Dr. Ilya Vidrin is a research-practitioner situated at the nexus of performing arts, ethics, and interactive media. Born into a refugee family, Ilya grew up navigating the nuances of cultural expectations, language barriers, and diverging political ideologies. This experience of code-switching fuels Ilya's research and artistic practice to examine social ethics in physical interaction, including intimate labors of care, cultural competence, and social responsibility. Based in Boston, Ilya is Assistant Professor of Creative Practice Research, Core Faculty in the Institute for Experiential Robotics, and director of the Partnering Lab, a research platform for investigating embodied ethics and through shared movement.
Ilya has been featured at TEDxProvidence, selected as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" (2022) with close collaborator Jessi Stegall, and invited as a guest artist at the National Choreographic Center, BallettxSchwerin, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, New Museum (NYC), Jacob's Pillow, AREA Gallery, National Parks Service, Harvard ArtLab, The Walnut Hill School, Interlochen Arts Academy, MIT Media Lab, Le Laboratoire, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), North Atlantic Ballet, Ballet Des Moines, and the Harvard Dance Program under Jill Johnson and visiting mentor Francesca Harper. Ilya has written for Dance Magazine, Psyche Magazine, the Boston Art Review, Journal of Performance Research, and has presented internationally at the Conference for Creative Computing, International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, Movement and Computing, Performance Philosophy Biennale, Dance Studies Association, and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others.
Drawn to the arts, Ilya began formal dance training at the Boston Ballet School at the age of nine, and has invested time in the study of music (piano&clarinet), as well as social partner dancing, Fusion Dance, Latin/Ballroom, Jewish folk, Argentinian Tango, Horton modern technique, and contact improvisation. Ilya holds teaching certifications in experiential anatomy based on proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation with Irene Dowd, Mat Pilates, and Restorative Yoga. Ilya has worked with Vibeke Toft, Wendy Whelan, Nancy Stark Smith, Shura Baryshnikov, and members of the Royal Swedish Ballet, Berlin Staatsballett, Boston Ballet, Erick Hawkins Company. In recent years, Ilya has collaborated with a diverse range of creative professionals across media, including award-winning Japanese Butoh dancers Mutsumi Neiro, designer Çaca Yvaire, violinist Daniel Kurganov, singer-songwriter Alec Hutson, and New York-based choreographers Brian Brooks, Raja Feather Kelly, and Valeria Solomonoff. As a dancer, Ilya has performed works by Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Dwight Rhoden, Jill Johnson, Ohad Naharin, Sidra Bell, Lorraine Chapman, Jim Viera, and Brian Brooks, among others. From 2011-2020 Ilya directed the Reciprocity Collaborative, a multidisciplinary platform supporting collaboration for a network of creative professionals.
Alongside an artistic practice, Ilya pursued undergraduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience and Rhetorical Theory at Northeastern University. Ilya completed three years of intensive clinical research training in the Neurology Department at Beth Israel Medical Deaconess Center, with a focus on non-pharmacological therapies for cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders. Ilya went on to graduate school at Harvard University, earning a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Human Development and Psychology. At Harvard, Ilya worked on experimental research projects investigating cognitive models of creative practice and empathy, including biofeedback technology, Therapeutically Active Digital Medicine, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and Somatic Enrichment. Focusing deeper on ethics in creative practice, Ilya completed a practice-based PhD funded by the Centre for Dance Research in the United Kingdom under Sarah Whatley, Scott Delahunta, and Sara Reed. Ilya is an Associate of the Signet Society for the Arts at Harvard, and a professional member of the Dance Studies Association and Association for Moral Education, among others. Ilya is the recipient of numerous grants, including a Presidential Grant from the Knight Foundation, two Erasmus Fellowships (Bern, Switzerland and Berlin Germany), Derek Bok Fellowship in Literacy, Media, and Visualization (Harvard University), Visiting Scholar at the Davis Center (Harvard University), Laban Conservatoire Dance Research Fellowship (London, UK), Centre for Global Engagement Grant (Sapporo, Japan), Byron Fellowship, Live Arts Boston Grant (2018+2021), and the Massachusetts Cultural Council Choreographic Fellowship.