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Graduate Fellows

2019 Cohort

Lisa Decenteceo
PhD Program in Ethnomusicology

Lisa began as a piano student. In 2010, she earned a diploma in Music Education, and in 2012, a bachelor’s degree in musicology at the University of the Philippines. Presently, she is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her research interests include affect theory in ethnomusicological studies, the various iterations of the “folk” in American music from the 30s to the 70s, and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. For her dissertation, she writes about the plural and conflicting expressions of indigeneity as examined in staged musical performances of indigenous expressive traditions and their surrounding socio-cultural and historical contexts. Lisa has taught courses on Philippine music and has worked as a teaching assistant for courses on Euro-American art music and U.S. popular music. She is a Fulbright scholar, and a recipient of the Glenn McGeoch Teaching Award and the Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award.


Photo Credit: Cy Abdelnour

Evan Haywood
MSI Program, School of Information

Evan Haywood is a musician and multimedia artist from Ann Arbor, MI. As a Master's student at the University of Michigan School of Information, he is interested in developing innovative research methods which incorporate socially progressive ideas from the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, documentary filmmaking, and cultural heritage preservation. His dream is to build a highly accessible internet archive of performing arts content from around the world, to bring connectivity and communication between distant populations.

For his Certificate in World Performance Studies, Evan will be conducting fieldwork for a research project in Jamaica. He will be meeting with elders in the Rastafarian and Maroon communities, recording video footage to preserve ritual performances and oral narratives, with a focus on anticolonial perspectives in Jamaican history. This material will be supplemented by a visit to the official Jamaica Records and Archives Department, which houses documents regarding these subjects dating back to the 1700's. At the conclusion of his fieldwork, Evan is planning to edit the footage he has collected into an ethnographic archival documentary film.


Sherry Lin
MFA Program in Dance

Sherry Lin is a graduate student at the University of Michigan pursuing an MFA in Dance. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a certified registered dietitian. She performed for several years with Chicago-based companies Hip Hop ConnXion Dance Company and Chicago Urban Dance Collective. Sherry has received scholarships and recognition for her work at the Word In Motion Urban Dance Festival in Los Angeles, Establish Your Empire Dance Showcase in Chicago, Dance Revolution Convention in North Carolina, and Project Dance Costa Rica. Combining both of her passions in dance and nutrition, she is interested in studying performance activism through dance and culinary arts forms. For her summer research, she will be going to Los Angeles, California and various cities in Taiwan to study and compare street dance culture between the U.S. and Taiwan. Furthermore, she will engage in ethnographic research among Taiwanese Indigenous communities.

Marjoris Regus
PhD Program in Music Education

Marjoris Regus is a doctoral student in Music Education. Prior to the University of Michigan,Marjoris received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education and Master of Music, SaxophonePerformance from The University of Utah. Following her Master of Music degree, Marjoris taught high school band, jazz, orchestra, choir, piano, music appreciation, and AP music theory in Salt Lake City, Utah for four years. As a graduate student, Marjoris has found interest in secondary instrumental methods, hip hop pedagogy, vernacular musicianship, and informal learning. This summer, Marjoris will be conducting research focusing on everyday performances and the diverse identities of hip hop artists in Japan, Germany, and England.

Jean Carlo Ureña Gonzalez
MM Program in Percussion Performance

Jean Carlo previously studied at the University of Hartford and National Conservatory of Music of Santo Domingo. He is currently the Graduate Student Instructor for the World Percussion Ensemble at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. His Center for World Performance Studies research is centered around the diasporic lineage between the rhythms of folkloric music of the Dominican Republic and west and central Africa.

Mario Vircha
MFA Program in Dance

Mario Vircha is a Masters of Fine Arts candidate in the Department of Dance at the University of Michigan. He also has an MA in Dance of the National University of Costa Rica and was a formal member of the National Dance Company of Costa Rica from 2010-2018 where he served as assistant director, choreographer, and Professor of Contemporary Technique. Vircha has been resident artist in the departments of Modern Dance of the University of Utah and University of Georgia, and has been a guest choreographer and performer in CORE Concert Dance Company annual season performances, held in Athens-USA from 2008 to 2011 and 2016.  He was invited as a guest artist by the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies of the University of Michigan in 2016. His works have been part of the repertoire of the National Dance Company and Dance Company Chamber Danza UNA, CR. He has toured as a dancer and teacher at festivals of dance in the US, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Spain. Mario directs his own Choreographic project Mario VirchaDanza since 2011. Vircha’s MFA research focuses on emigrant artists and investigate what happens when a culture disperses as a result of political crisis.

2018 Graduate Fellows

Photo Credit Lydia Bittner

Megan Bascom
MFA Program in Dance

Megan Bascom is the Artistic Director of Megan Bascom & Dancers (MB&D), an NYC-based company, whose work is highly collaborative and relationship driven, involving memory, intimate interaction, and an overall commitment to expansive motion that expresses physical potential. Megan's MFA research focuses on kinesthetic empathy, awareness, and perception -- using physical expression to share, create and find common ground as a means of more fully understanding how we can relate to one another in this world, despite our differences. She has had work produced by Triskelion Arts, Gowanus Arts + Production, Center for Performance Research, Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and Dixon Place. As a dance educator, Megan has taught most recently at The Dance Complex, Le Danse Cité (Morocco), Dance Exchange, Barnard College, 100 Grand Dance, and as faculty at Gibney Dance Center. Read more about Megan's research here.

El Chen
MSW Program in Social Work

El Chen is an artist, musician, and performer from Shanghai, China. Since 2014, she has been facilitating theater and music workshops with incarcerated populations and refugee youths in Michigan. Currently a Master of Social Work student, El focuses her research on the role of performance in facilitating inter- and intra-community relations. Read more about El's research here.

Lenard Foust
MFA Program in Dance

Lenard J Foust, an MFA candidate in dance, holds a BSED in Dance Education from Central Connecticut State University. Lenard has recently toured as a dancer with the Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience performing since June 1st, 2016. Throughout the time of his undergraduate college career, he has worked with Elisa Monte Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/ The works and the Albano Ballet Dance Company. Lenard understands the importance of community engagement on and off the college campuses, and the necessity for widening the ground base in dance including audience building, teaching dance to children and working with diverse populations. This is evidenced in his teaching in varied venues such as private studios, community centers and public schools. Lenard is currently studying popular commercial dance styles, street jazz and jazz funk. He is also studying contemporary modern techniques, as well as improvisation and composition. Lenard would like to continue pursuing training to solidify his artistry. Read more about LJ's research here.

Kelly Hirina
MFA Program in Dance

Kelly Hirina recently returned to U-M after living and dancing professionally in the Netherlands for the past 17 years. She is currently attaining her MFA in Dance and is focused on the study of Fascia & Flow within the dance method Double Skin/ Double Mind, created by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, with whom she has worked. Within CWPS, Kelly hopes to look deeper into artistic practices that use oral tradition of transmission, as it is similar to her experience in DS/DM. Her interest lies in the memory body and its relationship to transferring dance material, rather than the current dependence upon modern recording devices, which she believes are not as detailed as the body that performs dance. Read more about Kelly's research here.

Masimba Hwati
MFA Program in Art & Design

Masimba Hwati is an experimental mixed media artist with 10 years teaching experience at Harare Polytechnic in Harare, Zimbabwe and 14 years of independent studio practice. Has facilitated several local and international workshops and projects in Southern Africa , Canada, France and the US. His work explores the transformation of indigenous knowledge systems and cultural resistance. He juxtaposes cultural objects and symbols with trivia and ephemeral mainstream symbols, employing found objects, performance and histories. His research has grown around explorations of postcolonial themes by re-appropriating objects and presenting them in new contexts. Hwati collects ideas and moments, altering and repositioning them in a contemporary setting.  He holds a Certificate in Building on Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Community resilience from The Coady Institute, St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish. He is an honorary research fellow at Rhodes University Inn Grahamstown South Africa, and he is currently pursuing an MFA at the Stamps School of Art and Design University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Read more about Masimba's research here.

Traci Lombre
PhD Program in American Culture

Traci Lombre is a Ph.D. student in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, with a research focus on late 19th/early 20th century African American cultural history in the Midwest, the Harlem Renaissance, and the culture and history of the Kansas City jazz tradition. Traci has extensive experience in area studies, having worked at the U-M's African Studies Center from 2015-2017, after 11 years in graduate student affairs at the University of Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. In 2005, Traci was the recipient of the Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies, awarded by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington, D.C., for travel to study the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She obtained her Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago in 2004, having focused on globalization, Arab foreign investment, and Arab migration.  Traci holds A.B. degrees in Economics and Sociology from Smith College. Read more about Traci's research here.

Rebecca Selin
MA Program in Southeast Asian Studies

Rebecca Selin is a first year master's student in Southeast Asian Studies. Before coming to the University of Michigan, Rebecca studied Javanese gamelan and West Sumatran music as a student at Oberlin College and rehearsed with Lampung regional music student groups as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bandar Lampung, Indonesia. Rebecca is interested in exploring the impact of new and emerging online media on the performance of identity in Indonesia and its diaspora as a CWPS fellow. Read more about Rebeccas's research here.

Jeffrey Siegfried
DMA in Saxophone Performance

Jeffrey Siegfried is a saxophonist in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, studying performative heterophony. His CWPS project included research at the Yiddish Summer Weimar and Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt. Read more about Jeffrey's research here.

Kaleigh Wilder
MM Program in Improvisation

Kaleigh Wilder is a baritone saxophonist working towards a Masters in Improvisation in the department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation. She will conduct research this summer in Ghana, exploring different performance practices and traditions as they relate specifically to music, but also dance, through studying West African hand drumming. She hopes to experience and understand the essential roles music plays in West African culture, including how gender is negotiated and performed in performance practices. Read more about Kaleigh's research here.

Xiaoxi Zhang
PhD Program in Comparative Literature

Xiaoxi Zhang is a PhD student in Comparative Literature interested in Critical Translation Studies, Cultural Studies and comparative studies of literature and cultures from non-Western spaces. Zhang is also interested in exploring the performative aspects of different genres of writings, including academic essays, and seeks to incorporate the performative elements of the materials she studies into her own research and writings. Read more about Xiaoxi's research here.

2017 Graduate Fellows

Kiran Bhumber
MA Program in Media Arts

Kiran Bhumber is a media artist, composer, musician and educator from Vancouver, Canada. Her work examines emotions and memory through the physical nature of sound. Kiran constructs interactive installations and performance systems; allowing performers and audiences to embody these themes through multimodal states of awareness. As a CWPS Graduate Fellow, Kiran conducted research for the development of “ The Electronic Shawl” or “E-Shawl”, a wearable electronic textile that aims to envelop South Asian cultural identity, tradition, andmemory within the present digital realm.

AJ Covey
MM Programs in Percussion Performance and Chamber Music

As a CWPS Graduate Fellow, AJ Covey traveled to Karnataka, India and Bali, Indonesia to conduct preliminary research in musical pedagogy of non Western cultures. AJ’s research interests include the exploration of Eastern music pedagogy methods and ideas to help music teachers in the US cultivate a connection between musical study and self identity, love, life, culture, humanity, and Earth.

Laura-Ann Jacobs
PhD Program in Educational Studies

Laura-Ann Jacobs is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. She explores how performance and expression can be integral parts of learning. The focus of her CWPS Graduate Fellow project is learning how local Hawaiians perform their local Hawaiian identities, and investigating how these performances of local Hawaiian identities counter, challenge, and disrupt the destination image of Hawaiian native culture.

Ruby MacDougall
PhD Program in Asian Languages & Cultures

Ruby MacDougall is a professional ballet and contemporary dancer with an MA in Chinese studies from the University of Hawaii, and almost a decade of experience engaging in intercultural exchange with Chinese dancers. Her current research looks at how identity and culture are embodied or resisted through the corporeal performance of ethnic minority dance forms in China.

Read more about Ruby's research here.

Ellen Myers
MA Program in Southeast Asian Studies

Ellen Myers entered the Masters Program in Southeast Asian Studies after previously studying Indonesian dance, gamelan, and living in Indonesia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. As a CWPS Graduate Fellow, she is exploring the ways in which Facebook contributes to new and imagined spaces of freedom or confinement for young Indonesians.

Sydney Shiff
MFA Program in Dance

Classically trained dancer and choreographer Sydney Schiff began rigorously studying and practicing Brazilian Zouk in 2016. During her CWPS summer research, she will conduct preliminary ethnographic field study of international influences on Brazilian Zouk dance movement and culture in Canada and Europe.

Read more about Sydney's research here.

Adam Shead
MM Program in Improvisation

Adam Shead is an American Improviser, Percussionist, Composer, and Electronicist specializing in improvised and interdisciplinary performance. Adam has performed at renowned venues domestically and internationally such as The Jazz Showcase, Experimental Sound Studio, The Whistler, Bimhuis, and De Ruimte as well as performing at such festivals as The Present is Present in Amsterdam and The Chicago Jazz Festival. Adam has had the pleasure of performing with such musicians as Mary Oliver (ICP Orchestra), John Dikeman (William Parker, Joe McPhee), Jasper Stadhouders (Ken Vandermark, Andy Moor), and Ed Sarath; and is the founder of such groups as Dod Kalm, Adam Shead Octet, and The Adam Shead String Quartet. His current research looks at the way in which improvisational communities function and inform their meta-community from a Performance Studies perspective.

Read more about Adam's research here.

Fabiola Torralba
MFA Program in Dance

Fabiola Torralba is a choreographer, educator, and activist that is dedicated to the transformation and empowerment of our communities.  With deep commitment of the power of story and the power of people coming together, she facilitates opportunities for movers of all backgrounds to create and engage in issues that affect their every day lives. Fabiola's current research focuses on Afro-Mestizo and Black (im)migrant identities in the southern coastal region of Mexico.

Alyssa Wells
PhD Program in Musicology

Alyssa Wells is a musicology PhD student whose primary research focuses on socialist realism in the German Democratic Republic. As a CWPS Graduate Fellow, she is also researching the performance and rehearsal practices of drum and bugle corps in Netherlands and Japan, seeking illuminate how members of the groups Jubal and the Indigoes understand their relationship to their drum corps and its members, the community in which they are based, and the drum corps community as it is conceived globally. 

Read more about Alyssa's research here.