Midwest Regional Retreat: Dances of Universal Peace

I got wind of this retreat, and decided it was time to again participate in another soul-baring, heart-wrenching weekend with other beloveds who love to circle dance to sacred phrases of all the world’s religions. This retreat was held Thursday evening through Sunday noon, March 29 through April 1 at a lodge outside Plano, Illinois, a 4.5 hour drive from here during which I could progressively, though temporarily, shed all my worldly concerns.

On arrival, we women were directed to the upstairs “dorm” —

— which in reality consisted of single rooms with thin walls between and a large common bathroom.

Notice the left hand corner below in poster above. That’s Sufi Sam, who started the Dances of Universal Peace in his basement in the Mission District of San Francisco. That was 50 years ago, and the Dances have now spread to every corner of the world.

Here’s from a Ram Dass appreciation of Sufi Samuel Lewis:

For our event, the organizers decided to make it “open source,” drawing from local leaders in small and large midwestern towns, rather than having a well-known teacher come from afar. Which made for an exciting weekend, with lots of diversity. And as Mary Martha pointed out, this is how Sufi Sam saw the dances evolve, in a decentralized, networked manner.

The coordinating committee had to keep track of ten different teachers, each of whom was to teach three dances each. So complicated! About 40 of us plus wonderful musicians danced in two-hour segments: one Thursday eve, three on Friday and Saturday (morning, afternoon, evening), and one on Sunday morning. That’s 16 hours of full-on dancing and singing, hearts opening wide, souls fully engaged, going “Towards the One” with every step, on our feet the whole time. Plenty of us sat out some of the dances, including myself!

During our afternoon breaks, I walked the paths, which reminded me very much of southcentral Indiana, where I live. Same forest, same little river. Very sweet. First pic: their labyrinth, centered around a tree. Second picture: the lodge.

Next, more dancing!

We are all highly aware that the age range of dancers and dance teachers is mostly ’60s hippies, which means we’re mostly elders now, and there aren’t many new ones coming up through the ranks. We did have two very young ones with us, both college sophomores, one of whom is the daughter of Naomi, a long-time dancer/teacher and musician.

On the table in the hallway, more events announced. Will I go?

The Wali Ali retreat will be in Fort Wayne. I do plan to attend.

Here’s the sunset on final evening. Notice the streaking chemtrails . . .

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