Dunya Biography & Press
Dunya Dianne McPherson, BFA, MA, is an acclaimed authority and meditative leader. Juilliard graduate, Shattari Sufi Master, and NEA Choreography Fellow, Dunya’s teaching credits include Princeton University, Swarthmore College, New York University, Hunter College, Barnard College, New York Open Center and others. Dunya has her MA in writing and is the author of Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh, a memoir about dance as a spiritual path.
Dunya Dianne McPherson is a dancer, choreographer, author, and Shattari Sufi Master Teacher. As Founder and Principal Teacher of Dancemeditation™, she specializes 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. Her new memoir, Skin of Glass: Finding Spirit in the Flesh, chronicles her journey of dance & mysticsim.
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.
“…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.”
“…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
Photographs: Paul B. Goode