Kate Spanos – Research

November 2017: I was a featured researcher on the new website Academic Stories: “Turning a Passion for Dance into a PhD” by Sarah Binns. Check it out!

Postdoctoral Fulbright
I was awarded a postdoctoral Fulbright U.S. Scholar award for my project “The Frevo Tradition and Pernambucan Cultural Identity in Recife, Brazil.” Starting in January 2018, I will be based at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife for six months to study frevo dance and music in Brazil. The project is an extension of my dissertation research, which focused on similar themes in dance, music, and festival on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

PhD
I earned my PhD in Dance & Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. My dissertation is entitled: “Dancing the Archive: Rhythms of Change in Post-Volcano Identities on Montserrat, West Indies.” My research investigated the role of dance, music, and festival performances in the formation of national and cultural identities on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

Montserrat (the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”) has historical ties to Ireland and performances of “Irishness” there differ from elsewhere in the world, especially during the island’s annual St. Patrick’s Festival. My project related to larger questions about hybridity in African and Irish rhythms, migration, diaspora formation, and transnational histories. Read about my fieldwork research experiences on Montserrat.

My research interests include ethnomusicology/ethnochoreology, national performance, oral and embodied histories, diaspora studies, movement analysis, and Irish, African, and Caribbean studies.

Montserrat national dress

Master’s
I received my Master’s degree in Traditional Irish Dance Performance from the University of Limerick‘s Irish World Academy of Music & Dance.

I worked in a variety of percussive dance styles including traditional Irish dance (sean-nós and North Kerry/Molyneaux), festival style Irish dance from Northern Ireland, contemporary Irish dance, tap, flamenco, clogging, and body percussion. My thesis performances included both solo and ensemble work, including my solo called “Color Play” about synesthesia and colored rhythms.

Bachelor’s
I received my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in Cognitive Science, with a minor in Computer Science and a concentration in Neuroscience.

I worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant in the Levy Lab on neural networks, and also as a research assistant in the Kubovy Lab (Perception), where I researched the perceptual phenomenon called synesthesia (read Journal of Vision abstract and UVA’s Arts & Sciences article).