Just looking at Stazya Richman and Myriah Pazereckas, one might not think the two women have much in common: Richman is a classically trained vocalist who sings like a bird and Pazereckas is a counselor with an analytical mind. But one thing the two longtime friends are enthusiastic about is Dances of Universal Peace (DUP), the monthly song and dance movement that takes place in the Colville Public Library.
“I came in contact with it (DUP) over 35 years ago when I was in Berlin, before the wall fell,” recalls Richman, who organized the local DUP with Pazereckas 10 years ago. “They were doing the dances at a holistic center where I was working.”
Pazereckas first learned about the dances while attending a Sufi camp in Mexico.
“I really came to it with a beginner’s mind,” says Pazereckas. “I was impressed by how varied and inclusive they were.”
The Dances of Universal Peace were started in the 1960s by Sufi teacher and Zen master Samuel L. Lewis. The dances are easy to follow music and movements set to songs from the world’s spiritual and religious traditions. Practitioners are from all walks of life and faiths. Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim-- no one gets left out. Anyone and everyone is invited to attend.
The next dances are Sunday, Feb.16 in the Colville Public Library basement. A potluck dish and small donation to go to the cost of facility rental is appreciated.
“When we decided to do this, we made a pact that whether three or 30 people showed up, we were just gong to offer the dances to people,” says Richman. “Some people get shy and claim they can’t dance, but if you can move, you can dance these dances. Just think of it as a moving prayer.”
Neither woman sees Dances of Universal Peace as a conflict to their own faiths. Richman is Jewish, and both women have seen nuns, priests and devotees of various religions participate in the dances.
“It’s not exclusive, or in contradiction to your traditional faith,” states Pazereckas. “If all these different faiths eat, dance and pray together, we create peace. We have more similarities than we do differences.”
For more information about the dances, call Pazereckas at 684-1590 or Richman at 684-7761.
Check out the website at www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org .