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Dances of Universal Peace & Chanting in public
experiences and feedback from "Dancing in the Street"
by Ralph Nimmann,   R a i n b o w   D a n c e   Cambridge   (3 Jan 2001)

See also article about DUP Outreach & Introducing the DUP at the Subud World Congress 2005
& Dances of Universal Peace for TV? Reflections & discussion, 2011

As part of the programme "Cambridge at Christmas" Dec 2000, which aimed to entertain Christmas shoppers, we offered a real alternative: Dances of Universal Peace and Chanting on the market place for everyone to join in.

By the nature of the meditative "Dances of Universal Peace" it was quite a risky task to do them on the market place - so here are our experiences (just in case you consider a similar venture):

If I had to find a headline, summarising our situation, it would probably be:
"Worst Case Scenario"

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace


Most of our regular attendees did not join us in the public, so we were only a group of less than a handful. The most difficult step was to start the first dance; after this a kind of magic bubble surrounded us, which gave us a feeling of safety. Most people did not seem to take much notice of us, so we gradually forgot about them, chanted, danced and had a lot of fun. The reaction of people passing by was friendly; some smiled and took a leaflet, nobody joined in on the spot. English people are probably too tolerant or polite to show any upset reactions. We did have some difficult moments (see below), but:

all in all the experience was positive. If we can get more people actively involved, most certainly it will be more successful.

Some Questions are still open, like:

I have not come to a final conclusion myself yet - Please contact me. Ralph

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

The struggle to get people motivated "to do it in the public"

When I presented this wonderful opportunity to my group, it created an email conversation, which went on after we had started this public class. All positive feedback came from people who could not join in - the doubtful voices came mostly from the core group (and at a point when it was too late to stop it): These were the thoughts and feelings of the people who did NOT participate. I took 2 angel cards for the coming "Dancing in the Street": the first was "Integrity", which I took as a positive sign, the second angel card was "Courage", which seemed to be a warning: what would be the use of courage, if there were no danger?
Anyway, it was too late, the decision was made and so the first of four "public rehearsals" was to come...
Below you find some feedback from the participants and myself. Ralph

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

The first Sunday, 11am

We were only 3 of us: Tony was enthusiastic, Julie a bit afraid, I was nervous. At least the arcades of "Boots" provided shelter from the occasional rain. After we overcame the initial hesitation to start, our singing seemed to create a kind of protective aura. We forgot were we were, had a lot of laughter, lots of spirit partners and really good fun. The people seemed used to having musicians or singing around at this spot; people walked by and either didn't seem to take any notice of us or they smiled, while we spread the spirit and good vibrations.

My friend Kathrin passed by in a shopping hurry: she had difficulties dragging her children with her, because they enjoyed our chanting and dancing. One man watched us for a while; when we ended the dance, I invited him to join in: "Oh no, I'm too English to do such a thing" was his honest reply. Us 3 had a great time and fun together for two hours.

I asked Julie to share her experience:

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

The 2nd time: Wednesday 5pm Market Place - the first challenge

Right in front of the guildhall was the arranged dance point. Market people were closing their stalls, it was getting dark. This time we had 2 music stands: one on each side, with information about the dances. Again we started with 3, felt more confident.

After the first dance a carrot landed in the centre of our circle. I looked up - and then over to the veggie and fruit stall 20 meters away. A carrot thrown at us! My solarplex became tense. Tony said: "just ignore them!" Suddenly all the warnings and doubts of the others jumped to my mind. Here was my small flock of peace sheep under attack - we cannot possible go on as nothing happened!

I decided to directly approach the attacker, went some steps towards the stall, opened my arms and shouted: "Can I have another one?" A young lad packing boxes hesitatively threw a carrot towards me which I tried to catch. So it has been he! And he knew I received his carrot. So I hoped that would be the end of his game - and we went on with "Haida Haida.." My about 80 year old friend Margery passed by and joyfully joined us while dancing (which she never did before).
Another carrot and an orange came rolling into our circle.

At this point the Universe decided to help: it sent a big blue van to park as a protection between the stall and our circle. How do I know it was the Universe? Because the van had a code that showed it was for me: "www.deutschepostag.co.uk" it said (I am German). I never heard or saw this before, and I felt thankful for this help.

The rest was easy and lovely, especially when Amy and Dan with their tiny baby joined our circle. Then the van drove away, leaving an empty fruit stall. Many people took leaflets and some windows were opened (so that the people could hear our singing better). We finished earlier, because it was rather cold and windy - but we felt warm inside.

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

The 3rd time: Wednesday 5pm, at Boots again - another challenge

The weather was mild, no rain - but also hardly any participants. We started as before: Julie, Tony and me. "Bismillah, Alhamdulilla..." One thing was irritating me: a drunken man on the bench just 5 meters from us. He stood up and came closer, with his spirit in his bottle and all around him. Part of me wanted to tell him: "Go away and don't disturb us, we want to sing about love, mercy and compassion - and you will spoil our image.." but I realised that might not be the right thing to do.
When we finished, he came closer to me and asked: "What are you doing?" I replied: "Singing and dancing of spiritual songs from all over the world".

Swaying he looked in my eyes holding onto his bottle and came closer. I wondered what went on in him, if he felt aggressive towards us? Then he put his head on my shoulder and started crying. At this point Julie took her bag and left Tony and me - it was not her day. So after a little while I padded his shoulder and said, we've to get on with singing.

While Tony and I danced to one of my own lively Jewish dances with clapping, the man suspiciously watched us and came closer again. By the end of the dance, he managed to pull out a huge crucifix, which he wore under his shirt and showed this to us. I understood. The next song and dance I internally dedicated to him: "God has given me the power, to change my way, heal the broken..." and after this we sang a lively Taizé round: "Gloria in excelsis, Halleluja!".

He got the message and probably thought that we were OK and strolled away. We felt quite relieved and enjoyed singing and dancing. We ended up with more spirit partners than ourselves and were rather in good spirits. Then my friend Carolin joined us for the last half-hour.

I wondered why nobody stopped - most people seemed so terribly busy. Later I met my pagan friend Kay, and she said how much our dancing did help her:

Now here is Tony's feedback, who participated in all first three "Dancing in the Street" sessions:

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

And the last one: Sunday 11am Market Place

I was there well in time. Just as I put the music stands out, this professional German musician with his mobile electric street stage approached me rather aggressive: He just had moved his stuff here and now I was about to tell him that I was pre-booked at this place. After 10 minutes of complaining about the bad city management information policy he calmed down and we finally arranged, that I would move to the other end of the guildhall, under the Christmas tree.

And so it was: I was all by myself today - the others were tied up elsewhere. I displayed the specially printed leaflets ("Drop your shopping bag and join our circle!") on 2 music stands. After carefully assessing the situation, I decided to give up the idea of forming a circle; so I became a street musician and just chanted "Hallelujah" and everything which came to my mind. It was OK.

Then my friend Marie-Therese came for some shopping on the Sunday market. She immediately joined me and we chanted together for a while. I even taught her a new dance of mine. What a difference it made: another person! It was so much more fun together...

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

Background of "Dancing in the Street":

After registering my "Dances of Universal Peace & Chanting" at the Central Library database, I received an invitation to participate in the "Cambridge at Christmas" programme from the City Centre Manager. They produced a glossy leaflet with mentioning many shops on one side and events, entertainment, a map, parking, etc. on the other side. The entertainment section included the name "Dances of Universal Peace & Chanting" together with 7 more dance, drama and music groups. 150 000 copies were printed and sent to all households, hotels and public information points. You may now understand, why I felt excited and hoping for another chance for publicity for the dances. And I did remember my vision of the Dances (which I put on the Internet 3 years ago). Unfortunately their web site (www.cambridge-city-centre.co.uk) with a link to our dance programme did NOT go online.

At the following dates and places we sang and danced in the streets of Cambridge / UK before Christmas 2000:

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

And this was the flyer text I made, hoping for people to join us:

Come and join the Dances of Universal Peace & Chanting
Drop your shopping bag in the centre of our circle and do something special for peace today: healing and reviving mind, body and spirit

Logo circle of hearts Chanting - spiritual songs round the world
This is not a performance.
Dances of Universal Peace - peace in motion: Chant, movement and meditation from the world's spiritual traditions. Dedicated towards multi-cultural understanding and peace - within and without. Take a break from being a spectator to renew a compassionate connection to others, nature and the sacred.

We think there is nothing wrong in praising the source of all creation in many forms, names and languages by singing and dancing with an open heart. "If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance" (African saying). Absolute beginners are invited to join us on the spot!

If you like to join our open circle again, please turn over for the programme!

Dances of      protected DUP Logo: circle of hearts      Universal Peace

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