In the late 1960’s, Samuel Lewis, then in his early 70’s, began to envision and create the Dances and the associated walking practices, as a dynamic method to promote “Peace through the Arts.” The dances were the fruit of his contact and spiritual apprenticeship with two people: Hazrat Inayat Khan, who first brought the message of universal Sufism to the West in 1910, and Ruth St. Denis, a feminist pioneer in the modern dance movement in America and Europe.
For more details of how the Dances came about, see this timeline of the Dances of Universal Peace.
From around 50 original dances created by Samuel Lewis, the collection has grown to more than 500, which is spreading around the world, through an international network of trained Dance leaders.
They continue to be, as Samuel Lewis envisioned them, a way to make life-energy and the peace which passes understanding a reality for all who come in contact with them.
A centre for the Dances of Universal Peace was organised in 1983 to further the work begun by Samuel Lewis and to help make the Dances available to all people. Now called the Dances of Universal Peace International, it has a growing membership in 22 different countries.
The Dances of Universal Peace UK was established in 1990, and is affiliated to the DUP International. His work also continues through the teachers of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, the order which Murshid Sam founded.