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M.F.A. in Performance as Public Practice
Abimbola Adunni Adelakun
Abimbola Adunni Adelakun is a PhD student with scholarship interests in of Performance Activism and Social Change; Transatlantic Black Identity and Yoruba/Nigeria Performance Aesthetics. She currently holds an M.A. and B.A. in the Communication and Language Arts Department, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is in the link program between PPP and African and African Diaspora Studies where she’ll be obtaining a second Master’s.
Abimbola, born and raised in Nigeria, was a journalist with PUNCH, Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper. She maintains a weekly column in PUNCH, writing on contemporary socio-political issues influencing Nigeria. She is also an editor, has worked as Media consultant for cultural festivals, is a contributor to many magazines and journals, and is a novelist as well. Her debut book, Under the Brown Rusted Roofs, attracted several accolades. The second book is in the works and should be released before the end of 2013. She is a book editor and producer, helping writers to birth fiction and non-fiction materials.
She has featured in several stage productions in and out of the university environment some of which include Dead End, a stage play put up for eight weeks in Ibadan, Oyo state to discourage illegal migration among Nigerian citizens; Yemoja; The Concubine; The Good Woman of Setzuan etc. She was part of the Abia state cultural troupe in her NYSC Year and featured in many plays and television programs. Abimbola loves reading (especially novels!), writing, blogging, talking long introspective walks (alone) and watching movies and documentaries.
Dotun Ayobade is a PhD student in the Performance at Public Practice (PPP) program and his research centers on the contribution and responses of Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat performance to society and politics in Nigeria particularly between the 1970s and 90s. Therefore, his research borders around the intersections between Afrobeat music, Yoruba epistemology and political activism in Nigeria. Dotun is a Nigerian poet and playwright whose artistic interests are in the exploration of Yoruba indigenous performance aesthetics in addressing socio-political issues in contemporary Africa. He has written an anthology of unpublished poems and two plays, Ijapa and Shrouds in the Womb, both of which attempt to reimagine Yoruba mythologies and folklore in contemporary socio-political contexts. Dotun recently presented a paper titled “Poor Performances: Poverty and Survival in the Performances of Nigerian Standup Comedians” at the 2012 edition of The Toyin Falola Annual International Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora.
Scott Blackshire is a second year PhD student in the Performance as Public Practice program at The University of Texas at Austin, College of Fine Arts, and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Engaging Research Committee for the 2013 Cohen New Works Festival.
His work examines the reality of artists’ lives, specifically as they emerge from academic programs into their post-baccalaureate creative community of choice. The way in which communities support artists – and allocate funds accordingly - is also important in order to capture maximum support from private and community–based sources, foundations, individual patrons, and corporate underwriters for emerging and established artists. Experiences and perspectives from the performing, professional, and non-profit worlds will support exploration of the identity of emerging artists. It will also enable consideration of what might be done to better prepare all types of artists to fully engage in their artistic endeavors. In short, prepare emerging artists to flourish in communities ready to welcome and support them.
Scott earned his Bachelor of Music (Indiana University, Bloomington) and Master of Music (Catholic University, Washington, DC) degrees in Opera Performance and has sung with regional opera companies in the United States and in the UK. He has enjoyed premiering new operatic works and presenting solo recitals. While pursuing his graduate studies in Washington, DC, Scott worked as the Assistant Director of Development at The Caring Institute (an affiliate of the National Association for Homecare). While living in New York City he worked in the private sector, most notably as Managing Director of an international children’s charity, Sovann Komar, delivering housing and healthcare to abandoned and orphaned children in Cambodia. In Austin, performing has been balanced with management and development work in the non-profit, private foundation, and academic realms.
Cassidy C Browning
Cassidy C Browning is an activist theatre scholar, educator, and practitioner. Browning began as a PhD in the Performance as Public Practice Program in the fall of 2009 and is currently serving as the Graudate Student Representative on the 2013-2014 Season Selection Committee, the Graduate Outreach Coordinator, and the The University Co-Op Presents the 2013 Cohen New Works Festival Engaging Research Subcommittee Co-Chair. The current title of her dissertation is "Representations of Transgender-ness on Stage and Screen," and she is also completing the Portfolio in Women and Gender Studies at UT. In the spring and summer of 2012, she performed in two award-winning productions in Austin - Dice in FronteraFest and the Austin Bike Zoo's Midsummer in Motion.
Browning was recently an Instructional Assistant Professor in Illinois State University’s School of Theatre, and graduated in 2008 with an M.A. in Theatre History and Criticism and minor in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Browning’s undergraduate degree was a double major in Acting and Theatre History from Illinois State University in 2006. She has taught both Introduction to Theatre and Theatre History at UT, and in the fall of 2010, received the student-nominated Texas Exes Teaching Award for the College of Fine Arts.
Her research interests include Queer Theory and Theatre, Gender Studies, Performance Art, Feminism, Transgender Identities, Performance Studies, Racialized Studies, Humor, and Internet Identity. Browning deposited a thesis in May 2008 titled, “A Room of Wong's Own: Identity Politics in the Life and Work of Kristina Wong” about a Los Angeles-based performance artist who became a figure of Third Wave Feminism after creating her infamous website <bigbadchinesemama.com>. She is also highly active in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) presenting her own research, organizing panels, and in service, recently completing a two-year term as the Graduate Student Subcommittee Co-Chair and as the Focus Group Representative-Elect (2014-2015) for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Focus Group.
Ninoska M’bewe Escobar
Ninoska M’bewe Escobar (M.A.) is Honduran movement artist who trained at The Clark Center for the Performing Arts and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York. She is a doctoral student in Performance as Public Practice with a portfolio concentration in African and African Diaspora Studies and a recipient of The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies Outstanding Graduate Student Award 2012. M’bewe’s interdisciplinary orientation focuses on performance practices within African Diaspora communities, developments and contemporary practices in American modern dance, and the trajectory of feminine innovation in twentieth century dance and performance.
Her research considers the interrelatedness of cultural heritage and social experience in the formation of Black identity and theorizes the Black dancing body as a transmitter of auto/body/graphy. Her Master thesis project examined how Black cultural and political consciousness in the first half of the twentieth century shaped representations of Blackness in the works of choreographer Pearl Primus.
M’bewe has had a career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, appearing in the original Fame and in numerous concert stage productions and venues, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, and the NextWave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has taught widely, specializing in Contemporary Modern and African-based dance and performing techniques. She is a facilitator of the humanities curriculum Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach and a visiting faculty at The Ailey School and AileyCamp.
Brianna Figueroa is an M.A. student in the Performance as Public Practice program. She received her B.F.A. in Dance Performance from the University of Wyoming where she began cultivating an interest in the embodied performance of cultural identity. Her thesis project focuses on the presence and work of Chicana identified choreographers who produce in the western genres of modern and postmodern dance. Grounding her work in feminist and border theories, she examines the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and history can be explored, challenged, and shared through physical performance.
Rachel Gilbert is a scholar and theatre maker in her second year of the Masters program in Performance as Public Practice. Originally from Maryland, Gilbert graduated suma cum laude from Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, PA) in 2011 with B.A. degrees in Theatre Performance and History. Currently, Gilbert’s scholarship focuses on the children's theatre of Federal Theatre Project and its attempted radicalization of the youngest Great Depression audience. Gilbert most recently presented her work at the IVth International Conference on American Theatre and Drama in Seville, Spain this past May. As a dramaturg, Gilbert works both in the department and Austin at large to promote new plays and classic productions. Favorite collaborations include The Cataract (Dir. Will Davis), Rabbits by Sarah Saltwick, Twelfth Night (Dir. Ann Ciccolella) and Love’s Labour's Lost (Dir. John Langs).
Natalie Goodnow is a M.F.A student in PPP. She is a nationally recognized theatre artist, teaching artist, and cultural activist from Austin, Texas. She creates original works of performance, as a solo artist and also in collaboration with other performers and writers, both youth and adults. Her solo play Mud Offerings is the 2011 winner of the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, and has been presented nationally at festivals and conferences in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., and throughout Texas. Previously, Goodnow worked as a Teaching Artist and Artistic Associate with Creative Action, engaging young people in dialogue about social issues through the creative arts, and developing curricula and training for other educators to do so as well. She is also a member of The Austin Project, and holds a B.A. from Southwestern University, where she majored in Theatre and minored in Spanish and Feminist Studies. Natalie is interested in the intersections between ecodrama, ecofeminism, women of color feminisms, and applied theatre practices. See her website and/or blog for more: www.nataliegoodnow.com, makinggoodnow.blogspot.com
Christina Gutierrez holds a Master's degree in Theatre History from CU Boulder, and will receive her Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from UT Austin in the spring of 2013. Her dissertation research focuses on contemporary, performance-based representations of the Middle Ages. Her work on Shakespeare's Henry V as an opportunity for contemporary directors to stage versions of medieval history can be found in the forthcoming anthology Shakespeare Embodied: Page, Stage, and Classroom in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 2013). Christina is also the co-producing artistic director of the Austin-based 7 Towers Theatre Company, for which she also serves as resident director.
Kristen Jackson is a M.A. student in PPP. She is interested in performance as an object of analysis, and method of critical inquiry, for understanding culture, identity, and everyday life. Her research concentration is the hybrid nature of black middle class cultural performances, and exploring performance as a site of resistance. Other areas of interest include black feminist theory, queer theory, and gender studies.
As a performer, Kristen has understudied and appeared in productions for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Actors Theatre of Louisville. In Louisville she also curated Week 11 of Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays and served as directing assistant and rehearsal assistant for Humana Festival and Mainstage Series productions. As a teaching artist, Kristen participated in outreach tours for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s education department, and served as an adjunct instructor for Wildlife Theatre at New York City's Central Park Zoo. Kristen also spent many years working in arts administration as an assistant for Broadway, Off-Broadway, television and film projects. Most recently she provided administrative and programming support for a national dance service organization. Kristen is a graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies and English.
Nicole Martin is a third-year Ph.D. student in Performance as Public Practice. She received her B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin and completed her M.A. in Communication from Arizona State University with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Performance Studies. Her thesis project, “Michelle Obama: A Womanist/(Black) Feminist Auto/Biographical Analysis of Self-Identification,” examined Michelle Obama's employment of the moniker “Mom-in-Chief” through the archetypical construction of ideological womanhood exemplified by the role of First Lady as it works against the continued stereotypical devaluation of black women the United States. This project interrogated the intersections of race, class, and gender, provided historical contextualization for these discourses, and infused personal narrative to challenge audience conceptions of who and what black women should be in order for the public to understand them.
Nicole's current research interests focus on the relationship between race, the body, identity and the state. She has performed several iterations of her exploratory piece, Being Melancholia: A Performative Exploration of Grief in Texas and Louisiana; this work interrogates black subjectivity through racial mourning and black abjection as embodied and ritualized affect. Her scholarship also examines popular culture, feminist discourse, and cultural memory. Nicole is part of a student-led collective called the Performing Research Lab, a group of cross-disciplinary collaborators on campus committed to developing artist-scholars and supporting aesthetic practices through theoretical frameworks. Nicole has acted as dramaturg for Quiet Frenzy, a featured performance in 2011 for the Performing Blackness series through the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. She is currently serving as a grad-student representative on the Fine Arts Diversity Committee for the 2012-2013 academic year.
James McMaster is a M.A. student in PPP. He received his B.A. from Muhlenberg College where he majored in Theater concentrating in Acting and Performance Studies while minoring in Sociology. His undergraduate thesis entitled, “A Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes: Spect-Acting in the Academy as Rehearsal for the Revolution” examined the transformative experience of heterosexually-identified men playing queer-identified roles in theatrical production through the lens of Boal’s ‘Theatre of the Oppressed.’ In the past two years, he has studied theater and performance abroad both in London, England and throughout Ghana. In 2010, James lead an ensemble in conducting over 50 qualitative interviews eventually turning those interviews into The Sedehi Diversity Play, a documentary theater piece he directed, intended to acculturate his campus community to issues of diversity and multiculturalism. As a performer he has performed on the Muhlenberg Main Stage on multiple occasions as well as elsewhere in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Most notably, James received a KCACTF Irene Ryan nomination for his performance as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also played the role of Ferdinand in a dance-theater adaptation of The Tempest co-created by Troy Dwyer and the University of Texas at Austin’s own Charles O. Anderson. His primary research interests lie in Queer and Asian-American intersecting identities interrogating the relationship between queer performance aesthetics and overt Oriental stereotype. Other interests include the mobilization of privileged populations toward social justice through theater and performance, feminist theory, documentary theater, performance ethnography, critical race theory, TO, drag performance, historiography, musical theater, whiteness, masculinities, and curiosities yet undiscovered.
Beliza Torres Narvåez
Beliza Torres Narvåez, an artist/scholar/educator from Puerto Rico, is currently a PhD Candidate in PPP. Her dissertation analyzes how Latina performers delineate the emotional and political dimensions behind the constructions of fatness as undesirable, and its relationship to ethnicity, race and gender. Other scholarly research focuses on AfroLatina/o performers, radical street performance, masculinity, performance-as-research, and applied theatre. She has taught movement, acting, applied theatre, theatre appreciation and humanities at the college level, and has trained teachers on how to integrate theatre to the regular curriculum. She has worked with different organizations developing and facilitating programs for youth that integrates techniques of drama therapy, theatre and pedagogy of the oppressed and education for peace to support the development of communication and social skills in order to promote and practice personal growth, solidarity, unity-in-diversity, equality and justice. As a performer, Beliza has developed a number of solo performances, and also collaborated with other artists exploring identity, sexuality, time and public space.
Chuyun Oh is a Ph. D. student in Performance as Public Practice (PPP) at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her Master degree at Ewha Womans University in South Korea majoring philosophy and dance aesthetics. Her master thesis investigates the gender critique on South Korean television advertisement dances. She won several academic scholarships and international performance awards, including Fulbright Graduate Study Award (2009). She is an author of two books about interdisciplinary arts and criticism, titled The Subjective Objectivity of Language; Three metaphors: Language, Image, and the Body (Seoul: Da Vinci, 2009) and Speak Criticism Critically: Interdisciplinary Arts Meta-Criticism (Eds. Chuyun Oh and Minguan Kim, Seoul: Dao, 2009) respectively, sponsored by Korean Arts Counsel. She has worked as a practitioner, choreographer, critic, and performance studies scholar. Her current research focuses on postcolonial feminist critique on the race, gender, and class representation in the 21st century Korean pop culture.
Eleanor Owicki is a PhD Candidate in the Performance as Public Practice Program. Her dissertation, "Staging a Shared Future Performance and the Search for Inclusive Narratives in the 'New' Belfast," focuses on the relationship between theatre and the ongoing Northern Irish peace process. In 2011, she received a William J. Powers Graduate Fellowship, which honors excellence in graduate research. Publications include “Rattle Away at Your Bin: Women, Community, and Bin Lids in Northern Irish Drama” in Theatre Symposium and book and performance reviews in Theatre Journal. She currently serves as the Assistant Editor for the journal Theatre Research International. She has presented at many conferences, including the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, the American Conference of Irish Studies and the American Society for Theatre Research. Eleanor is also a dramaturg, and has worked on UT productions including The Trojan Women, Threepenny Opera, and this year’s Intimate Apparel.
Roén Salinas (M.F.A., Dance, UT/Austin) is currently a doctoral candidate in the U.T. Performance as Public Practice program with graduate portfolios in Mexican-American Studies and RGK Nonprofit Management and Philanthropic Studies. His research examines Southwest Borderlands identity and histories in American dance, with a focus on Chicana/o performance and barrio cultural production. Salinas has presented research for the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS), Texas Association of Chicana/os in Higher Education (TAChE), the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC). As dissertation research he coordinated the UT/Center for Mexican-American Studies and Department of Theater cosponsored symposium titled “Danzas: Siglo XXI: Modern Movimientos.”
A Tejano artist/scholar/citizen, Salinas is the artistic director/choreographer of Austin’s AZTLAN Dance Company, where he integrates research with practice to create thought-provoking Tejano/Xicano inspired dance that draws from pre-Columbian, folk, and contemporary forms. Roén is active in numerous public forums, boards, and initiatives that advocate the arts. He teaches Theater and Dance/CMAS cross listed undergraduate courses in Chicano Performance, Dance in Chicano Society, Latino Dance Rhythms, and Mexican-American Public Performance.