ASEEMKALA MEANS ‘ART WITHOUT BORDERS’ IN SANSKRIT.
Traditional dances consistently represent the beliefs of indigenous communities around the world. The values revealed through danced mythology can still be seen today in the performances by diverse classical and traditional artists. The Aseemkala Initiative believes there is an inherent healing in traditional dance performances–in the music, lyrics, dance gestures, religious rites, sacred food, and cultural storytelling offered to a connected community audience. The Aseemkala Initiative believes that reframing indigenous cultural arts in the context of medical narratives can be the foundation for much needed social empowerment of indigenous communities around the world.
We do this through three main approaches.
INTERCULTURAL FEMALE CHOREOGRAPHY
The Aseemkala Initiative works with diverse indigenous communities to create cross-cultural dance stories. We hope co-choreography enables women participants to be in charge of their own stories and cultural preservation as they see appropriate and also share experiences with other indigenous communities. Through this process of dance creation, we learn how indigenous communities specifically treat women’s health, such as perceptions of menstruation, remedies for post-partum pains, preferred positions and culturally appropriate methods of delivery, and beliefs surrounding the birthing process. We learn health behaviors through traditional dance-based integration and choreography. Empowering one woman in a community to see her artistic culture as a intrinstic tool for health improvement, we believe, will form the seed of change needed to improve health for indigenous communities.
TRADITIONAL DANCE AS A PUBLIC HEALTH MODEL
The holistic, natural structures of traditional dances make them a medium for optimum delivery of medical care and for changing health behaviors, especially in resource-constrained settings. Furthermore, current literature and guidelines are not cognizant of the sociopolitcocultural needs and realities of each indigenous community. Eventually, we plan to create indigenous community-designed clinics to offer women’s healthcare in conjunction with traditional female-led models of medicine.
PHYSICIAN REINTEGRATION INTO COMMUNITIES WITH DANCE
Reintegrating the physician-healer-dancer back into the community is essential for the Aseemkala Initiative to create change. For too long, modern medicine has tried to separate the patient from the physcian, drawing them as different entities. Traditional medical cultures say the opposite; they ask the physician to be the artist, dancing with the people. In this way, both the physician and patient heal together. The Aseemkala Initiative asks physicians and physicians-in-training to bring their traditional dance forms to tell their own stories in our History and Physical Dance Series. Dancing together breaks down walls that divide physicians from the community and physicians from themselves.
VISION, VALUES & GOALS
By connecting traditional dance with stories of modern medicine, the Aseemkala Initiative hopes to redefine our global health practices through the following core objectives:
- To preserve the global fund of knowledge of mothers around the world by making their stories known and heard
- To create inter-indigenous communications between communities facing similar challenges through traditional dance choreographies.
- To eventually bring medical care in a sustainable, appropriate, empowering format
- To celebrate our shared humanity as physicians and patients