'Brown bag: Career trajectories beyond academia’

  • Tuesday, May 31, 2022
    2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

In this Brown bag event focussing on professional trajectories, we welcome three former WACD graduate students working in different fields to speak about their practice since leaving the department. The event will consist of a panel discussion led by the three alumni giving insights on their professional trajectories and what the WACD grad community might expect when they move onto the next phase of their careers, especially those who are interested in exploring options outside academia.

The event will take place on May 31st from 2-3 pm PST.

Zoom Link: https://ucla.zoom.us/j/97328124669?pwd=WExOYi91Rmw3UVdsV2JzTndMbXhQQT09

The participants are:

  • Elaine Sullivan, Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Metropolitan
    Museum of Art working on the renovation of the galleries of the arts of
    Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Allison Wyper director of Rhizomatic Arts
  • Shweta Saraswat, a Los-Angeles based nonprofit development professional and Kathak dancer, teacher, and scholar.

Participants Bios:

Elaine Sullivan

Elaine Sullivan is the Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral curatorial fellow for the arts of sub-saharan Africa in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, and will be starting as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Johannesburg in the fall. She earned her PhD in Culture and Performance in 2020 from the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on historical and contemporary arts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with special attention paid to how such arts are presented in museums.


Allison Wyper

Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary performance artist Allison Wyper (MFA, 2011) founded Rhizomatic Arts in 2014 to provide customized design services, professional coaching, training, and community to help creative people work independently, not alone. Rhizomatic Studio, the creative wing of Rhizomatic Arts, produces socially-engaged, collaboratively-oriented performances and workshops in public and private spaces. Since 2017, she has also worked at the Center for Cultural Innovation as Artists Knowledge Manager, in charge of professional development trainings and resource sharing.

Dr. Shweta Saraswat

"Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Shweta Saraswat is a nonprofit development professional and Kathak dancer/educator. She completed her Ph.D. in Culture and Performance in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA in 2019, where her ethnographic research focused on the relationship between diasporic identity and Kathak dance practice in Los Angeles and London. This dissertation work, which interrogated how the formal qualities of Kathak dance have interacted over time with the material, social, and political conditions of transnationalism to simultaneously encourage and repress flexible identities among dancers, sprang directly from Shweta’s lifelong involvement with Kathak dance in a distinctly diasporic setting.

Shweta has presented both dance work and academic work at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, Madison Square Garden (performing with Guru Birju Maharaj ji’s troupe), Academia Sinica in Taipei, the University of London, the Getty Museum, the Dance Studies Association annual conference, and Cal Arts. On the academic side, Shweta has led seminars and studio classes touching on techniques of movement analysis, rasa theory and abhinaya improvisation, classical dance history in Bollywood, the historical development of the sacred and the secular in Kathak dance, Bollywood bricolage as post-colonial resistance, and the tension between flexibility and fixity in both Kathak dance technique and in formulations of Indian national identity. Shweta is also a full-time cultural worker—she recently completed 4 years of service as Media and Development Manager for the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, a statewide arts nonprofit serving the folk and traditional arts field of California, and is about to start a new position as Development Manager for the research and advocacy organization Children Now. Shweta has served on grant panels for the California Arts Council, and recently published an essay on British-Bangladeshi artist Akram Khan for the 2nd edition of “50 Contemporary Choreographers” by Routledge. Her latest writing will be published in the coming months as part of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts' upcoming national report "Tending the Taproot: Opportunities to Support the Folk & Traditional Arts in the United States."

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