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Alumni Cohort Notes

DMA in Bass Performance, 2011
Phillip Alejo currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Arizona, where he has led the double bass studio since 2013. Some professional highlights include: joining the Bay View Music Festival (MI) as artist faculty (2016-current), completing a four-university residency in Mexico in (November 2019), and releasing a first studio album on Furious Artisans with River Town Duo (January 2021). Visit:

PhD in Anthropology, 2008
Yolanda Covington-Ward is an Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She researches how the body and embodiment impacts and is impacted by politics, identity, religion, and migration. Her first book Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo (Duke University Press) examined these issues.

Photo Credit: L. A. Cicero

PhD in Near Eastern Studies/Middle East Studies, 2010
Özgen Felek teaches Ottoman Turkish and Ottoman paleography at Yale University. Felek’s research is on Ottoman culture, literature, and mysticism. Her CWPS research was on dream-telling and dream-interpreting as a performance in the early modern Ottoman literature, conducted in the manuscript libraries in Turkey in the summers of 2006 and 2007.

PhD in Germanic Languages & Literatures, 2013
Sara Jackson is an assistant professor of German studies at UMass, Amherst. Her first book, The Problem of the Actress in Modern German Theater and Thought (Camden House 2021), draws extensively on archival research conducted in Berlin, Germany, which she first began with support from CWPS.

PhD in Social Work and Psychology, 2010
Dana Levin is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, University of Windsor. Dr. Levin has over 10 years experience working with community organizations, including agencies supporting individuals living with disabilities, HIV/AIDS service organizations, and youth programs. Her experiences include case management, health education, program evaluation, and using theatre as a tool to teach and explore social justice issues. During the CWPS Graduate Residency, she researched gender performance in Israel.

2020 print for a portfolio for the People's Paper Coop.

MFA in Art & Design, 2008
Nicole Marroquin is an artist and teacher educator at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research looks at belonging and spatial justice in Chicago's Latinx communities, which includes research on the student uprisings in Chicago Public Schools between 1967-1980. Marroquin’s aim is to recuperate histories of youth and women’s leadership in the struggle for justice, and to work with young people to engage primary sources and problematize single-source narratives of history.


MM in Jazz & Improvisation, 2009
Ingrid Racine is a freelance musician, composer and educator, and is currently the Program Coordinator for Center for World Performance Studies. Her CWPS research looked at cross-cultural encounters in improvised music, including research in Bamako, Mali and Mysore, India. Find her current work at

PhD in Ethnomusicology, 2007
Mike Rahfaldt is the Executive Director of Children’s Radio Foundation, where he oversees the international operations from Cape Town, South Africa. Before joining the Children’s Radio Foundation in 2006, Michal taught media and anthropology at the University of Cape Town. As a journalist, he has contributed to Public Radio International, BBC World Service, NPR, and the New York Times.

PhD in Near Eastern Studies, 2008
Kristina Richardson is an associate professor of history, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, having served on faculty since 2008. Her CWPS research focused on enslaved women entertainers in medieval Baghdad and Cairo. Richardson currently researches Romani groups in medieval Afro-Eurasia. More information on her current work can be found here.

PhD in American Culture, 2012
Lani Teves is an Associate Professor in Women’s Studies at University of Hawaiʻi. She has written about Hawaiian hip-hop, film, and sexuality in the Pacific. She specializes in theorizing alternate forms of Kanaka Maoli gender performance and recognition politics. Her approach is informed by Indigenous feminist methodologies and ʻŌiwi epistemologies. Teves is the author of Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance (UNC Press 2018).

Kiran Bhumber

MA in Media Arts, 2018
Kiran Bhumber is a media artist, composer, musician and educator based in Vancouver, Canada. Bhumber is currently working on a solo trans-media gallery exhibition called UNION, a speculative sci-fi narrative about two beings discovering their ancestral memories through the longing for touch and the rituals practiced in their post-apocalyptic wedding ceremony. This exhibition is co-presented by Cinevolution Media Arts Society and Richmond Art Gallery and will run at Richmond Art Gallery in British Columbia, Canada from April 23 - June 5 2021.

Lenard Foust

MFA in Dance, 2019
Lenard J. Foust is the newly appointed Assistant Professor of Dance at Alabama State University. Foust was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in China in 2019, where he investigated the history and globalization of street/hip hop/pop culture (African Diaspora). In addition to his hard work at ASU, Foust is pursuing the Leadership and Policy Specialization as a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University.

MFA in Art, 2019
Masimba Hwati is a multidisciplinary artist working in the intersections of sculpture video performance and sound. Hwati explores the transformation and evolution of knowledge systems that are indigenous to his own background whilst experimenting with the symbolism and perceptions attached to cultural objects, expressed as an art movement known as "The Energy of Objects". His work has been shown in Germany, France, Canada, London, the US, Australia, and Southern Africa. In 2015, he represented Zimbabwe at the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale in Italy. He recently published a book based on his solo exhibition "Sokunge/As if." 

Photo Credit: Dan Yamamoto

MFA in Dance, 2018
After completing her MFA, Sydney Schiff traveled full time for two years teaching, performing, and continuing the research she started at CWPS, in which she conducted exploratory ethnographic research on Brazilian Zouk social dancing in North America, Europe, and Brazil. In March 2020, Schiff started an online social dance school for students training solo and at home around the world. She also directs a contemporary dance performance team as part of Evolución Latina Dance Company, a Chicago-based Latin dance school. Throughout the pandemic, Schiff has been training intensively and am excited to pursue a new chapter of my career as a dancer, choreographer, dance educator, and scholar when it is once again safe to social dance and travel.

PhD in Musicology
Alyssa Wells is currently completing her dissertation research about the ways that masculinity, militarism, and whiteness influence the responses of audiences and the behavior of marching band members. Focusing primarily on morally transgressive behaviors and activities, the first two case studies include a historical exploration of Nazi marching bands in Chicago during the 1940s and an ethnography of current and former drum corps members who participated in Drum Corps International. Her third case study will be an ethnography of street marching bands in Detroit that explores how they intentionally subvert the aforementioned behaviors.

Kaleigh Wilder in Cape Coast, Ghana.

MM in Improvisation, 2019
Kaleigh Wilder is currently the Program Assistant Director for a Detroit nonprofit called Young People Travel Global Edge, which gives Detroit youth ages 12-18 the opportunity to travel abroad. Wilder is also a freelance musician in Detroit playing free improvised music. Kaleigh’s CWPS research was on gender disparities in drumming in Ghana and how that relates to gender in jazz and improvised music, as a music of the African diaspora.