Peace movement: Carbondale Dance brings together community |

Peace movement: Carbondale Dance brings together community

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Even if you never dip a toe into her world of dance, hearing Terrilyn Richardson describe it is quite the experience.

“The joyfulness of it, the recognition of the peace ” it’s very hard to put into words,” the Glenwood Springs resident said.

Her face was lit with enthusiasm, and her eyes were fixed into focus. Her voice was genuine and calm and magnetic.

Surely, she was explaining the Dances of Universal Peace a little better than she thought.

On Saturday, Richardson, 58, will join a collection of people as they celebrate the dance. The group will be taught basic, repetitive movements and chants. Then, as they rotate around the room, they will stare deep into each other’s eyes and perform what they have learned.

The point, as she explained it, is not to promote any one religion or thought form. It’s about building a sense of togetherness, of creation and love.

And if this all sounds a bit ’60s to you, that’s because it is.

Relatively new to peace dancing, Richardson was uneasy listing its history. Instead, she left a sheet of words, straight from the International Network for the Dances of Universal Peace.

It all began, it read, at the end of the 1960s with Samuel L. Lewis, a Sufi teacher. Then in his 70s, he had a vision of people finding joy through communal dances, each a combination of different cultural influences. His idea of “peace through arts” grew from a collection of 50 simple dances to more than 500. Somehow, 30-odd years after Lewis’ death, thousands of people worldwide are still moving to his beat.

“The Dances are an experience that all the world would be fortunate enough to enjoy,” reads the sheet.

It was obvious how fortunate Richardson feels. A self-described “seeker,” in the last 18 years she has taken a course in miracles, been on silent retreats, done yoga. But when she came across the dancing last year, it fit like nothing before.

Recovering from a car accident, she had been unable to return to her work as a massage therapist for months. She was feeling restless and out-of-sorts when a friend introduced to her to the dance, led by her now-mentor, Bernie Heideman. Then, there it was ” light.

“I just took to it like a fish to water.” she said. “True, absolute love came from me and came into me from all the other darkness.”

“It was like a turning point in my life.”

As her body continued to heal, Richardson delved deeper into the dancing. She attended all the events she could, even going to dance camps in Utah and Montana. There, as she ate and drank and moved among strangers, she felt surrounded by community.

“I realized this is love, because, to me, giving love is just being present with a person,” she said. “To be looking into his eyes, her eyes, and feel my heart open.”

To those who might hear this as “hippie speak,” Richardson had little response. She just continued to smile. She wasn’t trying to convince anyone of anything, though she was full of kind, positive words. She stressed that everyone, regardless of age, religion or ability, is welcome at the dances.

Soon, she went on, she will travel down to Silver City, N.M., where she will continue a training course in leading the art. That’s just how much she believes in the form.

Beyond friends, family and making a living, she said, “It has become really the most important thing in my experience.”

But you probably guessed that already.

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

WHAT: Dances of Universal Peace, led by Bernie Heideman

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday

WHERE: A Spiritual Center, 0695 Buggy Circle in Carbondale

COST: A “peace offering”

WHY? Because everyone is welcome ” really.


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