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Current Students

José (Pepe) Álvarez-Colón

Pepe Álvarez is a Puerto Rican interdisciplinary artist and scholar working across the disciplines of dance, theatre, and performance art. His doctoral research project examines Puerto Rico’s experimental dance history particularly looking at the practices, aesthetics and socio-political frameworks of dance improvisation in the context of Puerto Rico’s four-decades long economic crisis. Both his artistic practice and academic work follow a practice-based research methodology to establish links between art practice, critical theory and cultural history. He is currently working as one of the co-principal investigators in Northwestern University’s Puerto Rican Arts Development Initiative PRAI (2018-2020) sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Archita Arun

Archita Arun is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and scholar from India. As part of her artistic practice, Archita works with oral histories to ponder questions of home, (be)longing, memory, love, and loss. She uses sound as an entry point into familial narratives, re-centering, retelling, and rewriting matrilineal histories. In her research, Archita hopes to situate the ethnographic methodology that she has developed within her practice at the intersection of diaspora studies, sound studies, and performance studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theater and Creative Writing from NYU Abu Dhabi in 2020, and is trained as both a performer and a Carnatic singer.

Tarek Adam Benchouia

Tarek Adam Benchouia is a scholar and artist from Austin, Texas. He holds a B.A. in Arabic and M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation project focuses on masculinity and digital culture surrounding mahraganat music in Egypt. His research interests include performance in Egypt and Algeria, postcolonial and decolonial theory, popular music studies, sound studies, gender and sexuality studies, and digital humanities.

Robert Biedrzycki

Robert Biedrzycki is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, and activist who uses performance to study U.S. carceral power. His research explores methods of incarceration used to organize and manage social disposability, and the grassroots movements fighting to resist these forces. Areas of interest include: critical performance ethnography, performance pedagogy, Black performance theory, Marxist theory, critical legal studies and critical race studies. Robert is a prison abolitionist and social justice activist committed to building a world without prisons.

Rashayla Marie Brown

Rashayla Marie studies conceptual performance art, modern and contemporary art markets, arts education, Black performance and aesthetics of relation, and Global modernisms. The art market heavily influences art education, which thereby influences which artists are historically canonized and which studio practices dominate our understanding of who deserves to be considered a “master” artist. Rashayla Marie hopes to work as a professor or curator at a major educational art institution while maintaining an active studio practice and producing art essays and films for popular audiences.

Ali Faraj

With a background in Computer and Audio Engineering, DJ-ing, English Literature and advertising copywriting/translation, Ali’s general (research) interests encompass the circulation, consumption and performance of culture across languages, genres and media. More specifically, Ali is interested in comparing different performances of fandom and stardom of working class communities, and their depictions of anger, social mobility and racial identity. These performances include, but are not limited to: Northern Soul music, Kitchen Sink Drama and Egyptian popular culture post Suez Crisis.

Ethan Fukuto

Ethan Fukuto’s writing and research is situated between Asian American Studies, Queer and Feminist Theory, and Performance Studies. His dissertation considers niches, holes, ephemeral traces, and peripheries in Asian/American art and performance as set within the historic racial- and sexual-ization of Asian/American subjects. He is interested in how Asian/American cultural production contributes to theories of difference by critically lingering in the unrepresentable gaps and losses that pock Asian America’s psychic and relational landscape. Ethan holds a BA in Media Studies from Pomona College and an MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and is from Los Angeles, CA.

Olabanke Oyinkansola Goriola

Olabanke Oyinkansola Goriola (She/Her) is an interdisciplinary scholar, performer, researcher, trained dancer, hairstylist, and dance anthropologist from Nigeria. She received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan in 2016 and a dance certificate from The Dance Deal Training Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria. Olabanke obtained an Erasmus Mundus International Master of Arts (MA) in Choreomundus: Anthropology of Dance from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU, Norway); University Clermont Auvergne (UCA, France); University of Szeged (SZTE, Hungary) and University of Roehampton (UR, The United Kingdom) in 2020. She also studied at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, under the Kirby Laing Foundation Scholarship, where she received a Master of Science by Research (MScR) in the Study of Religion in 2021. Olabanke’s previous research has explored how the Afro-Brazilian Candomble Orishas’ personality traits are visible through the dances of the Orishas. She investigated the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Afro-Brazilian Candomble religion and how the adherents are devising new methods to keep the religion alive. Drawing from the politics of religion, anthropology, dance and performance, her current research aims to identify and analyze the explicit and implicit sacrifices dark-skinned female performers offer to comply with industry standards and the dynamics of colorism manifesting in these standards. Also, she intends to explore how colorism influences the mental belief of dark-skinned female performers. Olabanke’s areas of research include Dance studies, Ritual studies, African/Diasporic Religion, Music and Dance, Gender and Sexuality studies, Black Feminist theories and performances, Dance Anthropology and Ethnochoreology, Media Studies, Dance Movement Therapy, Media and Film Studies, Cultural studies, and the use of technology such as motion capture to explore dance and movement.

Gabriel Guzman

Gabriel Guzmán is a multifaceted scholar and thinker from Tijuana and San Diego. Their research interests are moved by questions surrounding the phenomenological effects of neon lighting in relationship to the queer body especially in nightlife contexts and across transnational settings. This project aims to uncover the way that the excess of neon tableau and other forms of color (lighting) can enact and shroud queer quotidian choreographies. This is especially prominent in understanding the strategies of survival that minoritarian subjects fashion moving through time and space. Being first-generation and Latinx, Gabriel wants to contribute to the diversification of educators in the higher educational context, stimulate new directions of thinking, and to positively nurture future students of color.

Nathan J. Lamp

Nathan J. Lamp is a theatre director, dramaturg, and writer from Toledo, OH. They received their B.S. in Performance Studies & Biological Anthropology from Northwestern University and their M.A. in Theatre & Performance Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Nathan’s research interests include popular music as performance, sound studies, media studies, musical theatre, 20th-century and contemporary American theatre, dance, and performance, applied theatre practices, dramaturgy, Jewish studies, gender & sexuality studies, feminist performance theory, queer theory, trans studies, and disability studies. Nathan has worked with organizations such as St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Union Avenue Opera, First Run Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Broadway in Chicago, Waltzing Mechanics, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame, the Performing Arts Department at Washington University, and Imagine U/Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

Micahel Landez

Michael Landez, MFA (he/him) is originally from San Antonio, Texas where he began his training in ballet and tap. He trained with Buddy and Susan Trevino for numerous summers at the Joffrey Workshop TX before joining American Repertory Ballet under the direction of Douglas Martin. He enjoys performing, making, and teaching about dance through active participation with those that want the experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from TexasA&M- San Antonio and certification through the American Ballet Theatre National Teacher Training Curriculum (Pre-Primary – Partnering), Progressing Ballet Technique, and a 200-HR Yoga Teacher Training. He recently completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance at the University of Iowa with a performance emphasis, under the advisement of Rebekah J. Kowal. His research interests lie at the intersection of dance practice, performance studies, dance studies, Latinx studies, and queer studies, where he seeks to embody a more just and equitable sense of Western concert dance history in the present. He is a co-founder and current member of the Dance Farm Collective and Ballet Master for the Alamo City Arts.

Madeleine Le Cesne

Madeleine Le Cesne is a New Orleanian poet scholar working across the fields of performance studies, critical race theory, environmental studies, urban studies, and affect theory. Her research focuses on porosity and points of seepage as critical relationalities that blur the boundaries between body, object, and land in New Orleans’ past-present-future black creole communities. She is invested in the worldmaking potential of critical theory and hopes to return to New Orleans after her studies to develop this work into practice. She holds an A.B. in Anthropology with certificates in Dance Studies and Creative Writing from Princeton University (2019).

Clara Lee

Clara Lee is a researcher, writer, and cultural worker from Singapore. Formally trained in the History of Art, their interest at large circulates through and around discourses of the body (techno-/bio-/onto-). Centring the materiality as well as materialisation and dematerialisation of the body, they are interested in how the doing and undoing of the body is complicated by contemporary regimes of power. In tracing the affinities between affect theory, performance studies, and critical race studies, they hope to attend to the flesh as both embodied analytic and lived materiality. They hold a B.A. in History of Art and Material Studies from University College London, and a M.A. in Aesthetics and Politics from California Institute of the Arts.

Jennifer Ligaya

Jennifer Ligaya is an AfroPinay sound & performance composer and artist scholar born and raised in Chicago with an interdisciplinary background in visual art, vocal performance, dance, and theater. Mother to a Scorpio son, graduate of the MA in Interdisciplinary Art program at Columbia College in Chicago, and PhD student of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, her original work includes solo and collaborative performance compositions and sound installations. A sponsored artist, grant recipient, and commissioned multimedia artist, her compositions amplify critical conversations around identity, liberatory practices,  ancestral indigenous knowledge systems, and moments of communal healing, through the weaving of traditional and contemporary sound, performance, and personal ancestral folk arts practices. The newest core member of Honey Pot Performance, Ligaya’s research interests sit at the intersections of Sound Studies, Critical Mixed Race and Diaspora Theory, Southern Studies, and Cultural Studies. Her current creative practice explores Afro-Asian feminist subjectivities and speculative arts, indigenous healing and survival practices, and the genealogies of anticolonial spiritual-political resistance.

Website:  www.jenniferligaya.com

Malú Machuca Rose

Malú Machuca Rose is a transfeminist scholar/organizer/cultural worker from Perú. Currently, Malú is a PhD student in the Department of Performance Studies and a Mellon Fellow in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern. Their research focuses on queer of color critique, particularly around questions of trans and queer death and survival, desire, nightlife, sex and risk, decoloniality, feminism, critical theory, performance, visual culture and healing justice. Their most recent work appears in the Trans en las Américas issue of TSQ and interrogates the necropolitical response to HIV/AIDS through the racialized and classed lens of a travesti politics of refusal, in the essay “Giuseppe Campuzano’s Afterlife: Towards a Travesti Methodology for Critique, Care and Radical Resistance” (2019). Malú received their MA in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and their BA in Sociology from PUCP. Malú is co-author of “Estado de Violencia” and “Nuestra Voz Persiste”, books published on the situation of LGBTIQ people in Peru as part of their work in No Tengo Miedo.

Shelby Mack

Shelby Mack is a proud former community college student, who graduated from West Los Angeles Community College in the spring of 2015. She then transferred and graduated from the University of California Berkeley in the fall of 2018, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies (cum laude honors) with a concentration in African American Studies and Education. Shelby also studied at Yale University as a Yale ESI-PREP  Research Fellow (cohort 2019-2020), taking graduate courses in African American Studies and Gender and Women Sexuality studies, while also developing an academic research project which examined the various intersections between disidentification, hyper-femme aesthetics, and hip-hop culture.

Her project was supported by Dr. Roderick Ferguson, chair of the Gender Women Sexuality Studies Department at Yale University. Currently her work examines how visual representations of Black queer women artists (from genres such as – Hip-Hop, R&B, Dancehall) coupled with their lyrics, individual personas, and gender performance demonstrate the complexities and contradictions of Black womanhood, Black female sexuality, and intimacy.

Her research interests include: Black Feminist Thought, Black Queer Studies, Afro-Futurism, Pan-Africanism, Black Radical Imagination, Sound Studies, Utopian Performativity, Minoritarian Performance, Protest-Music, Fan Culture, and Black Cultural Production. To stay connected, view her academic website, www.shelbymacktheperformancestudiesscholar.com/

Greg Manuel

Greg Manuel is a researcher and sound artist from far Northern California. In the wake of the catastrophic megafires that swept through the region in 2018, Greg’s research asks how local rhythms of human and nonhuman life might respond to profound and repeated disturbance. As rural landscapes reorganize themselves under the pressures of global climate change and decades of land mismanagement, fires burn differently and demand new forms of reckoning. Greg’s work zooms in on the modes of improvisation, memory, and performance through which fire-disturbed communities grapple with the volatile landscapes that surround them. Alongside performance studies, Greg’s interests include the environmental humanities, affect theory, plant studies, science studies, process thought, and rural geography. Greg holds a B.Mus. in Composition from Oberlin Conservatory and an M.A. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.

Gervais Marsh

Gervais Marsh’s research project considers different forms of queer (non-normative) performance in the Anglophone Caribbean as sites that facilitate processes and modes of decolonization, particularly related to gender and sexuality. The project focuses on Dancehall and Carnival Culture, LGBTQ+ activism and theater performance artists as potential research sites, spaces and interlocutors. Research Interests: Black Feminisms, Caribbean Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Black Queer Studies, Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Black Performance Theory.

Daisy Donaji Matias

Daisy Donají Matias is a Oaxacan-American writer, scholar, and occasional storyteller, from Richmond, Virginia. Daisy’s work explores the imagination as a site of transformative and worldmaking potential within indigenous Mexican healing traditions and new age spiritual practices. She is particularly interested in the capacity of ritual healing methods to resolve first-hand and intergenerational trauma inflicted through migration and displacement. Her work is ultimately an exploration of the messy nature of embodiment for the minoritarian subject. Daisy grounds her scholarly practice in the methodologies of performative writing, oral history, autoethnography, and performance ethnography. Daisy holds dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Art History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Johanna Middleton

Johanna Middleton (she/her) is an artist-educator-scholar with a passion for telling stories and organizing spaces for others to tell their own stories – particularly those that ask questions at the intersections of race and gender. She practices creating communities of care and collective healing, as well as brave spaces for dialogue across difference, through the process of sharing personal narrative. As an actress, Johanna has appeared on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Nickelodeon, and as a storyteller, she has performed personal narrative on stages around Los Angeles including The Moth, KPCC’s Unheard LA, Upright Citizens Brigade, iO West, and the Santa Monica Playhouse. She is currently the co-host of Gray Area Stories, a podcast about the healing journeys of survivors of sexual violence and she recently staged the participatory performance, Resilient Body: a Ritual to Unlearn Rape Culture, devised in partnership with Louisiana State University student organizations committed to ending gendered violence.  In 2014, Johanna founded Girlie Stories, a storytelling community for womxn in Los Angeles, organizing gatherings, workshops, and showcases for six years. Also committed to arts education, she has worked as a teaching artist, program manager, and consultant for organizations like Albany Park Theatre Project (Chicago), Greenway Arts Alliance (Los Angeles), and The Colored Girls Museum (Philadelphia). In Los Angeles, Johanna co-created Arts Circle, a storytelling-based arts therapy initiative for students at Fairfax High School. She received her BA in Theatre at Northwestern and her MA in Communication Studies (Performance Studies focus) at LSU. Her research interests include applied storytelling, black feminisms, decolonial performance pedagogy, utopian performance spaces, critical ethnography, autoethnography, and autoperformance. Her scholarly work has been published in Storytelling, Self, and Society and Liminalities.

Michell Nicole Miller

Michell Nicole Miller is an undisciplined poet and educator. Her current project explores the intersections of black feminist spiritualities, reproductive justice, and ritual performance. Her research interests include: transnational black feminisms, postcolonial/decolonial praxis, black poetics, and sound studies. She holds an A.M. in Theater and Performance Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in English Literature and Languages.

Natalia Molebatsi

Natalia Molebatsi is a PhD student in Performance Studies. She is a Pan-African feminist and queer poet, writer and cultural worker from South Africa. Natalia is the editor of We are: A Poetry Anthology (Penguin, 2008) and Wild Imperfections: An Anthology of Womanist Poems (forthcoming from Penguin Random House and Cassava Republic Press, 2021). She is the author of Sardo Dance (Ge’ko, 2009) and Elephant Woman Song (Forum, 2017).  Her writing is included in, among other journals, Scrutiny2Rhodes Journalism ReviewAgendaMuziki and the National Political Science Review. Her MA thesis (through the University of South Africa) entitled An Analysis of Representations of Women in SAfm’s Poetry in the Air, focused on a critical discourse analysis of womanist cultural production on public radio. Her BA (Hons) work focused on the representation of Black women’s hair in television advertisements. Her research interests include feminist media inquiry; Black queer and feminist performance and poetry in theatre as radical (intersectional) feminist intervention. Natalia has performed poetry and presented creative writing workshops in over 15 countries.

Cordelia Rizzo

Cordelia Rizzo Is an activist-scholar from Monterrey, Mexico. With a background in Human Rights and Philosophy, her current research project is looking at embroidery as a form of performing resistance against the dehumanizing apparatus of the current War on Drugs in Mexico. The production of textiles is a way of preserving an archive of women’s voices implicitly resisting the idea that war and violence are inevitable. She is also interested in the political aspect of the performance of touch and other everyday rituals.

Arnaldo Rodríguez-Bagué

Arnaldo Rodríguez-Bagué is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and a practice-as-research scholar. He received an MA on Cultural Management (2015) and a BA in Anthropology (2012) both from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Rodríguez-Bagué’s research project focuses on contemporary visual art and performance on colonial insular geographies in the Caribbean and the Pacific islands. His project articulates an archipelagic performance in relation to the queer possibilities produced by the intersections of geography, colonialism, and climate change in the age of the Anthropocene. His research interest center around Performance Theory, Archipelagic American Studies, Caribbean Studies, Pacific Studies, Critical Geography, Transnationalism and Globalization, Decolonial Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Environmental Humanities, Eco-criticism, and New Materialism.

Danielle Ross

Danielle Ross is a choreographer and performer. Her research examines movement-based artists that work in transnational contexts and consider women’s histories which face erasure and absence. Ross’ work asks how motion (both choreographic and geographic) provides an analytic for historicizing and keeping in relation to variously formed lineages. Ross’ project sits at the intersection of Performance Studies, Dance Studies, Black Feminisms, Postcolonial Studies, Transnational Studies, and Women’s Studies. This work considers the relational histories of marginalized groups outside of a framework of the nation or forms of documentation legislated by dominant histories and archival practices. Opposing analytics of capture, Ross’ research considers sensation, affect, and motion as methods for maintaining relationality to lineage. In addition to her research, Ross is an independent artist and choreographer. Her work has been presented across the United States, including Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, and Detroit. She has received grants from numerous institutions including the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Andy Warhol Foundation. Currently, she is working on a solo project titled You Are Not Alone and a duet with Ginger Krebs (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). As a performer, she has worked with Linda Austin, Ayako Kato, lu yim, Bouchra Ouizguen, Zoe|Juniper, and more. Find more at daniellerossperformance.com

Tony Sims

Tony Sims is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, director, and educator. Their work and research focus on the ethos of postmemory/postmemorial embodied practices concerning African American history in contemporary performance. Interested in visual history, Sims explores the ethics of intersubjectivity within re-performance and subject/objecthood. Employing stillness within their artistic practice and research, they are curious about the multifaceted opportunities between the performance of opacity, disappearance, living history, and personal narratives concerning African American historical memory.

They hold a BFA in Musical Theatre from Western Carolina University. Additionally, they studied at The Theatre School at DePaul University within the MFA in Acting program and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago within the MFA Performance program.

Enzo E. Vasquez Toral

Enzo E. Vasquez Toral is a theater director, scholar, and performer originally from Peru. His doctoral work focuses on queer and trans engagement in patron-saint fiestas, folklore, and religiosity in the Andes, with a special focus on the theorization of ritual cross-dressing from queer and trans perspectives through ethnographic and historiographical methods. He has presented his academic and performance work in conference and theater festivals in Latin America, the United States and Europe; most recently, he has been touring his solo performed-ethnography piece Cuir Devotion. His academic work in English and Spanish has been published or is forthcoming in publications such as Modern DramaEl AltoKeywords;For Further Consideration, and several edited volumes. He currently serves as Assistant Chair for the Public Affairs Residential College at Northwestern, and as Graduate Representative for the Performance Studies Focus Group in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Enzo holds MA degrees from Northwestern University and Princeton University, and a BA from Harvard University. Formerly, he was a Graduate Fellow at Northwestern’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR), a Harvard Artistic Development Fellow in Brazil, and the Director and Founder of Princeton University’s Spanish Theater group. Before coming to Northwestern, Enzo was an Exchange Scholar in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University.

Benjamin Zender

Benjamin Zender considers practices of hoarding and abject object management in relationship to the labor of minoritarian archives. He is interested in how normative conceptions of household management help to demarcate whose lives and objects are worthy of documentation and communal memory. His research areas include queer and trans theory, feminist theory, affect studies, new materialisms, critical race theory, disability studies, and critical university studies. Zender received an M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a B.A. in Writing and Rhetoric from Syracuse University.)