PhD in Educational Studies
Gabrielle Elizabeth Bernal is a former special education teacher, currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Studies with a focus on teaching and teacher education at the School of Education. Her research interests center on teacher education, mathematics education, teachers' and students' mathematical multimodal discourse, and embodied experiences. Her work is rooted in performance in formal and informal math learning spaces in the community, at home, and within schools.
PhD in Higher Education
Yvonne Garcia is a third year PhD student at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) with a focus on Academic Affairs and Student Development. She is interested in how knowledge systems are and become racialized and the role of higher education systems in maintaining racialization. Through decolonization of scholarship she hopes to deconstruct current metrics and standards that diminish, devalue, and distort cultural and racial ways of knowing. Yvonne enjoys writing stories about her family and poetry about love of food, self, friendship, family, and romantic love.
Masters in International and Regional Studies
Zhiwen Gong is a first year masters student of International and Regional Studies. She previously received a Master's degree from Ritsumeikan University in Japan in culture dynamic studies. Her research interest is the relationship between gender policy and the establishment of performance genres, focusing on the formation of the girls' song and dance troupes in Japan and China in the 1920s-1930s, especially Japanese the Takarazuka Revue and Chinese the Bright Moon Ensemble.
PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures
Yucong Hao is a doctoral candidate in Asian Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on sound studies, intermediality, international modernism, and Chinese socialist culture and literature. At CWPS, she hopes to explore how auditory aesthetics constitutes a critical component of the larger framework of performance. She is also a co-founder of the Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop series of "Understanding Media in Chinese Studies."
MFA in Dance
J’Sun Howard (he/him) is a dancemaker and poet currently pursuing his MFA in Dance at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. His choreographic and research interests include: Black Fugitivity and spatial politics, the practice of freedom, and architectural imagination, Japanese culture and Noh Theatre.
MM in Improvisation
Alex Lepanto is a drummer from Montreal Canada, currently pursuing a Masters of Music in Improvisation at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. His work aims to dive deep into the history of the drums to explore rhythm and percussion as a social and spiritual practice across cultures, as well as its relation to improvised music performance.
MFA in Dance
Marsae Mitchell (she/her) is an interdisciplinary performance artist, writer and educator specializing in dance and theater, currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Music Theater and Dance. Her artistic research interests include: African diasporic art history, the effects of location and climate on performance artists of the African diaspora and the mersion of concert and commercial dance.
PhD in German Languages and Literature
Rhiannon Muncaster (she/hers) is a lifelong German hip-hop enthusiast and polyglot working on her PhD in the German Languages and Literature program. Her research focuses on (self-)representations of Iranian-Germans and performances of gender (masculinity) and the “Oriental” Other in German rap. Rhiannon is additionally interested in Orientalism, multicultural identity construction, ethnomusicology, and horror.
PhD in Cultural Anthropology
Leela Riesz is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology. Her current research asks what new articulations of Blackness are possible when Afrodescendientes (people of African descent) engage in an evolving Black-consciousness movement in Spain where anti-Blackness is longstanding yet characterized as merely an outcome of recent immigration. She is interested in how consciousness is both a personal and public project that asks Spanish audiences to confront the omnipresence of anti-Blackness in Spain and the conflation of Blackness and foreignness. Through her research, she seeks to provide an ethnographic account of the labor conducted by activists, namely their intellectual, cross-cultural, and historical modes of thinking and collaboration.
PhD in History of Art
Soyoon (she/her) is a writer and visual artist currently pursuing her PhD in History of Art. Her interests include modern and contemporary Asian art, decolonial thought, ecocriticism, performance studies, and the issue of form in socially-engaged and participatory practices.
Julianna Loera Wiggins
PhD in American Culture
Julianna Loera Wiggins (she/her) is a Doctoral Student in the Department of American Culture. Her research interests include: formations of Latina/Chicana identities, oral history and testimonio, social activism, and Latina/o/x Performance Studies.
Specialist in Music
Samantha Williams is a classically trained crossover artist who is committed to storytelling in various genres. Currently earning her Specialist in Music in Voice Performance, Sam is obsessed with art that inspires change and with sharing marginalized experiences with diverse audiences. She has researched performative race in the performing arts, specifically performative blackness in European opera. Her interests have culminated in her CWPS project, a theatrical song-cycle examining Patriotism from different American perspective.
2020 Graduate Fellows
MM Program in Orchestral Conducting
Leonard Bopp (he/him) is a conductor, composer, and collaborator currently pursuing his masters degree in Orchestral Conducting at the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. His musical and research interests include: queer studies and LGBT history, performance studies, postcolonial theory and "world music" debates, ecocrticism, archives, and sound studies.
MM Program in Improvisation
Meg Brennan is a flutist and saxophonist who is currently pursuing her Masters in Improvisation in the department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation. She has had the opportunity to play with famous jazz artists like Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Peter Bernstein, Jimmy Cobb, Ingrid Jensen, and Anat Cohen. Meg is interested in studying Carnatic music of Mysore, India, specifically the traditional methods of oral transmission and the melodic/rhythmic/improvisational elements of the raga as it relates to her own practice as a musician and educator. With a strong belief that improvisation plays a key role in the development of all creative artists, Meg's research will contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding various teaching methodologies.
MM Program in Music Composition
Alfredo Cabrera is an accomplished composer, pianist, and violinist from Caracas, Venezuela. He has won multiple awards including 1st Place in the Lynn University Composition Competition and the Marshall Turkin Honors Award (2018-2019). Alfredo’s work is defined by his passion for Latin American music, classical music, political involvement, and social activism. He is an advocate and researcher of Venezuelan culture which he shares through his musical works. Alfredo is a student of Dr. Kristin Kuster at the University of Michigan where he is currently pursuing a Masters degree in composition and a certificate in performance studies.
Angela Schöpke Gonzalez
PhD Program in Information
Angela M. Schöpke Gonzalez is a dance theater artist, writer, curator, educator, and data analyst currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Michigan School of Information. Angela's work draws inspiration from deep investigations of history, civic engagement, policy perspectives, and emotional narrative, and is committed to making spaces for people to engage in dialogue about cultural identity questions.
PhD Program in English Language & Literature
Rebecca Hixon holds a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Knox College, where she first became interested in early modern drama, specifically Shakespeare. As a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, her research has centered on contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare plays, specifically those that evoke sometimes tense discussions concerning race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. In her dissertation she considers how adaptations and appropriations represent, respond to, or change some of the more problematic content of these plays and the effect this has on the stories themselves. She examines live and filmed stage performances alongside films, novels, and graphic representations in order to explore the way we conceive of, recognize, and disseminate Shakespeare today, as teachers, readers, consumers, audiences, and scholars.
PhD Program in Educational Studies
Mimi Owusu is pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies with a concentration in teaching and teacher education. For the past eight years, Mimi worked as an elementary school teacher, instructional coach, and teacher educator in Newark, NJ. A proud Ghanaian, Bronx native, she grew up experiencing the artistic beauty and genius of the Black diaspora. Her project seeks to capture this energy by using dance as a mechanism for sharing and understanding the experiences and perspectives of Black girls throughout the diaspora. This work is especially poignant given the marginalization that Black girls experience in schools. Her hope is that her experience travelling throughout the diaspora, specifically Ghana, Jamaica, New York, and Newark unveil stories about Black girls that help everyone, but especially educators, to see Black girls in all of their glory.
Masters Program in Percussion Performance & Chamber Music
Hohner Porter is a graduate student at the University of Michigan pursuing degrees in Percussion Performance and Chamber Music. Hohner has traveled to Trinidad and Tobago where he was a participant of the Youth Music Exchange, presenting masterclasses over Samba Reggae from Brazil as well as performing with the Pulse Percussion Ensemble in outreach concerts in local primary schools. In 2019, Hohner traveled to Ghana to study West African drumming through the Dagara Music Center. Hohner has been a member of numerous chamber ensembles including UTM Choro Ensemble, UTM Steelband, Vencedores, UTM Contemporary Music Group, World Percussion Ensemble, and other various large ensembles.
PhD Program in Political Science
MaryEllen is a doctoral student in the PhD program in Political Science within the subfield of Political Theory. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Management from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Northeastern Illinois University, and she worked as a professional Stage Manager in Chicago for ten years. MaryEllen’s research interests revolve around the intersection of culture and politics as well as feminist theory, and she is particularly interested in theatre’s capacity to foster community and challenge ways of being together in society.
Imani Ma'at Taylor
MFA Program in Dance
Imani Ma'at AnkhmenRa Amen is a visionary, artist, dancer, choreographer, and photographer from Norfolk, VA. She has been trained in multiple dance styles including improvisation, experimental, hip-hop, modern, contemporary, and traditional West-African dance practices. Her primary focus is the study of traditional West-African dance and the various traditional rhythms know to this dynamic and complex dance genre. Through a combination of these dance practices, she produces many works with the intention of developing safe spaces while unifying the community and helping others develop higher consciousness through the performing and visual arts. Currently, Imani is working on obtaining her MFA in dance/choreography from the University of Michigan.
2019 Graduate Fellows
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.