Activism / Sovereign Collective
“The Sovereign Collective” is a movement arts and social action collective founded by Donna Mejia. Collectively, members have pledged to elevate social consciousness toward a reverent connection to the human body. This project began as an effort to mobilize concerned citizens around an issue that can seem too large for an individual to take on: sovereignty of the human body. The collective was founded in Northampton, Massachusetts, and now operates as a collaborative network of individuals across the country.
Transgressions against physical self-determination manifest across international, cultural, religious, political and economic lines in a multitude of practices: genital mutilation; legally sanctioned infantile marriages; elder abuse; sexual servitude; censorship of sexual information; slavery; honor killings; media-influenced distortions of body-image; domestic violence; military torture; inaccessibility to affordable healthcare; forced medical intervention or end of life management; etc.
Rather than perceive the body as an obstacle to spiritual or intellectual progress, a tool to be mastered and punitively controlled, or an instrument of abusive escapism, collective members of Sovereign hope to inspire society to realize the body as an inherently intelligent life companion worthy of honor, attentiveness, and engagement.
To this end, the actions of the Sovereign Collective include education, outreach, and advocacy. As artists/dancers, we aim for our performances to be thematically relevant and artistically striking in order to generate interest in our subject matter. As dance and movement instructors, we are dedicated to providing safe, supportive, and accessible spaces for community members of all socio-economic backgrounds and experiences to develop personal somatic intelligence and healthy body-mind associations. All collective members are trained in a cross-disciplinary movement studies approach and curriculum galvanized by Donna Mejia that effectively renders visible participants’ social programs, defenses, and defaults. Free/low-fee workshops are available to groups such as victims of domestic violence, the financially disadvantaged, the differently-abled, recovering trauma victims, and any group lacking access to therapeutic movement arts.
The Sovereign Collective supports the efforts of organizations and artists working toward similar goals through fundraising and networking. We hope to use our visibility to bring attention to and connect those already working for social change while setting new standards for body-mind awareness.
Joanna Ashleigh has been devoted to belly dance since she took her first class in the mid 2000’s. She has since performed all over Colorado as well as at many national festivals. She loves performing American Tribal Style® belly dance, fusion solos, and working on collaborations. As one of the first fully Certified 8 Elements Datura Style Teachers, Joanna offers weekly classes in Denver, Colorado. She is currently working on her undergraduate degree in dance at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She will be forever grateful to her three main teachers, Lia Ridley, Molly McClellan, and Rachel Brice; all of whom shaped her defining concepts of womanhood, dedication, and kindness. She also wishes to give gratitude to her mentor and dear friend Lisa Goodrich. JoannaAshleigh.com