we are offering a chance to meet, to listen to you and to dance together in 5 separate regions of the UK this Autumn.  Ifyou would like to share a Dance or 2, please get in touch with those organising the Regional days below.  Further venue details will be sent to you.

October 5th 2019

Wales with Sandra Shamsia Sunfire & friends: 

10.30 – 4.30 pm, Derwenlas Hall, near Machynlleth, Wales SY20 8TN  

For more details please contact:

Southeast with Sophia Nicholson:   

11.00 -4.00 pm, Friends Meeting House, 1, Paynes Park, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG5 1EH

Leaders only 11-1. (Booking essential by 19th September) dancers welcome 2-4pm.

For more details please contact:

North with Jilani Cordelia Prescott:  

10.30 – 4.30pm, The Heart Centre, Luddenden, Nr Hebden Bridge, HX2 6RF.

Booking essential, as numbers are restricted to 20.

         For more details contact: or 07966 451534

Southwest with Matthew Heyse-Moore

10.30am to 4.30pm, Bedminster Quaker House, Wedmore Vale, Bristol BS3 5HX.

For more details and to register your interest please contact Matthew, or 0117 214 0418.

September 27/28th 2019

Scotland with Mirabai Sue Musgrave:   

Friday 27th  7.30-9pm, Saturday 28th  10 – 5pm, Sunshine Room, East Whines, The Park, Findhorn.

For more details please contact:

Do come!  

Let’s have a cup of tea, a chat and some precious dancing time together.  Perhaps you would like to consider one or more of the following:

  • What would enrich your experience of Dancing even more?
  • As part of an international family of Dancers is there anything that would help you experience that connection with all those Dancers you may never meet in the circle?
  • Do you ever use the website:  ~ would anything help your use of it?

And if you are sadly unable to join us, but have thoughts or feelings you would like to share, do please contact us either by email, through the DUPUK website, via Facebook or indeed by good old snail mail.

With love and blessings, Shamsia, Sophia, Shamsuddin and Jilani (Guidance Panel DUP UK)

Taking the Dances Beyond – Where they have never been before

The Beyond Initiative, sponsored by Dances of Universal Peace International (DUP IN), is an endeavor to bring together two of Murshid SAM’s visions:

  • spreading peace, and
  • spreading it in a sustainable world.

The initiative is being done in partnership with the Global Ecovillage Network, so it is touching young adults who are dedicated to global sustainability.  It focuses on regions that are under-privileged in countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, taking the dances to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience them, and to places where peace is especially needed right now.  It is being focused by our younger generation of mentors and is naturally attracting youth of a similar age.

We have a dedicated, long-term commitment to the training of the new leaders in these regions.  As a result of the first year of the Initiative, there are now permanent dance circles in Turkey, Israel, and Iran! We are making a 3 year commitment to the continual training of these new dance leaders. In the meantime, we are beginning to spread the dances into Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions.

The initial funds for this project came to DUP IN as an endowment, and this seems to be a most beautiful way to honor this bequest! But now the project has a life of its own, and is growing in many directions.

Please read about it and see how you can be involved!

Support an emerging dance leader! Join a caravan! Sponsor an emerging leader to come to your event! Develop a pen pal! Consider a legacy!

To see the various ways you can participate in the Beyond Initiative, go to DUP Beyond (under Worldwide Network) on our website Dances of Universal Peace International

The 3rd Leaders’ Guild Retreat: Love, Serve and Remember (2018)

It was a great joy to meet as dance leaders on our 3rd annual retreat in the beautiful setting of the Carmelite Retreat Centre, Oxford. Our numbers have been increasing year on year and we were 21 Dance Leaders this time, of all levels of experience. There was time and space for everyone to lead a Dance, share our experiences and to talk about issues which were living in our hearts and minds. We had a discussion about inclusivity and the challenges and opportunities it can bring for Leaders and Dancers and also a brief sharing about our various spiritual paths. It was a wonderfully supportive community experience, which we look forward to extending to Dance Leaders from across Europe for the first time next year. Dance Mentors and Mentors-in-Training will have the opportunity to stay on for an additional 24 hours immediately after the weekend, for further deepening and mutual support.

Some participants had this to say about this year’s retreat:

Best dance meeting of the year’

A very special opportunity for peer support’

Gives substance to the Leaders’ Guild’

I really appreciated the organisation.’

Loving open hearts’

I came home with a big shift towards knowing who I am as a dance leader and beyond, that has not been shaken since.’

I have learnt to consciously live my life to ‘Love, Serve and Remember’.’