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Research

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies values the unique power of the performing arts to address social issues through performance practice and research. 

We value active discourse, focused discipline, rigorous inquiry and collaborative thinking to creatively express and embrace difference, diversity and identity. We train artist-scholars to be active leaders who influence and expand the practice and social impact of theatre, dance and performance studies.

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"She is Cuba" by Melissa Blanco Borelli

TDPS faculty Melissa Blanco Borelli's "She is Cuba: A Geneaology of the Mulata Body"

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Dance Performance and Scholarship, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:
She is Cuba by Melissa Blanco Borelli

She is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body traces the history of the Cuban mulata and her association with hips, sensuality and popular dance. It examines how the mulata choreographs her racialised identity through her hips and enacts an embodied theory called hip(g)nosis. By focusing on her living and dancing body in order to flesh out the process of identity formation, this book makes a claim for how subaltern bodies negotiate a cultural identity that continues to mark their bodies on a daily basis. Combining literary and personal narratives with historical and theoretical accounts of Cuban popular dance history, religiosity and culture, this work investigates the power of embodied exchanges: bodies watching, looking, touching and dancing with one another. It sets up a genealogy of how the representations and venerations of the dancing mulata continue to circulate and participate in the volatile political and social economy of contemporary Cuba.

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Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

TDPS faculty Jared Mezzocchi co-directs and designs projections for Round House Theatre's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Performance, Dance/Theatre Design and Production

Dates: -
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time stars image

Murder. Mystery. Mayhem. Math. What begins as an investigation into the grisly death of a neighbor’s dog results in a remarkable coming-of-age journey for 15-year-old Christopher Boone. A self-described “mathematician with some behavioral problems,” our narrator sees things differently than those around him and, like fractals in a kaleidoscope, each revelation exposes another puzzle for him to solve. As the audience follows Christopher’s brilliant yet dizzying mind, the full story unravels in a visually dazzling sequence of events onstage. Simon Stephen’s beloved Tony and Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel challenges us to seek out the silver linings in ourselves—and others—as we make our way through the world.

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Jared Mezzocchi nominated for a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award

Mezzocchi was nominated for his projection design work on Qui Nguyen's "Poor Yella Rednecks."

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Dates:

Assistant professor Jared Mezzocchi was nominated for a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for his projection design work on Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks. The Off-Broadway production was postponed due to COVID-19; stay tuned for new dates.

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Marketing communications coordinator Kate Spanos (PhD '16) publishes article about Brazilian carnival dance, frevo

The article examines pedagogy and performance in Brazilian frevo dance.

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:
Brazilian frevo dance - Guerreiros do Passo

Kate Spanos (PhD '16; and our marketing communications coordinator) recently published an article, "Dancing between Pedagogy and Performance: Guerreiros do Passo and the Case of Brazilian Frevo," in Dance Chronicle. The article was co-authored with collaborator Amilcar Almeida Bezerra from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil.

Abstract

Frevo dance comes from the cities of Recife and Olinda in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. We expand on previous research by Valéria Vicente to apply Homi Bhabha’s concepts of pedagogy and performativity to a study of how frevo dancers fight for multiplicity and individuality. We explore how the group Guerreiros do Passo (Frevo Dance Warriors) preserves and disseminates frevo through distinct teaching methods and performance projects, arguing that their work enables the performative enactment of popular memory and the subversion of frevo’s own official discourse. We examine how Guerreiros do Passo provides a new perspective on common challenges in dance pedagogy and performance, including the tensions between tradition/innovation and cultural/individual expression.

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MFA dance candidate Rose Xinran Qi wins at Starpower Dance Competition

Rose Xinran Qi places first in contemporary dance category at local competition.

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Dance Performance and Scholarship

Dates:
Rose Xinran Qi at Starpower Dance Competition

MFA dance candidate Rose Xinran Qi competed in the Advanced Contemporary category at Starpower Dance Competition, a dance competition in Towson, MD that is part of the StarDance Alliance. Rose competed against 37 advanced dance performers, winning first place in the contemporary dance category, as well as the overall Advanced High Score Award.

Performing arts librarian Drew Barker (MA '13) publishes in Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

The article examines a dramaturgical collaboration about the life of abolitionist Benjamin Lay

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:
TDPS Welcomes Back Performance Librarian and Alum Drew Barker

Drew Barker (MA '13; and our performing arts librarian) recently published an article, "Human Histories Onstage: A Conversation on Collaboration with Naomi Wallace & Marcus Rediker," in the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism with co-authors Naomi Wallace and Marcus Rediker.

Abstract

In this essay, which precedes an interview with the playwright Naomi Wallace and the historian Marcus Rediker, an examination of the ideological and aesthetic motivations shared between the two writers reveals how Marxist humanism guides a new co-writing project titled The Return of Benjamin Lay. After describing Benjamin's life and abolitionist activism, an explanation of the two writers' continued collaboration and shared dramaturgy describes how both writers find Benjamin a worthy subject to adapt for the stage.

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PhD candidate Christen Mandracchia publishes article in Studies in Musical Theatre

Christen Mandracchia publishes article stemming from her dramaturgical work on TDPS' 2018 production of "Little Shop of Horrors."

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:
Christen Mandracchia Profile Photo

PhD candidate Christen Mandracchia published her article, "‘Don’t feed the plants!’: Monstrous normativity and disidentification in Little Shop of Horrors," in Studies in Musical Theatre. Christen was the dramaturg for TDPS' 2018 production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Abstract

The 1982 camp horror musical Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of a meek little flower shop attendant named Seymour, who comes across a novelty carnivorous plant that eats human blood. The talking plant preys on Seymour’s infatuation with his beautiful co-worker Audrey to radicalize him into feeding the plant ‘fresh’ bodies. Building on the work of theatre scholar Michael Chemers, who asserts that stage monsters represent larger social and political anxieties of their time, this article identifies Seymour, the normal, white, heterosexual everyman, as the real ‘monster’ of the musical. Thus, the musical’s creators, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, exposed the monstrousness of normativity at the poignant moment in American culture, during the early years of the conservative Reagan administration. This article uses José Muñoz’s theory of ‘disidentification’, a strategy employed by marginalized people working ‘on and against dominant ideology’ to analyse the creators’ didactic and subversive strategy.

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PhD student Jared Strange hired as dramaturg for National Theatre's High School Ticket Program

As dramaturg for National Theatre's High School Ticket Program, Jared Strange prepares student packets and conducts talkbacks for high school students.

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:

PhD student Jared Strange was recently hired as the dramaturg for National Theatre’s High School Ticket Program. In this job, he prepares study packets and conducts talkbacks for high school students for this season’s productions. The program collaborates with organizations such as Young Playwrights’ Theater and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

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PhD student Jared Strange published in Theatre Research International

Jared Strange published research about gestures and scenarios in the soccer World Cup.

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies

Dates:
Jared Strange Profile Photo

PhD student Jared Strange published his article, “The World Cup’s Double-Headed Eagle: Gestures and Scenarios in the Football Arena,” in Theatre Research International.

Abstract:

During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, two Kosovo-born Swiss players stirred controversy when they flashed a double-headed eagle gesture during a contentious win over Serbia. The gesture was an assertion of ethnic Albanian pre-eminence in Kosovo and a rhetorical strike against the Serbians, who still claim ownership over Kosovo even ten years after its declaration of independence. The gesture sparked worldwide media coverage and prompted punishments by FIFA (the World Cup's governing body), which legislates against overt political expression during matches. In this article, I will examine the double-headed eagle gesture as an example of the body's unique capacity to perform multiple political interventions at once. Not only did it transmit a contentious history, it also undermined the anti-political boundaries erected around the scenarios of transnational combat engendered by FIFA, highlighted anti-immigrant sentiments still festering across Europe, and illustrated the communicative powers that elite players can access through their goal celebrations. Considering these valences supports my reading of this case as symbolic of the sort of ruptures produced by competing impulses operating in Europe today, one working for the affirmation of the union, the other for its dissolution.

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Professor Scot Reese recognized at Maryland Research Excellence Celebration

Scot Reese was recognized for having demonstrably elevated the visibility and reputation of the University of Maryland Research Enterprise.

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Dates:
Scot Reese Profile Photo

Professor Scot Reese was recognized at the University of Maryland's Maryland Research Excellence Celebration on February 26. The honor acknowledges faculty who have demonstrably elevated the visibility and reputation of the University of Maryland Research Enterprise. Scot was nominated by Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill of the College of Arts & Humanities.