Sarah Granholm Creative | Dancing paths
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Dancing paths

About This Project

Around the world, many individuals exist in a reality of continuing gender-based violence in which rights, including the right to make decisions about one’s body, are denied. India is a prime destination for female trafficking victims (U.S Department of State 2015). However, exact statistics are impossible to gather due to the complex and illicit nature of the issue. Patriarchy, societal norms, ability, caste, tradition and sexual orientation impinge on discrimination against women (UN Human Rights Council 2015). Male victims are also subjected to sexual violence and an understanding of the healing and rehabilitation process for both men and women is essential (World Health Organisation 2014).

Amid the darkness of such violence and significant violation of human rights, people are working to keep it at bay. I met heroes in Kolkata, India. The individuals I met are connected by their belief in the creative and therapeutic practice of dance movement therapy (DMT), based on the idea that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected. They know that dance can change lives; they are a part of an organisation called Kolkata Sanved, which uses DMT as an alternative approach to counselling, psychosocial rehabilitation, expression and empowerment for survivors of sexual violence and trafficking. These DMT practitioners reimagine the perception of the body and help others to see that the body is not something to be ashamed of but something to be appreciated as an instrument of expression and creativity. These individuals fought for their rights, stood against exploitation, moved back patriarchal boundaries and are now themselves helping many survivors to do the same.

From the moment I was introduced to this beautiful world in which movement and wellbeing are the focal points of social justice work, I noticed how the practitioners were dancing their life stories. They dared to move and they dared to move forward. The correlation between body, mind, movement and emotion was evident. I saw how dance could positively impact an individual’s perception of the body and self and I wondered how I could portray this. I asked the practitioners to paint their stories using movement and a flash light. Using improvisational movement, each expressed their story without words, creating patterns of light caught on camera. Their movements mirrored their journeys and I was able to translate these paths and patterns to photographs. With this project, I sought to highlight the issues of sex trafficking and gender based violence. I also wished to portray hope by focusing on positive change through the use of dance movement therapy.

Dance is continuous change; on the surface it is a series of movements, but at a deeper lever, it is a force that contributes to personal development and on an even larger scale, social change. The healing powers of creative therapies are immense and during the course of the project, I experienced how outer movement translate to inner movement and vice verca. I experienced joy, hope and a pure love for dance. At one point as I was interviewing a dance movement therapy practitioner, I realised she was saddened. When I asked if she would like to rest she said confidently, “No Sarah, I want to dance”.

For more information about Kolkata Sanved and how to contribute, please visit www.kolkatasanved.org or email kolkatasanved@gmail.com

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Art, Dance, Photography