A Rondo, St. Paul, MN native, contemporary dance artist with home art bases in Brooklyn, NY and in Twin Cities, MN. As a dance artist/maker, improviser, performer and educator with an archive of embodied memories from 34 years of study, research, teaching and performing dances, her aesthetic is an organic physical fusion of improvisation, hip hop/street, Funk, Blues, Jazz, W. African and Contemporary/Modern dance.
Parker's earlier beginnings of informal training began with the Lou Wiley High Steppers (Rhythm & Drill team) and Rainbow Children's Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN. Growing up in the Rondo community rooted her in socially engaged art and inspired research of dance forms from Senegal, Guinea, Ghana, and Ivory Coast - encompassing contemporary and sacred practices of the African Diaspora. She holds a BFA in Choreography and Modern dance technique from Esther Boyer College of Music & Dance (Temple University) and a MFA in dance from Hollins University in partnership with the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and The Dresden Frankfurt ;Company in Frankfurt, Germany.
Parker's credits include performing works by Professor Nii Yartey of Ghana University, Dr. Kariamu Welsh of Kariamu & Company: Traditions, The Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble, Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel performance group, Tania Isaac Dance, Errol Grimes, Wendy Jehlen's Anikaya Dance Company, Spirit of Ase Dance ensemble, Morris Johnson, Ron Brown, Uri Sands, Sundance Multiple Performing Arts Company, Marlies Yearby and Rosy Simas Danse.
She is a member of the Skeleton Architecture collective and a 2017 Bessie award winner for Outstanding Performer in Danspace Project's Platform 2016: Lost and Found's "skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds",curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa.
As an inaugural Jerome Hill Foundation Artist Fellow 2019-2021, her original contemporary work crystal, smoke n' spirit(s)...is listed as top 10 Outstanding dance performances of 2019 by Star Tribune. Additional credits include, In Search of Colors 2019 premiere at Rariq Center for University of Minnesota Theater Arts & Dance; Crossroads/Gateways Remixed presented by Choreographer's Evening (curated by Pramila Vasudevan) at Walker Art Center 2018; Bone Womyn Traces in Black presented as part of The Requisite Movers/Twin Cities in partnership with Brownbody at the Southern Theatre 2018, and Hollins University Theater 2017; co-director of the annual 44th (In The Heart of The Beast) MayDay Tree of Life Ceremony 2018.
Leslie Parker Dance Projects - A foundation/platform to create, make and direct dances - is in residence at Pillsbury House Theater 2019-2020.
In 2019, Parker choreographed highly notable/reputable works, Jimmy & Lorraine: A Musing by Talvin Wilkes and directed by Brian Jennings at Pillsbury House Theater and Collidescope 4.0 adventures in Pre and Post Racial America by Ping Chong and Talvin Wilkes at Rariq Center, University of Minnesota Theater Arts & Dance.
Her dance work was presented by Center for Performance Research's "Fall Movement Series", Late Nite Series, "non english speaking spoken here" created by Laurie Carlos, David Parker's "Soaking WET" (West End Theater) Series, New Dance Alliance's, "Performance Mix Festival29", New York Live Arts Fresh Tracks 2013-14 Artist in Residence, a collaboration with Nia Love’s Let The Eagles Scream at Dance Theater Workshop's Studio Series, HarlemStage's EMoves13, WOW Café Theater, Movement Research at Judson Church, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center's "PEEKS“ and 38th annual "Souls of our Feet: People of Color" dance festival, The Painted Bride Arts Center (PA), and Women’s Roseville Correctional Facility (MN).
Parker has led classes and workshops in improvisation, African Diasporan, and Contemporary technique at Hollins University Dance program, Alabama Ballet, TU Dance Center, and University of Michigan. Additional teaching credits include Temple University as a visiting guest artist for Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Pangea World Theatre, Mark Morris Dance Center, Dance New Amsterdam, Gibney Dance Center, Zenon Dance Company and School, Carleton College, NY public Schools, St. Paul public schools, and was a leading collaborator in designing the dance program for Penumbra Theatre's Summer Institute Artist Activist program 2006-2010. She is a teaching artist for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Brooklyn Art's Council and Bailey's Cafe in Brooklyn, NY. Currently, she is lecturer at University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance.
She is creator of the initiative, "Moving Dialogue for Non Violence"- a platform that uses dance practice as a catalyst for social change in partnership with CAMBA at Broadway House Women Shelter in Brooklyn, NY.