Ilenna Cheladyn


Convocation Profile: Ileanna Cheladyn

October 05, 2021

"I am a dance artist and scholar. I make movement and text-based art in discrete, devoted, clumsy, and rigorous ways. My research follows the pleasures of improvisation and conceptualizations of embodied agency to foreground practices of care and trust within layered interstices of power, exclusion, and exploitation."

What was the topic of your thesis?

Kind of Like Magic: Embodied Agency Explored Through Dance Practice. My thesis explored how improvised dance, mediated by scores, is a site for agency. I challenged canonical understandings of agency as a "conscious" and "mindful" phenomena by prioritizing kinesthesia (the sense of movement) as a theoretically valuable site for knowledge.

How did you decide on your field of study?

I chose the field of sensory studies and dance studies for the simple reason that, as a dancer, I am concerned about the knowledge my peers and I generate. I am super committed to how the embodied knowledge co-created through dance practices and across dance communities are also entangled in vital discourses of politics, ethics, and empowerment. But also, in having/being a body, I'm curious about how I can write about and share sensed and embodied knowledge in meaningful ways that simultaneously poke at the bear of what is considered "good" or "proper" scholarship. 

What are you up to now?

Currently I am in Davis, California, pursuing my PhD in the sociocultural anthropology program at UC Davis. I have research questions left unanswered!!

What advice would you give to students considering an MA? 

My advice to prospective MA students is this: do what you're enthusiastic about, hold tight to what is important to you (ethically, conceptually, theoretically, etc.), but also be ready to let go and adapt on a dime. Oh. And have some grace with yourself; I am thankful I had a supportive cohort who were there to remind me that grad school is about learning and exploring, not about being perfect. 

Learn more about Ileanna by checking out her website or following her on Twitter.

In the lead-up to our Fall 2021 Convocation, we'll be sharing stories from across our eight faculties about some of our amazing graduands. 

SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation will be held Oct. 5-8. It will be the university’s first in-person convocation since 2019. The ceremonies will be webcast on SFU’s YouTube channel for those wanting to join in from home and around the world. For more information about SFU’s Fall 2021 Convocation, visit Read more about our exceptional graduands here.

Be sure to share your convocation experience on social media by using the #MySFUGrad hashtag.