OUR Featured Researcher: Kara Nepomuceno '20

Portrait of Kara Nepomuceno
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Kara Nepomuceno (she/her) is a Dance and Biology major conducting mentored research under Professors Alysia Ramos and Ann Cooper Albright. Her project is titled “Side to Side” - Pangalay codification and performance in Filipino American communities. 

Please describe your project: 

Centering dance practice as research, the performance “Side to Side’ developed from a six month exploration of pangalay codification and performance in Filipino American communities. Through writing and performance, it explored the tensions of transmitting cultural and technical specificity while articulating contemporary concerns about displacement and identity. The piece showed at the Asia Pacific Dance Festival Conference in August 2019.

Why is your research important?

Regional dance performance not only deeply impacts concepts of personal and national identity, but also reconstructs narratives of cultural heritage that mediate the belonging or displacement of populations. While previous research has traced the legacies of different dance traditions in the Philippines and the United States, pangalay as an emerging form in the United States offers new insight into heritage and identity across borders.

What does the process of doing your research look like?

Research can look like observing video recordings of the dance, from performances in both Southeast Asia and the United States, or even trying on the movements in my own body. Research also involves reading literature from other scholars, synthesizing ideas and working things out in conversation or through a combination of writing and movement.

In what ways have you showcased your research?

Preceded by a brief introduction, the performance showed at the Asia Pacific Dance Festival Conference at McCarthy Hall lawn in August 2019. It was followed by a critical talkback and discussion.

How did you get involved in research? What drove you to want to seek out research experiences in college?

Professor Alysia Ramos helped me to get involved with research, first through the course Contemporary Global Dance, and later by introducing me to Professor Cooper Albright and by encouraging me to apply for the Asia Pacific Dance Festival Conference.

What is your favorite aspect of the research process?

One of my favorite aspects of the research process is connecting with other artists and scholars, and learning about their own relationships to regional dance transmission and performance. I really enjoy hearing about the impact of dance in their individual experiences and in their greater community.

How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project? How has it impacted you as a researcher?

Professor Cooper Albright helped me to wield language and movement in mutually beneficial ways, allowing the process of writing and dancing to shape and direct each other equally. She helped me to clarify my academic writing and take greater risks with my argument and organization.

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic
development?

This research connected me to a network of supportive and inspiring people and has definitely informed my aspirations after Oberlin. I am excited to further study regional dance performance through a post-graduate fellowship in Southeast Asia, with plans to collaborate with community-based performing-arts organizations in the region.

Read about more of OUR featured researchers

Kara Nepomuceno