a St. Paul, MN Rondo, native is a dance artist with home art bases in Brooklyn, NY and in Twin Cities, MN. As a dance artist/maker, improviser, performer, director, collaborator, and educator, she is a national award recipient of National Dance Project (2021) , National Performance Network Creation Fund (2020), National Performance Network Development fund (2021), National Performance Network community engagement fund (2021), and National Performance Network Storytelling & Documentation fund (2021); She is a Bessie Award recipient and an inaugural Jerome Hill Foundation Artist Fellow (2019-2021) emphasizing expression of embodied memories from lived experience through extensive study, research, teaching and performance in dance-art. As a creative, she highlights unique individual contributions while digging into collective memory to engage with the world more imaginatively. Her aesthetic encompasses an organic physical/movement hybrid influenced by the African Diaspora: Traditional W. African, Black and African American vernacular/social dance, Improvisation, and Contemporary/Modern technique that is derived from and exchanged across multiple continents.
Parker's earlier beginnings of informal training began with community activists who founded 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 motivated her research of dance forms of the
Sene-Gambian region, Guinea, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire. 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.
As a collaborator she has worked with mentor, Laurie Carlos as well as been curated for Late Nite Series, "non english speaking spoken here" with e.g. Bailey at Pillsbury House + Theater; and is a member of the collective, Skeleton Architecture. Her works were performed at and presented by Pangea World Theatre, Pillsbury House Theater, Center for Performance Research's,' Fall Movement Series', 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, and Women’s Roseville Correctional Facility.
Her professional dance archive includes 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 Ashe Dance ensemble, Morris Johnson Jr., Ron Brown, Uri Sands, Sundance Multiple Performing Arts Company, Marlies Yearby and Rosy Simas Danse.
As an educator, she has led dance classes and workshops in Improvisation, African Diasporan, and Contemporary technique at Hollins University MFA Dance program, Alabama Ballet, TU Dance Center, University of Michigan, Macalester College and Sarah Lawrence College. 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 Café in Brooklyn, NY. She was full-time faculty as lecturer in dance at University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance program 2018 -2020.
As an organizer, She created the initiative, "Moving Dialogue for Non Violence"- a platform that uses dance practice as a catalyst for social change and self-empowerment in partnership with CAMBA at Broadway House Women's Shelter in Brooklyn, NY.
She created Leslie Parker Dance (LPD) Project, LLC as a means to experience dance more inventively and intuitively. LPD Project is a platform to forefront 'Black Space' when creating, making, and directing dances including original works; crystal, smoke n' spirit(s)...which listed top 10 Outstanding dance performances of 2019 by Star Tribune, In Search of Colors premiered at Rariq Center for University Dance Theater (U of MN Theater Arts & Dance) 2019, Crossroads/Gateways Remixed presented by Choreographer's Evening (and curated by Pramila Vasudevan) at Walker Art Center 2018, Bone Womyn Traces in Black presented by The Requisite Movers/Twin Cities in partnership with Brownbody at the Southern Theater 2018, and at Hollins University Theater 2017. Parker was also a co-director of the annual 44th (In The Heart of The Beast) MayDay Tree of Life Ceremony 2018. She collaborated on notable/reputable works, Jimmy & Lorraine: A Musing by Talvin Wilkes 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 2019. Currently, Call to Remember, a collaborative improvisation, is a LPD Project initiative in residence at Walker Art Center