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Awards help build international dimensions of dance

October 20, 2008

Pegge Vissicaro, associate chair of ASU Herberger College Dance, has received two awards – a Fulbright Senior Specialists Award for research and teaching in Portugal, and a Global Engagement Faculty Seed Grant Award from ASU – that will help build the international dimensions of ASU dance research.

Vissicaro, who began her partnership with the educational and artistic community in Portugal in 1996 with her first Fulbright Scholar Award, was in Lisbon May 25 through June 7. She conducted a workshop titled “Global Networking for Cross-Cultural Dance Research” at the Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana. Masters and doctoral dance students explored the use of social networking tools to gather and analyze data for conducting ethnographic dance research.

She also collaborated with colleagues at the university and surrounding area to identify existing art projects with refugees, designing a new research initiative that involves community dance practices with Angolan migrant children.

Vissicaro anticipates working with Angolan youths in the Phoenix area in a similar project. This investigation extends Vissicaro’s work with refugees for the past six years, which examines how dance culture serves as a resettlement strategy. Her current research will be co-presented with her colleague from the Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa at the 11th annual dance and the Child International Conference in Jamaica August 2009.

Fulbright Senior Specialists Awards, created in 2000, provide short-term academic opportunities to prominent U.S. faculty and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at colleges and universities around the world.

Vissicaro’s $10,000 Global Engagement Faculty Seed Grant Award funds her project “Global Networking for Cross-Cultural Dance Research: Strategies for Ethnographic Analysis of Macedonian Roma Dance Culture.”

One aspect of the project brought together students enrolled in ASU’s Critical Language Institute and a scholar who is internationally renowned for her research on the Roms (gypsies) in Skopje, Macedonia.

The scholar, Flagstaff resident Elsie Dunin, has an extensive archive of films, slides and photographs of Macedonian dance, part of the Cross-Cultural Dance Resources Collection that was recently gifted to Herberger College Dance. Dunin provided a 1.15 million endowment to fund a curatorial position to oversee the preservation and management of this significant collection, the largest of its kind in the Southwest.

On July 21, Dunin addressed students in the Melikian Center’s Critical Language Institute via web conference from Zaton, Croatia.

“Her presentation focused on the Rom celebration of Gjurgjovden (St. George’s Day)/ Erdelezi (coming of summer), which takes place from May 5-9. Research to study change and continuity was based on observations and recordings covering four decades (1967-2007),” Vissicaro said. “Elsie delivered her Power Point presentation from Croatia. She had a DSL connection and a MacBook laptop with a built-in camera.” It was simple but effective and a point of departure for exploring other ways to present dance research in the context of language learning.

Vissicaro looks forward to continue collaborating with the Critical language Institute and is negotiating with colleagues at the University of Ss. Kiril and Metodij to bring a Macedonian dance researcher to ASU through the Fulbright Visiting Scholars in 2010 to work with students across the university.

Also, she will be applying for a National Endowment for the Humanities preservation and access grant to digitize the Dunin collection, which will be made available to scholars worldwide. Vissicaro is one of fourteen faculty to receive a Global Engagement Faculty Seed Grant Award this year.