Gloria Sitsope Ahlijah
MFA in Dance
Gloria Ahlijah is a dancer and choreographer from Ghana, West Africa and concurrently pursuing a Master’s in Fine Arts degree in Dance. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Ghana, School of Performing Arts where she trained in West African Traditional Dance, African Contemporary dance, Kizomba and Afrobeat. Her interest is to explore the evolution and assimilation of African dance in the Diaspora, and how these dances help Black Americans build connection and identity with Africa.
MFA Stamps Art & Design
Simranpreet Anand is an artist, curator, and cultural worker creating and working on the unceded territories of
the Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo peoples (Surrey, BC) and the lands of the Anishinaabeg – The Three Fire Confederacy of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations, as well as the Wyandot Nation (Ann Arbor, MI). She holds a BFA Honours in Visual Arts along with a second major in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. Her art practice interrogates the so-called neutral audience in multicultural society. To accomplish this, she uses materials —particularly textiles, language, performative gestures, and photographs —that resonate beyond the typical art gallery context. Anand’s works are meant for multiple audiences with different frames of cultural and/or artistic reference. Her practice is informed by familial and community histories, often engaging materials and concepts drawn from the histories of Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora and the ways in which they have been disrupted by colonialism and forced migration. The reclamation of cultural practice in her work interrogates colonial theft, cultural propaganda, and forces of global capitalism.
Xin Yi Chong
MM in Percussion Performance
Xin Yi Chong is a percussionist from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Percussion Performance and Chamber Music at the University of Michigan. As a CWPS Graduate Fellow, she is exploring the traditional Malay music of Malaysia through means of percussion with hopes to feel more connected to her home country and her heritage.
Sreyashi Dey is currently an MSW student at the University of Michigan's School of Social Work, specializing in the clinical pathway and training as a psychotherapist. She is a classical Indian dancer in the Odissi style, and previously in Bharatanatyam. She is the founder and artistic director of Akshara, an Ann Arbor based multi-arts organization that produces the annual Rasa Festival. Apart from several cities in the US, Sreyashi has performed in Europe, Asia and India. In addition to performing traditional classical dance, in her own work, she thoughtfully re-examines and re-interprets stories and characters in her choreographies through a lens of privilege, oppression and marginalization. Her work has been critically acclaimed, including the New York Times, as well as in media in India. Sreyashi is also the founder of Sparsh, an Ann Arbor non-profit that established and supported a pediatric heart surgery program at a community hospital in India for disadvantaged children, and works in the area of mental health. Sreyashi’s educational background includes a Master's degree in Economics and an MBA. Alongside her dance, she has had parallel careers in marketing, University of Michigan administration and non-profit.
Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies
Sunhong Kim is an ethnomusicologist and a multi-wind instrumentalist (piri/taepyeongso/danso/saenghwang). She is currently in a doctoral program at the Department of Musicology at U of M. Her research primarily centers gender hierarchy and power relations in court/folk music ensembles in South Korea. Her current interest has expanded to a sub-genre of popular music which combines with South Korean traditional music.
MM in Percussion Performance
James Koo is a vibrant performer and dedicated artist. He is the 2023 winner of the University of Michigan Concerto Competition and the Eugene Bossart Prize. In 2022 he took second place in the Black Swamp Multi Percussion Competition and was also awarded "Best Performance by an Asian composer at the Chicago International Music Festival in 2021. He is currently a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of Michigan SMTD pursuing his Masters in Percussion Performance. Prior to studying in the States, he studied traditional Chinese percussion for a decade under Yim Hok Man/閻學敏 where he specialized in the Pai gu/Chinese Tom-toms. His current research focuses on ensemble Taiko and drawing cross-cultural parallels between traditional Japanese and Chinese music.
MFA in Dance
Sreya Muthukumar is a multifaceted performing artist who believes in using art to spread joy and healing. A dancer, musician, and actor, Sreya began her dance training in Bharatanrityam at age 6. She is also trained in Odissi, Bollywood and hip-hop dance styles. As an instructor, she uses her unique blend of artistic experiences to provide holistic dance training. Sreya facilitates workshops that help people reconnect with their bodies through movement and meditation. A singer and songwriter, she was the lead vocalist of arena rock band Shorthand, and is currently working on her solo music project. Additionally, Sreya works as an actor, and has appeared in ads, short films, plays and a web series on Amazon Prime. She received a liberal arts education at Ashoka University, where she studied English Literature and Performing Arts. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Dance at the University of Michigan, where she hopes to synthesise her artistic experiences and make interdisciplinary work.
MM in Composition
Ancel ‘Fitz’ Neeley (b. 2000) is a composer, percussionist, improviser, producer, and videographer who has written a variety of solo, chamber, electronic, and multimedia works. Fitz's compositions blend text, visuals, and theatrics and often take inspiration from cinematography and screenwriting to create immersive environments for the audience. As a performer Fitz has been working on commissioning new multimedia works for solo percussion. Fitz is a student of Tabla drumming in which he studies improvisation and verbal/rote pedagogy.
MFA in Dance
Kara Roseborough is a multi-disciplinary artist specializing in dance, creative writing, and theatre. She is currently a Dance MFA Candidate, Graduate Student Instructor, and Rackham Merit Awardee at the University of Michigan. Previously, Kara was the Artistic Director, of the Evanston Dance Ensemble 2 (ede2). She is certified to teach Cecchetti Grades I-IV and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah. After graduating, she danced with Charleston City Ballet, The Ruth Page Civic Ballet of Chicago, South Chicago Dance Theatre, Studio5 and the New Dances Festival through Thodos Dance Chicago and DanceWorks Chicago. She has also performed with Pittsburgh Public Theatre and Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and has also written plays for Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s holiday series and its “Pop-Up Theatre” series. In 2020, Kara served on the founding committee of Dancers Amplified, and from 2020-2022, she was on staff with the educational equity program Books & Breakfast. She has presented choreography across the United States and most recently choreographed on the Dutch National Ballet. Her piece “Shadow and Echo” was featured in Dutch National Ballet’s Black Achievement Month celebration. Kara’s current research involves investigating the many intersections between dance and language through Black and African diasporic narratives as well as the decolonization of ballet culture and narratives.
MM in Improvisation
As a percussionist, composer, and improviser, Jonathan Barahal Taylor treasures the liminal feeling that intersects deafening silence and unrelenting noise. His drumming utilizes “carefully crafted chaos” [Midwest Action] and possesses “the rare ability to drive a band with constantly shifting rhythmic and melodic patterns … without ever overpowering the group” [Semja Review]. This sensibility informs his original projects and collaborative pursuits, which include the art rock band Saajtak, Teiku, which reimagines his family’s unique ancestral Jewish melodies in a creative music context, Mover, a modular suite of graphic scores, and his yet unnamed solo drum and electronics project. He has performed with such luminaries of creative music as Wadada Leo Smith, Angelica Sanchez, John Lindberg, Michael Formanek, Tomeka Reid, Dave Liebman, Jaribu Shahid, and James Cornish, and has played at the Jazz Gallery in New York, the Detroit Jazz Festival, Edgefest, DC Jazz Fest, the IASJC in Cape Town, and Namba Bears in Osaka. Additionally, Taylor maintains study of Hindustani classical music on tabla.
PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures
Asa is a PhD student in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. His research focuses on South Asian languages and diasporas. In particular he works on diaspora theory and language maintenance, seeking to understand experiences of South Asian diasporicity, primarily in Britain and Europe. He works most closely with Punjabi language and the Sikh diaspora. His research also seeks to understand the formation of spoken Punjabi, with the intention of creating pedagogical frameworks around this.
He is also trained in the Indian classical dance forms of Kathak and Bharatanatyam, through his work he seeks to understand the diasporic potential and expressions of these dance forms.