Sampoornata: Dance Movement Therapy for Change

Dance Movement Therapy facilitates healing, transformation, employment opportunities, and social integration for marginalized populations.

Photo of Sohini Chakraborty
0 0

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Dr. Sohini Chakraborty

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • India

Where are you making a difference?

India, West Bengal, Kolkata India, Maharashtra, Mumbai

Website or social media url(s) @kolkatasanved

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $100k - $250k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

It was a colourfully crowded evening at the Kolkata Book Fair in 1996. While navigating from one bookstall to the next, a poster mounted on the wall of one stall captured post graduate student Sohini Chakraborty's attention. It was a photograph of a girl with a poem: “They sell me, my own blood for some gold and some silver, I rinse and rinse my mouth but the taste of treachery remains, I am no more bride to be, I am no more mother to be, I am no more future to be." She entered the stall to inquire after this message and shortly thereafter embarked on a new journey -- one which involved the use of dance to heal and transform lives. Thus, an idea, a deep passion, and a strong belief became a collective power, known today as Kolkata Sanved.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Within a patriarchal society, young women from underserved communities are often exploited or abused because of their gender. This mistreatment results in a poor sense of self, value, and safety, thus disabling victims from developing the self-efficacy and social skills necessary for independence and employability. Cycles of oppression disadvantage all of society by preventing a subsection of its members from becoming productive contributors.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Kolkata Sanved believes that Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) provides a tailored response to contemporary issues of gender oppression. By utilizing motion as communication in order to access, process, and heal from feelings that exist at the nonverbal level, DMT supports participants in overcoming the body-mind division that often occurs in cases of trauma. Kolkata Sanved is considered a pioneer in the field of DMT, having adapted the practice to a high-context cultural paradigm for use toward social development in India and other parts of South Asia. This acclimatized model for DMT, coined Sampoornata (meaning “fulfillment”) focuses on rehabilitation through all human aspects: physical, emotional, mental, and social. Perhaps most noteworthy about the Sampoornata approach to DMT is the leadership development embedded in its program strategy and cycles. The ultimate goal of Sampoornata is to transform survivors of gender-based violence into healers, leaders, and advocates for gender equality. Sampoornata achieves this through an ecosystemic program pipeline that provides participants with the opportunity to train in Dance Movement Therapy and, eventually, become working practitioners.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Dance Movement Therapy is unique as a rehabilitation technique in that it employs the body and somatic movement as means for expression, emotional processing, and trauma-informed care. As an adaptation to high-context culture, Sampoornata uses therapies in a communal context, leveraging the collective in order to create a sense of safety amongst participants and encourage social integration. The ultimate goal of Sampoornata is to transform survivors of gender-based violence into healers, leaders, and advocates for gender equality. As a result of the organization's Training for Trainers program, 70% of Kolkata Sanved’s staff has emerged from communities of service, with five founding members serving on the Senior Leadership Team.

(Instructions for questions 5 and 6, no answer required) Please only answer the question (5 - “employability” or 6 - “financial capability”) that applies to your organization’s topic of work (see below for definitions)


5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

The Dance Movement Therapy Leadership Academy, also known as Training for Trainers, is a one-year training and leadership program designed to transform program participants into healers and DMT practitioners. Upon completion, junior therapists enter the workforce with skills in communication, facilitation, empathy, self-awareness, emotional regulation, time and task management, session planning, observation and reporting, decision making, and goal setting. Some graduates from the Leadership Academy go on to work for Kolkata Sanved where they receive additional mentorship and training in trauma-informed care, participant evaluation, program reporting, and group therapy techniques. Others go on to alternative lines of work where these skills are transferrable. These fields include, but are not limited to: the health sector, government schemes, business, and other humanitarian services.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

Program participants garner skills in self-awareness as a tool for self-improvement, mindfulness, non-judgment and nonjudgmental critique, communication and persuasion, crisis management, anger management, emotional regulation, trauma-informed care, empathy, and cultural sensitivity. Progress of participants is observed and measured by practitioners through session reports. Kolkata Sanved has adapted the Group Climate Questionnaire, the most standard tool internationally for group psychotherapy research, to create the Group DMT Scale, which is tailored to measure intended Sampoornata outcomes.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Local organizations working in mental health, gender equity, and art-based interventions include Anjali, Iswar Sankalpa, Bapu Trust, CREA, SWAYAM, Breakthrough, Manjil, Khula Aasman, Protsahan, Art Sphere, and Creative Movement Therapy Association. Kolkata Sanved’s development model is unique in that it fuses theory on trauma-informed care and gender oppression with an expressive therapeutic intervention which addresses mental wellness and social integration, plus provides participants with a path toward employability and independence as trained DMT practitioners.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Kolkata Sanved has served over 65,000 survivors of violence, using Dance Movement Therapy as a tool for rehabilitation and empowerment. Over 12 years, Kolkata Sanved has trained 102 community-based DMT professionals across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, 27 of whom are actively working in the field. In the district of Cooch Behar in West Bengal, survivors have founded and are leading a DMT unit. Additionally, Kolkata Sanved collaborates with 60 civil society organizations for the replication of Sampoornata across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, the UK and USA. As a result, over 100,000 individuals have connected with the transformative power of DMT through events, workshops, and campaigns. Finally, by collaborating with CLL-TISS to create to create the DMT Diploma program, Kolkata Sanved has built academic credibility in for DMT and established DMT as an emerging profession.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Kolkata Sanved has a broad profile of funding sources including: national and international institutional grant-makers, individual donors, corporate donors, volunteers, DMT diploma enrollment, and in-kind technical support. This year, the organization plans to sustain programming and diversify resources by: strategically seeking contributions from national sources including high net-worth individuals and corporations with codified CSR initiatives; “marketing” its services to hospitals and organizations that have the means to fully or partially fund/compensate Kolkata Sanved; expanding its profile of institutional and corporate giving by offering DMT workshops to groups as one-time or sequenced personal/professional development experiences.

10. Team

Kolkata Sanved has 7 board members and 34 employees (22 full time; 12 consultants), including practitioners, administrators, and consultants. DMT practitioners are required to have completed DMT training, while administrative staff are required to possess robust professional experience. As Kolkata Sanved expands, it will continue to assess employee titles and leadership structure to ensure that all employees are developed in a manner that serves both the individual and the organization.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
View more

Attachments (3)

Extended Application_Future Skills Innovation Challenge_Kolkata Sanved.pdf

This document describes more detailed responses to the application questions about the idea and innovation on Future Skills Innovation Challenge.

Kolkata Sanved New Brochure.pdf

This document describe about the organisation


Join the conversation: