The Philosophy

The use of dance to tell stories of illness and healing is an ancient, global tradition. Kuchipudi dance, one of the seven classical Indian dance forms from Andhra Pradesh, uses natya, nritta and nritya—storytelling, moving to rhythms, and expressing—to tell stories of Hindu mythos. Narrating through rhythms, song, poetry, music and movement with the body binds the audience quickly. This technique has been used in Cuenca dance in Peru, Baganda dance of the Luganda people, Karamojong dances of Southern Sudan, Gnaoua lila of Morocco, Hmong traditional healing dances of Laos, and Khmer classical dance of Cambodia. In traditional dance cultures around the world, stories of what is most prized, components of religion, sacred food, connection to the environment, sickness, healing, and gender roles are constantly intertwined in the movement, music, and community dance brings together.

Medicine believes that the core of addressing sickness is collecting a strong history and performing an appropriate physical exam [1]. In other words, we ask for the patient’s narrative–the myth–and we observe the movements–the dance–of the body. Public health research understood that their stories has many elements of culture, religion, family history, social history, and belief systems[2,3,4]. Thus, innovative interventions have involved connecting with community healers and midwives, creating art on prevention methods, traiing local professionals to treat others, and adding filters to existing methods of water collection. As medical and public health professionals, we inadvertently obseve the factors outlined in traditional dance cultures–the food, the community, the religion, the culture, the music, and the dance–this patient follows.

The parallels between modern medicine and its culture and traditional dance cultures are compelling .

The Aseemkala Initiative is a traditional dance collective of physicians-in-training focused on connecting the innate parallels between traditional dance and modern medicine. AI provides a medium for stories of medicine to represent the diverse physician and patient population through their manifestation through traditional dances.

The Aseemkala Initiative aims to preserve diversity and promote intersectionality between indigenous communities hoping to heal from the current, rapid process of loss of cultural knowledge [6,7,8]. With medicine as a form of modern globalization, communities are often discarding their knowledge of plants, medicines, and treatments as well as disconnecting with their local community. By performing narratives of medicine in all cultures through many dances, we hope to empower traditional artists, healers, and community youth through integrating traditional knowledge into their modern lives. We also hope to use the foundation of the arts to one day support indigenous movements, protests, and health through modern medicine.

The Aseemkala Initiative is focused on reconnecting the dancer-doctor, showing that despite many traditional languages of dance and the many manifestations of illness and medicine, the human body and experience is shared and celebrated.

There is an innate connection between what medicine does and what traditional dance does for the human condition. We are intent on breaking the barrier that perceives them as two separate spheres. Aseemkala means “Without Borders”. We are grateful you are joining us. Welcome!

[1] Muhrer, Jill C. “The Importance of the History and Physical in Diagnosis.” The Nurse Practitioner 39.4 (2014): 30-35. Web.

[2] Thomas, Stephen B., Michael J. Fine, and Said A. Ibrahim. “Health Disparities: The Importance of Culture and Health Communication.” American Journal of Public Health 94.12 (2004): 2050. Print.

[3]Airhihenbuwa, Collins O., Chandra L. Ford, and Juliet I. Iwelunmor. “Why Culture Matters in Health Interventions.” Health Education & Behavior 41.1 (2014): 78-84. Web.

[4]Asad, Asad L., and Tamara Kay. “Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions.” Social Science & Medicine 144 (2015): 79-87. Web.

[5]Bassett, Deborah, Ursula Tsosie, and Sweetwater Nannauck. “‘Our Culture Is Medicine’: Perspectives of Native Healers on Posttrauma Recovery Among American Indian and Alaska Native Patients.” The Permanente Journal 16.1 (2012): 19–27. Print.


[7]Ellis, L. (2003). Traditional medicine: an under-utilized resource. 25 Feb 2008, from

[8]Health in Belize: changing lifestyles. Feb 26, 2008, from