Leralee Whittle is a dance and video artist working in the US, Canada and Europe. She performs instant composition regularly with musician Paul Sprawl in arts venues, homes and festivals. She crafts video and performance for stage, galleries, site-specific locations and internet audiences. Once in awhile she crafts music videos for her favorite musicians. She teaches aesthetic, liberating embodiment and dance composition and contact improvisation as a guest teacher at such venues as Wayne State University, FLOCK, Portland, OR, Counterpulse, San Francisco, Sudstern Jam, Berlin, The Cowels Center, Minneapolis. She collaborated with Nita Little in the performance and research of compositional improvisation 1995-2005 and performed choreography with Anouk van Dijk, Tandy Beal and Scott Wells.
Her work’s been presented internationally in festivals: Dinamiche Scomposte/Teatro di Limonae, Italy, Twin Cities Film Festival, Twin Cities/Montreal Choreographer Exchangeand venues- PWNW, Portland, La Esquina Gallery, Kansas City, Southern Theater, Minneapolis, Starlight Theatre, Terlingua, TX, Urban Culture Project, KC, MO, The 418 Project, Santa Cruz, Ca and Aria, Barcelona.
LeraleeWhittle is a recipient of Project Space Residency, Counterpulse, SF (2017) and a grant from PLRAC, MN (2017), Theatre Bay Area, San Francisco, CA, Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO and Puffin Foundation, New Jersey.
I find parks, gyms, natural habitats or rare buildings I’m compelled to inhabit for time-based creative processes. These “found installation” spaces inspire me to engage in generative dance and aesthetic body-based practices because of their strong visual qualities and fresh dynamics. 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. The collaboration may include acknowledgement of credo or ethos the dance wants to strike harmony with, push off of, play with or counter- allowing humor, creation of minimalist aesthetic or a dance of presence to impregnate the space.
My choreography is 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.
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. I often add a soundtrack. Ultimately, the final video is an interdisciplinary art work.
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 occupiers 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.