Leralee Whittle is a dance and video artist working in the US, Canada and Europe. She makes work in theaters, galleries, living rooms and public sites. She performs dance often with musician Paul Sprawl. She collaborated with Nita Little in research and improvisation performance 1995-2005 + danced choreography for Anouk van Dijk, Tandy Beal and Scott Wells in the Bay Area.
She’s presented work at Dinamiche Scomposte, Italy, Twin Cities Film Festival, Twin Cities/Montreal Choreographer Exchange, PWNW, Portland, La Esquina Gallery, Kansas City, Southern Theater, Minneapolis, UCP, KCMO, and Aria, Barcelona.
Whittle is the recipient of a public art commission through Art and Creative Place Making in Mankato, MN (2018), an installation commission for Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City (2018), Project Space Residency, Counterpulse, SF (2017) and grants from PLRAC, MN (2017), KU Spencer Museum, Lawrence, KS (2011) and Puffin, NJ (2011) Theatre Bay Area, San Francisco, CA (2009).
She guest teaches at such venues as Wayne State University, Performance Works NW and FLOCK, Portland, OR, Counterpulse, San Francisco, Sudstern Jam, Berlin and The Cowels Center, Minneapolis.
Artist Statement || Video
I find parks, gyms, natural habitats or rare buildings I’m compelled to inhabit for time-based creative processes. These “found installations” inspire me to generate dances and body-based videos. Besides their visual appeal, these non-art spaces often provide an exciting immediacy in the form of unanticipated interactions with people, things, sound and context. I also find meaning in the social practice aspect of engaging publicly in creative practice. I shoot video of choreographic collaborations between myself (as a relational artist) and the “found installations”. Then I re-work the footage in post-production with editing, colorization and other effects, so the experiential, phenomenological and compositional aspects of the collaboration are further illuminated. Choreography happens through a relationship between embodiment research and what is interesting about the physical qualities or perceived phenomena in the space. There may be a strong intuition to engage in embodiment practices that work to de-colonize the body, imagination and even the social space. Inhabiting un-orthodox spaces for art making offers new potentials beyond my own concepts and practice. I’m drawn to see the meaning in how the space was left by others, as I allow a creative process to be supported. While strong visual elements are key in choosing a particular “found installation” there may be music or other sounds present that coax a dance. Objects or contraptions arranged by previous occupants may activate an exploration of materiality in dance. Each space helps me choreograph and in this way solo compositions are always relational (never quite solo). Sometimes other people are engaged in prescribed activities or conversely, there’s a wonderful absence of the events usually assigned to these spaces. I am free to receive both kinds of inspiration through the interaction of social forces or through conjuring, perceiving, identifying and tracking the interplay between heightened senses, an embodied imagination and a contextual, physical environment.