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If you are interested in learning to lead the Dances of Universal Peace, the best place to begin is to attend the Dances that may be held in your area. The Dance Events area of this web site will take you to resources to help you find the Dances. Dance a lot – until you know you want to lead dances yourself. (Some people think they want to lead dances but then, after further experience of the dances or perhaps after trying a period of dance leader training, they may realise it is not the right thing for them, after all. Sometimes it is better to just dance, enjoy the dance experience, and maybe influence others in a more subtle way through the example of your own dancing within a circle. Dance Leading is not a necessary ‘progression’ that all dancers have to follow.)
Study how a leader teaches a dance and then how they lead it through the course of the dance itself and how they bring it to an end. Watch other dance leaders, if you can, and also see how different dances need to be led in different ways. See which aspects of leading you think you could do if you led a dance, and maybe decide what you are not yet ready to do. This might be the point at which to undergo some training. This may be on a formal training course, or else working with a dance leader who is prepared to pass on some of what they know to you.
2. Are there costs to being a dance leader?
Yes. Once you are actively leading public dances, you will need to become a member of the DUP UK Leader’s Guild and also find a dance mentor, most of whom ask for a fee for the assistance which they give. Details of both of these are elsewhere on this website.
3. Must I be trained before I can lead dances?
It is not an official requirement that you must undergo any training in order to lead the dances – the only stipulation is that you have a dance mentor and are up-to-date with your fees for membership of the DUP UK Leader’s Guild.
Formal training courses have been run in the past, and require commitment to attending the whole course and for fees to be paid. Informal coaching by private arrangement with a suitably experienced leader is another way to learn. You may choose whichever path suits your personal circumstances.
Gradually, you may decide whether dance leading is really something you want to develop properly and officially become a dance leader. The next step is to find a mentor.
4. Do I need a mentor? What do they do?
The mentor/mentee relationship is an important channel for the transmission of the Dances and Walking Meditations.
The Dances of Universal Peace are dances which follow from a particular form of spiritual practice, initially created by Murshid Samuel Lewis in the early 1970’s and involve the use of mantra and body movement to enhance the meditational experience which is known as a Dance of Universal Peace. As such, it is understood that these dances can only be correctly passed on from experienced teacher to a student, as part of a lineage which is traced back to Samuel Lewis himself. This is why the Leaders Guild and the Dances of Universal Peace International (of which DUP UK is an affiliated member) were created, in order to enable the dances to be carried forward from person to person in their true and undiminished form.
Dance leading involves skills at many levels, from the basics of explaining dance steps and teaching the words and melody, to the attunement of one’s inner self to the deep spiritual message of a dance and the intuitive way a dance may be developed as it progresses, which may be different every time the same dance is led. A mentor is an experienced leader who can guide you as you grow into these skills, passing on detailed tips or general teachings, monitoring your progress and suggesting dances or practices that may help you to find and develop your own personal strengths. This may take quite a bit of their time and energy and, in return, most mentors ask for a payment, often an annual fee, though sometimes some other form of exchange may be agreed with the mentee.
5. How do I know who is a mentor, and who isn’t?
If you are at the point of looking for a mentor, you may wish to view the current list of UK mentors. (It is possible to choose a mentor who is outside the UK (see list of mentors wordwide), but it must be understood that you need to be able to dance with your mentor sometimes, which means either they visit the UK, or you visit them abroad.)
6. Who do I choose to be my mentor?
Your mentor will be someone who is not your spouse, partner or any other relative. By linking to a mentor you connect with the power of the lineage of this body of work. The mentoring relationship is ongoing at every stage on this path of mastery.
It is a good idea to have danced with as many of the mentors as possible, which means attending dance events with a wide selection of leaders, in order to get to know them. The best way to choose a mentor is to look for someone you feel attuned to, someone who has developed qualities you yourself would like to cultivate.
Mentors work in different ways with their students (mentees); e.g., some mentors offer training programmes or mentoring groups, and others work individually. Once you feel a connection with a mentor, enquire about his/her methods as well as any practical arrangements (mentors may charge for time, expenses and travel in relation to training).
The roles of the dance mentor and the person who gives you training in dance leading are separate and different. It is possible for your trainer and mentor to be the same person, but equally you could have one person as mentor and a different person to give you training. There is no requirement to undergo training, but you must have a mentor all the time you are leading dances. (A dance mentor and a sufi teacher are different roles, too. For more on the relationship between the Sufi path and the Dances of Universal Peace, go here.)
7. Do I have to join any official organisation?
Once the mentor has accepted you as a mentee, they will notify the DUP UK Leaders’ Guild. If you take out membership, this will also be recorded with the Dances of Universal Peace International.
8. Do I have to pay fees to DUP UK if I train to lead dances?
You do not have to join the DUP UK Leader’s Guild while training. Once you decide to start leading public dances you are required to join the DUP International Leader’s Guild. You must also first have a mentor (see finding a mentor).
Membership of the DUP UK Leader’s Guild includes the contribution to the cost of a group insurance policy, which covers UK dance leaders against liability for third party accident or injury incurred by a dancer whilst involved in an official DUP dance event you are leading. A second cost is the fee which is due to the DUP International for membership of the Leaders Guild, which is currently $36 per year, paid annually in April. DUPI Leaders Guild fees are included in your DUP UK Leader’s Guild subscription.
9. Is there any reduction for new dance leaders or those still in training?
This is possible, and would be granted after the trainee leader submits a simple request to the Guidance Panel of DUPUK, and it is granted for one year at a time, and you would need to re-apply in subsequent years. Even if you pay only a reduced fee, DUPUK will still pay your Leaders Guild fee on your behalf.
10. What do I get from DUPUK and the Leaders Guild, if I become a mentored Leader?
Once the Leaders Guild is satisfied that your Leaders Guild fee is being paid for you by DUPUK and has registered you in the Leaders Guild Directory, you will be issued with a username and password which allows you to access the special resources on the DUP International website, at www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org. There you will find dance write-ups, recordings and other useful resources to help you with dance leading. At the same time, DUPUK will issue you with a personalised password so that you can log on to the UK Leaders Guild Resources Area and publish a Leader profile about yourself, and add adverts of any dance events which you may offer.
11. Do I need to be a ‘certified’ dance leader?
It is not necessary to be certified to lead the Dances, but if you do wish to become a certified leader, you need to take it up with your mentor. Certification is a commitment to continue growing as a dance leader and deepening in your responsibility to the lineage of the Dances and Walks. Deepening in any spiritual practice takes time.
Once you have become a mentored leader, there is more you can find out.
There is a much more extensive document which goes into details about certification, mentors and so on, on the International website.