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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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.