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Something new and different in the dance line has turned up at the Westmoreland Union Manor

RITA A. LEONARD - Local Sufi Dance leader Alys Allwardt, of the Reed neighborhood, sings with drummer Zahir Keith Moree, keyboardist Pat Adamson, and guitarist Qahira Peco. The date set for Westmoreland Union Manor residents to host their first monthly meeting of the Sufi spiritual group "Dances of Universal Peace" was December 15.

The observance was to be introduced by Certified Dance Leader Alys Allwardt, a Reed neighborhood resident, and leader of the "One Heart Circle" Chapter. About two dozen residents were set to participate in the hour-long gentle and low-key circle dance and songfest.

Allwardt told THE BEE that the dance "integrates spiritual phrases and music from interfaith traditions in a dance honoring peace, healing, and the wisdom of the Creator. Some dances come from a specific tradition, but most arise from inspiration." These include chants from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.

Sufis brought to American attention about 40 years ago in San Francisco by Samuel Lewis, a student of many religions, according to Allwardt, adding that Lewis was inspired by two spiritual teachers: Hazrat Inayat Khan, who introduced Sufism to the western world; and Ruth St. Denis, a pioneer of modern dance.

According to Khan, "Sufis are those who focus on the innermost self, and cultivate the garden of the heart. They see Divine Presence in all names and forms, and strive to be free of religious dogma. Sufism, meaning 'wisdom', is viewed as an open door to truth, and the discovery of God's love within."

Allwardt assures THE BEE that the One Heart Circle chapter is both family-friendly and ADA-accessible, and you don't have to be a resident of Westmoreland Union Manor on S.E. 23rd Avenue to participate. More information is available by calling 503/260-9916, or going online to – www.dancesofuniversalpeacena.org


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