April 16th, 2023
University of North Carolina (Rams Gym Multipurpose Room)
340 Ridge Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. (The studio is near the Ram's Head Parking Deck, approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the hospitals.)
TIME:4:30-6:30 pm ET

The Waiting Room: Using Indian Classical Dance to Explore Dramatic Role-Playing as a Teaching Tool for Cognitive Flexibility

This workshop is part of the 2023 GHHS Well-being Workshop Series, a yearlong series hosted by the Gold Humanism Honor Society designed to address different dimensions of well-being through a mix of interactive in-person and virtual sessions facilitated by thoughtful leaders across the United States. Sign up separately for each workshop you plan to attend.

Shilpa Darivemula, in partnership with the Aseemkala Initiative, utilizes Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam — a traditional Indian dance and its nine dramatized emotions, hand gestures, and footwork — to innovatively introduce cognitive flexibility in clinical training. This workshop provides an immersive experience for all clinical staff and staff-in-training to understand their patients and themselves through telling stories with their bodies.

Wellness is more than just avoiding burnout; it is a dynamic process, requiring attention to one’s emotions, physical presence, environment, and responding accordingly. Recent evidence indicates that one factor contributing to clinical wellness is cognitive flexibility, which is defined as being able to hold multiple views or to reframe a thought, situation, or perspective. Greater cognitive flexibility is associated with higher resilience to negative life events and stress in adulthood and higher levels of creativity—two outcomes that further enhance the dynamic process of maintaining wellbeing.


  1. Describe the concept of cognitive flexibility and its relationship to wellness training in clinical settings by describing its role specifically in the waiting room.
  2. Understand how the body, its movements, and the emotional mind all play a role in impacting cognitive flexibility and how changes in any of the three factors can improve awareness and flexibility.
  3. Apply the use of cultural performative arts as a technique to practice embodied cognitive flexibility.
  4. Incorporate this technique to improve interpersonal communication between diverse patients, peers, and supervisors.

Download a PDF flyer to share with your community. 

Workshop Host

Shilpa Darivemula, MD, MS is a General Research Fellow in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina and Creative Director of the Aseemkala Initiative. Shilpa began training in Kuchipudi at the age of 8 at the Academy of Kuchipudi Dance and performed her solo debut recital—her Rangapravesham—in 2011 at the Kalanidhi Dance school. Shilpa served as AMWA National Artist-in-Residence in 2016, studied traditional dance as women’s medicine as a Thomas Watson Fellow in 2013, and studied art as a vehicle to teach cervical cancer as a ASTMH Kean Fellow in 2018. Her articles have been published in the AMA Journal of Ethics, Empiric Bioethics, BMJ Blogs, and in-House. She continues to perform medical narratives, conduct research, run workshops exploring cultural humility and justice in healthcare through her work with the Aseemkala Initiative.

Directions: University of North Carolina (Rams Gym Multipurpose Room)
340 Ridge Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27599. (The studio is near the Rams Head Parking Deck, approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the hospitals.)

Registration is now closed.