Leaders Guild Retreat 2020

Our 2020 retreat was again, a very enriching and inspiring event. This time in Yorkshire at the Briery Retreat Centre Ilkley; a very nice venue with two beautiful group spaces, comfortable beds and lovely food!

The theme of the retreat was the Walks; we delved in with sessions on centres, elements, planetary, tasawwuri and wazifa. It was a precious opportunity to be reminded of and deepen in these powerful and useful practices and how they can enrich our dance leading and lives.

We also had time to dance! Everyone had the opportunity to lead and it was a beautiful, heart warming mix of our different styles and energy.

Our international participant, Ernesto from Mexico, now living and dancing in Istanbul, gave an inspiring talk about the ‘DUP Beyond Project’ an initiative to bring the dances to under-privileged countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It was very interesting to get this wider perspective.


The energy swelled as the full moon shone down on us, and there was a real sense of fullness by the end of the retreat; inspiration for our dance leading, new and deepening connections with each other, ideas for new ways to work with the dances and ways we can collaborate and support each other.  And perhaps above all, a real appreciation of being able to come together in person, hold hands, eat, dance, pray, and enjoy our loving community.

Our heartfelt appreciation and thanks were given to Guidance Panel members and Administrator who are now stepping down from these roles, Jilani, Shamsia, Shamsuddin and Stella and for their years of dedicated service to the Leaders Guild and for making this retreat possible.

An unexpected end was provided by Storm Ciara, as she swept across the country disrupting our travel plans; lifts were given, beds offered, and we all flowed beautifully with our predicament!

Some words from participants..

I enjoyed the morning practice and all the dances and I felt very safe and free

I loved spending time with everyone

I loved experiencing the depth of attunement of the leaders and dancers, feeling part of a spiritual dance community

I got a deeper sense of how the Guild can support leaders

I loved the co-creative programme- lovely balance of including us all

The full programme covered a useful range of DUP aspects.

Company, openness, awareness, connecting

Support from peers

Gaining confidence in leading,

Lovely place and facilities


Thank you all so much for all the energy and love you brought to the weekend !

Love and Peace


The Beatitudes in Aramaic – in Edinburgh


Come and join us (Sarah Bonner-Morgan and Jenny Williams) as we lead a day of Aramaic chant and simple devotional movement as part of the 2020 Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and Peace (MESP).

Over Friday evening and Saturday all ten Beatitudes will be taught and ‘tasted’ combining the sounds of the original words as they were spoken with the refreshing and expanded translations from Saadi (Neil Douglas-Klotz abwoon.org).
Links to hear the words and melodies below.

Come for all or part of this journey to experience the essence of these Blessings; the life force that continues to bring healing. We will travel deeply into the sounds and vibrations of the original Aramaic language and there will be spaces for silence and reflection.

On our journey through the Beatitudes we are encouraged to reestablish our breath as central, give space for any confused or mourning parts of us to feel heard, soften our bodies and hearts back into natural rhythm, reunite our inner conflicted and warring parts and allow our natural compassion and joy to radiate back into the world. We come home to ourselves.

You are welcome whether you have experience of this work or you are brand new. We suggest if this Beatitude cycle is completely new to you, that you start with the first three Beatitudes on Friday evening – otherwise follow your heart and come when you can. Feel free to bring food to share for lunch if you are coming on Saturday and perhaps a blanket and/or cushion for quiet sitting.

Facilitators: Sarah Bonner-Morgan and Jenny Williams.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.
Dates: Friday 20 March and Saturday 21 March 2020.

Attend all sessions: £40/£32 (concessions)/£12 (students)
Friday Evening: 6pm-8.45pm (registration 5.30pm) £10/£8/£3
Saturday Day: 10am-4pm. (registration 9.30am) £25/£20/£10
Sat Evening: 4.45pm-7.30pm (registration 4.15pm) £10/£8/£3

Jenny Williams is a Church of Scotland minister currently working in Drylaw Parish Church in Edinburgh. “I have been involved with this Aramaic work for over 20 years and have found it inspiring; supporting my faith, and discovering new ways of expressing ancient truths. It links with my interest in healing, neuroscience and my childhood passion for dance.”

Sarah Bonner-Morgan teaches the Alexander Technique in Edinburgh. “I found my way to the Sufi path via a love of poetry, dance and music and deepened my connection to the Aramaic work of Neil Douglas-Klotz through his visionary Inter-Spiritual Leadership Training (AILP) which I completed in 2013.”

Here is a link to the EICSP booking page:


Or for a Registration Form:
Contact: Neill Walker, mesp2020@hotmail.com, 0131 331 4469.

Here is a youtube link to Saadi singing the Beatitudes as a taster or to get to know the melodies and sounds of the words before the workshop .


The Aramaic words of the Beatitudes (and the Lord’s Prayer) with the contemporary and multi-layered translations by Neil Douglas-Klotz can be found in his book Prayers of the Cosmos:


Introduction from Incoming Guidance Panel member Suzanne Wombacher

Recently I found in an old folder a flyer from an Aramaic Lord’s Prayer Workshop with Tansen dated 11th of February 1995. This was the first step on my 25 year journey with Dances of Universal Peace and a whole new and wonderful world unfolded ; a world of a myriad of beautiful prayers , dances , music and people .

I soon felt drawn to do the dance leader training with Tansen in 2001 ….and now teach regular workshops together with my husband Karim (who I met on the dance training ) with a special joy being  Aramaic  Lord’s Prayer days .

I am a mother of five ,  practising Catholic , movement therapist and musician and take  an enormous delight in  finding  the divine within everyday life, nature and my fellow beings ( human and otherwise ), the serious and the ridiculous …..

I was greatly astonished to have been invited onto the Guidance Panel of the Leaders Guild and   hope I will live up to the trust put in me and look forward to a time of sisterly working together and inspiration and serving the dance community.

Thank you,


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!’