Dunya Dianne McPherson

Dancemeditation, a way of self-knowledge which includes, rather than excludes, the body, movement, dance, breath, intuition, and moving into the Subtle, is certainly my calling and my passion. From the beginning I loved to dance—in the living room, twirling around and around. Despite high achievement in professional dance (Juilliard, NYC concert performance, NY Times kudos full bio), I felt alienated from myself and my body. I ached for something deeper. I needed to dance my way into the heart of mysticism. When I did, I knew I’d come home. I know I’m not alone. Many of us know that our evolution, awakening, and becoming fully human happen in the spirit and the flesh. Join me in this seeking and finding, by plunging into our body which is our original gift and the door to understanding who and what we are.

Dunya Dianne McPherson, BFA, MA, is the Founder of Dancemeditation™ and a pioneer in the field of embodied mysticism. An acclaimed authority and meditative leader coming from an extensive background in mysticism and art (Juilliard School, Sufi Foundation of America), her teaching credentials include academic faculties, artist-residencies, and academic department chairmanship (including Barnard College, Princeton University, Swarthmore College, New York University, Hunter College, Oberlin College, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia among others) as well as Featured Presenter at meditation centers & conferences (Netherlands Mystic Festival, Kripalu Center, SAT Institute, The Embodiment Conference.) She is critically acclaimed as both dancer and choreographer, and a recipient of numerous choreographic grants including the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship. She teaches in-depth meditation trainings virtually, nationally and internationally. She is the author of Sojourn the Inner Heaven: Movement Meditations for Awakening, a guidebook and practice companion, and Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh, a literary memoir chronicling her dynamic journey in embodied mysticism.

“Dear inspiring, spirit-filled human, thank you for creating Dancemeditation. Thank you for realizing others need and want it. Thank you for bringing it and you to me. Watching you move is a little talisman of experience in my mind. I pull it out and stroke it and it reminds me to reach for that same sort of center in myself.”
– Sherry S.

“I have experienced many types of inner development, but nothing so reliably returns me to my center as Dunya’s work. She has a rare capacity to create a space in which the inner self can find its own level and unfold through whatever channel of awareness––physical, emotional or spiritual––spontaneously beckons to us. Much of the subtle power of her process is in its effortless joining of the polarities of our experience: still and vibrant, playful and intense, immediate and transcendent. In their essence, Dunya’s workshops go beyond both dance and our common notions of meditation to create a new form, melding the natural delight of the body with the natural freedom of the spirit. ” 
– Tom Anderson, Ph.D., psychologist, Austin, TX


“…a modern day Isadora Duncan…approached Ruth St. Denis as she slithered through an impudently sensuous belly dance…a vibrant performer…an unusual and talented choreographer.”
Jennifer Dunning, New York Times

“She knows how to put movement together…ingenious…adds up to good dancing and an original statement.”
New York Times

“…killer creative choreographer…the best belly dancer in the world…
Carman Moore, Village Voice

“I liked Dunya Dianne McPherson’s ‘Clan’ a lot. It was jaunty and it was breezy, but in very solid, unpretentious ways. Tidily structured but not tight-lipped.”
Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

“Her pure, solid dancing has never seemed so welcome to me…I think I held my breath in delight through the entire dance…The works soundly structured, with all the details meticulously etched, revealed the full extent of McPherson’s talent.”
Dance Magazine

“…elegant, confident, sensual…”
Kerri Hikida, Whole Life Times, LA

“…she evoked something essentially female, essentially powerful…”
Elizabeth Zimmer, Dance Magazine

“She has the lithe and leggy body of a ballerina and the articulate arm and leg movement of a butoh performer.”
Marene Gustin, Austin-American Statesman

“I see Dunya’s dances floating like feather down to the center of her big, elaborately patterned carpet…They merge with her body, she processes them, and they dance themselves right back out…Dunya’s [performance] is a very clean space on a psychic/spiritual level, a natural resting spot for dances.”
Stephanie Beauchamp, Austin Chronicle


“There are times when god stops the clock and I am suspended,  frozen in time. There is something about the suspension that provides a necessary contrast to the relentless motion of everyday life. Thank you for helping me be in stillness in motion, and watching the body’s intelligence emerge and communicate through the mind. These times are golden, as they are so hard to find, yet they tower over the details of everyday life, large and expansive.”  – Casita Negron Wild, psychotherapist

“Dear Dunya, Your workshop brought a new inner dimension to my life. It was not only the good healthy feeling from your exercises, breathing and dancing, not only the relaxation and the stress reduction, but the awareness of interior harmony. I enjoyed discovering the body movement coming from inside. The efficiency of your techniques, I believe, came mainly from the harmony between music, breathing, energy, meditation, and the moving. Thank you, and may many people benefit from your heavenly techniques. With deep gratitude,”
Sorin Costiner, Professor of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh

“Thank you once again for the opportunity to reconnect with you and all the lovely dancers. I love your work and how you create a safe space for us to explore and find our most beautiful selves. It takes me a while to get through the layers of crap to feel my beauty. I love this work because the fast way through all this stuff is non verbal. I have found my language and you and those who join you speak it too. It is nice to feel understood. I appreciate all your gifts to all of us.”
Wendy Bixby, Director of Hospice Austin, Austin, TX

“I wish I had found your work ten years ago. It would have saved me six treatments in drug rehab centers. Thank you!”
J.W., New York City

“These workshops have given me the ultimate gift of freedom––freedom to express myself in dance, freedom to feel the energy of the music, freedom to allow my body and my mind to connect without conscious control or inhibition––without Dunya ever having said a word.”
Adelia Ritchie, Ph.D. chemistry professor, Georgia Tech

“Thank you, Dunya, for thirteen years of inspired healing and teaching. Working and teaching Thai Yoga Massage in New York City requires a great deal of focused energy. My success in the work I do is a reflection of your silent meditation exercises. Your techniques allow me to return to that inner place of stillness and yet feel revitalized, energetic and creative. At home I practice your dance meditation videos and I continue to maintain the benefits of this unique work. I look forward to seeing you again. ”
Geri Ryan, Certified Massage Therapist New York, NY

“I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time I had at your workshop in San Francisco this past weekend.. I was entranced by the non-verbal nature of your workshop––it really allowed me to focus more deeply on my movement…all the subtle shifts and whispers in my body that I wouldn’t have noticed if my head was full of language. I came back to Southern CA feeling completely rejuvenated and refreshed It came at a time when I really needed it. Your work is so inspiring, so beautiful. I feel lucky to have experienced it.”
Gayle Brandeis, author of Self Storage, Fruitflesh

“During a vision facilitated by Dunya’s process I found my joy. I danced into my joy, slowly, becoming one with her. This joyous state had eluded me all my life but now I have lived in it ever since. My joy comes with me and my body everywhere we go. It’s just as wonderful as my wildest hopes.”
Celeste Roth, Electronics Engineer Instructor, FAA, EIT, MeD

“I have experienced many types of inner development, but nothing so reliably returns me to my center as Dunya’s work. She has a rare capacity to create a space in which the inner self can find its own level and unfold through whatever channel of awareness––physical, emotional or spiritual––spontaneously beckons to us. Much of the subtle power of her process is in its effortless joining of the polarities of our experience: still and vibrant, playful and intense, immediate and transcendent. In their essence, Dunya’s workshops go beyond both dance and our common notions of meditation to create a new form, melding the natural delight of the body with the natural freedom of the spirit. ”
Tom Anderson, Ph.D., psychologist, Austin, TX

“Dunya gave a workshop for us at L.A.C.C. It was such a successful occasion, for she shared with us, how it was she came to do this kind of relaxing movement after being a professional dancer. Her work is inspirational, innovating, and truly allows for the person to begin to discover a gentle and loving way to move and experience the beauty and joy of motion. It also allows us to connect with our own inner rhythms and vibrations in a manner that gives us permission to accept and honor ourselves. Through Dunya’s workshops, the joy of moving, the beauty of the dance, and a wonderful acceptance of ourselves as moving, living entities is experienced. I heartily recommend this workshop for anyone who wants to discover the joy of living and moving through dance. It is a healing experience that allows us to turn inward to the love and ecstasy experienced when we allow ourselves to just be. It opens an opportunity for us to have a dialogue with our bodies in a way that guides us to understand we have an intelligence in our body that is a profound knowing and desperately in these times needs to be heard and accepted. Dunya is a innovator in movement, as Candace Pert is in biochemistry. She represents the new paradigm of our times. To experience her movement, and be led through movement in her workshops with her expertise, is an unforgettable experience, that allows one to begin to explore the exciting reality of who we re ital living changing organism in motion. To experience such loving movement, is to experience the joy of life itself. Dunya is a unique master of movement, and the dance. Don’t miss the experience of her presence. It can be transforming.”
Laurienne Singer, M.A., Dance Therapist, faculty Los Angeles Community College, CA

“I am a physical being. I was never meant to be staring at a computer 10 hours a day, stuck to a chair and a telephone on one ear. This has been draining the life out of me. The weekend in Dancemeditation re-introduced me to myself. Thank you for helping rediscover my lost self. ”
Donna Felder, dental office manager, Pittsburgh, PA

“In Dunya’s workshops, I remember how to be myself. My essence unfolds, and my soul stretches like a newly-born baby as I approach my inner point of perfect stillness. All through motion and breathing. Beyond verbalizing. Beyond rationalizing. Beyond Understanding. I heal….”
Dr. Monica Grace, psychotherapist, Austin, TX

“I used to think you led. Then I thought you facilitated. Now I know that what you truly do is reveal essence.”
- Dr. Scott Elkin, physician, psychiatrist

from Kripalu Participants

“Dunya is amazing. She is a spiritual guide and one of the most grounded, down-to-earth people that I’ve met in a long time. The entire program was meaningful, buts it’s Dunya’s heart and soul that she puts into her work that touches each person individually making them feel special. Nothing can improve this fabulous program.”–Donna Ayer, IS Development Specialist, Boston MA

“As a student of Dunya’s, what was most meaningful was watching and hearing all the effortless learning, awakening, healing. Such a beautiful sight to be in the presence of this unfolding. Such a benefit to have the opportunity to be in the presence of such a true guide. She embodies the natural transmission of beauty, art, inner truth, meditation. A calm, spacious mind, open heart.”–Jane Schmidt, Yoga Teacher, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

“Most meaningful to me was the gentle leading, through movement, into the profound expression of grief I didn’t realize I’d been carrying. The experience took me places I didn’t know existed. It was very stirring, healing. I’m grateful.” –Jill Jacobsen, Marblehead, MA

“Dunya is an amazing, open-hearted teacher. She transmits her teaching to her students in a gentle and deep way. The program had a safe environment for us. This is a sacred and earthy program, with healing, empowering, and sensual components in the movement. The space Dunya held was spacious and allowing. There was trust in us. The whole learning process has been so natural and effective and deep. It is perfect as it is.” –Jovinna Chan, yoga teacher, MA

“What was most meaningful to me was accessing movement organically and sensually versus externally. The pace was phenomenal – luxuriously slow and full, with tremendous integrity in the transmission of heart and essence.”–anon

“Dunya’s teaching was a peak experience that will transform my life. She is extraordinary.”–Maya Lea, Curator, Madison, WI

“The ways Dunya guides us into/inside our bodies was revelatory in terms of how that informed movement as well as relationship to self and the Beyond.” –Healy Smith, MD, New York, NY

“Dunya was magnificent. All I can do is rave about her and her amazing program.” –Jane Knox, retired teacher, CT

“I love the space Dunya allows for personal process and the states I found in the spaces she opens.” –Kate Russel, Pilates instructor & dancer, London, UK

“I loved this course.” –Dana Bixby, architect, W. Stockbridge, MA

“I loved the sense of community, joy & respect. Dunya’s warmth exudes through every fiber.” –Wendy Courtney, LMY, Putnam Valley, NY

“Fantastic! Dunya’s style of teaching movement from the inside out is so effective. The most satisfying part of my Kripalu experience was the level of dance I got to in a five-day period and seeing the level of dance in my classmates. Inspiring!”–Anne Marie McDonald, educator, Weymouth. MA

“Dunya gave us a super excellent inner voyage! I loved going deeper and deeper while moving and dancing and connecting.”–anon

“Excellent, inspiring and fun!” –Jackie Perchard, PR, Boston, MA

Photo: Dunya by Daniel Falgerho

On Performance from Performers

“I really loved your performance at Jebon. I was shocked in a positive way. The impression you made on me that day is still vivid in my memory and sensory devices. When you dance you push the human, the space, the stage, and the mind boundaries. AND you are channeling something way over the physical body, over the judging mind.”
Anasma Vhong, dancer, teacher, choreographer, member of Bellyqueen

“Dunya’s performance was so beautiful. I once went to hear Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman play. They played beginingless, endless improvisation – no songs, no preamble, no nothing. They just played until they stopped. They seemed to open a trap door into some ongoing musical stream that had existed before they started to play and continued to exist after they finished. They tapped into this endless river. It was thrilling. Dunya dances like that. The minute she begins to move, she is completely at one with the movement; she embodies it so fully that the dramatic unfolding of the journey becomes mesmerizing, and ineffably right. Mostly I watch other people dance and think, huh, I would have done that differently. When Dunya dances there is no room for that, becasue the viewer is caught up in the immediacy of her choices and the organic evolution of the sequences, emotions, and spatial shifts. Her complete involvement with the movement brings the viewer into complete involvement with the movement. It is thrilling.”
Alia Thabit,   Vermont Arts Council Juried Artist, NEST Roster Artist

Full Biography

Dunya Dianne McPherson is a writer/author, choreographer/dancer, Shattari Sufi adept,  and Founder of Dancemeditation™ specializing in techniques that open the wonderment of deep, subtle, peaceful self-perception.

She holds a BFA in dance from the Juilliard School, MA in Writing from Lesley University, was an Artist Scholar at Columbia University, and trained extensively in yoga with Shri Dharma Mittra. Significant study with Master Dance Teachers whose work has influenced hers includes: Elena Lentini, Anahid Sofian, Janet Panetta and Alfredo Corvino. After 1001 days training in Sufism with Sufi Master Adnan Sarhan, Dunya received teaching permission.

Dunya is the author of Sojourn the Inner Heaven: Movement Meditations for Awakening, a guidebook and practice companion, and  Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh, a memoir chronicling her journey of dance & mysticism. She is a contributing author in How Do You Pray.

Dunya’s extensive teaching credits include:
Department Chair
: Victorian College of the Arts, Australia * Faculty: Kripalu Center * Master Classes & Residencies: Princeton University, Swarthmore College, Amherst College, Oberlin College, Mt. Holyoke College, University of Texas, New York University, Hunter College , Barnard College, Montclair State College, Mark Morris Dance Center, New York Open Center * Sufi Master: Mystic Festival in Netherlands, and SAT Conference, Colombia * Director & Spiritual Guide: Dervish Society of America

A National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellow, her choreographic commissions include Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Dance Uptown, High School of Performing Arts, Barnard College, Victorian College of the Arts, Santa Fe Performing Arts. She is the recipient of Massachusettes Arts Council grants, CETA Artists Grant, Texas Arts Council grants. Choreographic Vitae

She has performed widely as both concert dancer and as a Middle Eastern dancer. Her whirling veil dance is featured in the film Dances of Ecstasy. She directed the film/dance work, Shafi, for NOLA’s 2007 Dramarama Festival.

Dunya and her Dancemeditation work are widely referenced and profiled in books and journalism including: Your Body Mandala, Mary Bond, 2018; Midnight at the Crossroads: Has Bellydance Lost Its Soul?, Alia Thabit, 2018; Reckoning with Spirit in the Paradigm of Performance, Donnalee Dox, PhD, 2017; Conscious Dancer Magazine, Dancer Magazine, Contact Quarterly, Attitude Magazine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Austin American Statesman, Austin Chronicle, Innerchange Magazine, Spirit of Change Magazine, NYSpirit Magazine, XS Magazine Miami, Cape Cod Times, Whole Life Times LA, Body & Soul, and many others.

photo: Dunya McPherson by Paul B. Goode

Curriculum Vitae


  • Lesley University, MA in Writing
  • Sufi Foundation of America, Advanced Teaching Certification
  • Columbia University, Artist Scholar
  • Juilliard School, BFA
  • Significant professional study with Janet Panetta, ballet; Dharma Mittra, yoga; Anahid Sofian, Elena Lentino, Middle Eastern dance




  • Sojourn the Inner Heaven: Movement Meditations for Awakening, Dervish Society of America, 2021
  • How Do You Pray?, Contributing author, Monkfish Book Publishing, 2014
  • Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh. Dancemeditation Books, 2008.
  • Blog: Dancemeditation since 2011


  • Movement Research Performance Journal, ’On Release’, author, 1999
  • Whole Life Times LA, ’Healing Dance’, author, 1998
  • Dancer Magazine, author, 1993
  • Tantra Magazine (National distribution), Cover feature & story, author, 1992



  • National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship (1995)
  • Massachusetts Arts Council/LCC Grant (2000)
  • City of Austin Grant (1996, 1997) under Texas Arts Council
  • Cultural Council Foundation’s CETA Artist’s Project (1978-79)




  • Your Body Mandala: Posture as the Path to Presence by Mary Bond. MCP Books, 2018. Work cited and referenced.
  • Reckoning with Spirit in the Paradigm of Performance by Donnalee Dox. University of Michigan Press, 2016. Extensively interviewed for Chapter 2, ‘Spirituality in Practice and Performance.’ Dox’ research focuses on religion and the human body.
  • Midnight at the Crossroads: Has belly dance sold its soul? by Alia Thabit. Dance Arts Books. 2018. Extensively interviewed.
  • Universal Dancer Podcast, Featured Guest with host Leslie Zehr. Programing focuses on artists and writers in sacred dance, sacred arts, and ancient wisdom traditions. 2021
  • Movers and Shakers Podcast, Featured Guest with host Erin Carlisle Norton. The personal stories, experiences, and ideas from those who shape the dance field. 2019


  • The Embodiment Conference, Featured Presenter — Global Conference online for 450,000 participants, 2020
  • Oregon State University Contemplative Studies Program, Corvallis, OR, Master Teacher Residency, 2017—2019
  • SAT Program (Directed by Claudio Narajno), Featured Sufi Master, residencies in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, France, 2012—2018
  • Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Master Class in ‘Dance & the Sacred’, 2009
  • Sufi Mystik Festival, Utrech, Netherlands, Featured Sufi Master for international conference, 2008
  • Kripalu Center, Stockbridge, MA, Presenter, Spiritual Bellydance & Dancemeditation, since 2006
  • Swarthmore College, PA, Master Teacher Residency, ‘Dance and the Sacred’, 2000
  • Oberlin College, OH, Master Teacher Residency, 1998
  • Hunter College, NYC, Master Teacher Residency, 1993
  • New York University, NYC, Master Teacher Residency, 1976


Dancemeditation™, meditation, Shattari Sufism, Fluid Yoga, stress management, Spiritual Bellydance, modern dance, ballet, choreography

Nonacademic Teaching
Founder of Dancemeditation™ & Principal Teacher for Dervish Society of America, since 1997 conducting training, retreats, & seminars online and in-person worldwide. 

Academic Faculty

  • Montclair State College, Montclair, NJ, faculty; Modern Dance, Composition. Repertoire, 1980-81, 1983-86
  • Grand Valley State Colleges, Allendale, MI, faculty; Modern Dance, Composition. Repertoire, 1982
  • Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia, Department Chair of Modern Dance Program, 1980
  • Barnard College, NYC, faculty; Modern Dance, Middle Eastern Dance. Repertoire, 1979-80
  • The Juilliard School, NYC, substitute faculty; 1976-77



Western dance forms, 1971-2014

  • Dunya, solo performance of original works since 1993—2014 presented nationally including NY Improvisation Festival 98 & Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, 1996.
  • Company dancer including Pearl Lang Dance Company, Guest soloist, 1979; Lincoln Center Touring Company, 1975; Hannah Kahn & Dancers, 1978-81; Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre, soloist 1974-77 among others.

Middle Eastern Dance, 1983-1997

  • Anahid Sofian Dance Company, company dancer, 1983-1986.
  • Numerous performances with prestigious musicians including Joe Zeytoonian, Sudan Baronian, Haig Manonkian, Shamira Shahinian in nightclubs, restaurants, and at private parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, celebrations, and gallery openings, 1985—1997.



Original Choreographic Works & Choreographic Staging
Over 50 original works commissioned and funded by National Endowment for the Arts, by various State and City Arts Council Grants, and by presenting organizations including Dance Uptown, NYC, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC, as well as numerous dance programs including High School for Performing Arts, NYC and university dance programs nationally. Choreographic staging includes Oberlin Music Theatre’s ‘Four Saints in Three Acts’ (libretto, Gertrude Stein, composer Virgil Thompson) and the off-Broadway production of ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ by Equity Library Theatre, NYC.


ADDITIONAL PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES include extensive involvement in dance company direction and rehearsal direction notably School of American Ballet (New York City Ballet School, 1976) and London Contemporary School of Dance (1977) 1976—2014.