York U Theatre postdocs give presentations on their research

Research by Postdoctoral Fellows in the Theatre Department took centre stage Monday, Jan. 23. “The Spotlight on Postdoctoral Fellows Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series” event will feature presentations from three dynamic scholars who are affiliated with York University, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). This event is part of the Department of Theatre’s year-long exploration of difference and ability, as well as the speakers series’ theme: Access/Excess: Choreographies of Difference.

The event profiled the work of Postdoctoral Fellows Alana Gerecke, Sasha Kovacs and Shelley Liebembuk.

photo of Alana Gerecke

Alana Gerecke

Alana Gerecke spoke about her project “Urban Choreographies.” Gerecke is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow pursuing a research project on flash mobs, social choreography and the politics of moving together. Gerecke is a past Trudeau Scholar, recipient of a Queen’s Fellowship, a Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) Program Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship and a Mellon Dance Studies Summer Seminar Fellowship. Her PhD developed a site-specific methodology to examine the spatial and social politics of contemporary dance set in public, urban places throughout Vancouver, Canada (SFU 2016). Recently, she was awarded Honourable Mention for the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) Robert G. Lawrence Prize for emerging scholars. She has published in numerous journals, including the journals Canadian Theatre Review, The Dance Current, Dance Research Journal, Performance Research, and Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s (DCD 2012), and has been commissioned to write an essay for Susan Manning, Janice Ross, and Rebecca Schneider’s co-edited anthology (Oxford 2017). Gerecke is also an active independent dance artist and a movement facilitator. A company member with EDAM Dance (2006-2013), co-founder of the Behind Open Doors Arts Collective (2004-2013), and independent artist contracted by Battery Opera, Project In Situ (France), and various other companies. She has presented her choreographic works and facilitated structured improvisations throughout Canada and recently undertook an artistic residency as part of Unit Pitt Gallery’s An Exact Vertigo series.

photo of Sasha Kovacs

Sasha Kovacs

Sasha Kovacs will deliver a presentation on her project “Velocities and Pressures: Choreographing Cultural Flows in Suburban Arts Programming.” She holds a PhD from the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. In her 2016-2018 SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship, Kovacs will explore the re-staging of 19th-century Indigenous theatre histories, specifically addressing contemporary representations of E. Pauline Johnson Tekahionwake. She is actively involved in the Toronto arts community, working since late 2015 as the program director for Scarborough Arts (one of the City’s Local Arts Service Organizations). She also is a working actor, dramaturge, and producer, chiefly developing performances with Ars Mechanica, which is a collective of international and interdisciplinary artists. Kovacs’ writing has been published in Canadian Theatre Review, Performance Research and Digital Studies. She currently teaches theatre history at Ryerson’s School of Performance. Kovacs is a laureate for the Performance Studies International Dwight Conquergood Award, the recipient of the Lise Lone Marker Award in Theatre History from the University of Toronto, and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Theatre History Focus Group Debut Panel Award winner.

photo of Shelley Liebembuk

Shelley Liebembuk

“Tracing Language: Bilingual and ‘Nilingüal’ Fluencies in Canadian Latinx performance” is the title of Shelley Liebembuk‘s project. She is a theatre scholar and dramaturge, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at York University, with the Canadian Consortium for Arts and Politics, conducting scholarly and practical research on multilingual dramaturgy in Canadian-Latinx performance. She has completed a doctoral dissertation on the Latina body in performance at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, and works as a dramaturge in Toronto with the Toronto Laboratory Theatre and Aluna Theatre.

The series is sponsored by the following departments and faculties at York University: The Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies, Department of Theatre, Office of the Vice-Provost Academic, Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Department of Visual Art and Art History, Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean, Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas, Osgoode Hall Law School, home of the Disability Law Intensive Program, Department of Dance, and Canada 150 @ York.

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