Bronx native Le’Andra LeSeur, who is a multidisciplinary artist known for video, installation, photography and painting, was recently dubbed an artist in residence at a film festival in NYC.
In April, ALL ARTS, the multimedia platform covering visual art, music, theater, dance, film and literature, launched its new ALL ARTS Artist in Residence festival series with innovative films from four rising young New York City-based artists, including LeSeur. ALL ARTS is an arts and culture media provider created by The WNET Group.
LeSeur’s movie, “There is no movement without rhythm,” explores body and spiritual liberation in the music of the African Diaspora through a collage of performances, artist conversations and abstract visuals.
“My project is all about rhythm and sound, and the way our body responds in movement to these things,” she told ALL ARTS. “I am referencing sounds present in Gnawa music and also dissecting how those sounds have become present in what we know today as Black house music, gospel music and jazz and blues.
Join artist Le’Andra LeSeur (@ellechien) in an exploration of liberation and spirituality in the music of the African diaspora, featuring original choreography with music by @mamafoundation for the Arts choir and DJ MUSE(O)FIRE. https://t.co/2zuBOH4Ddz pic.twitter.com/oGvxV0Ur62
— ALL ARTS (@AllArtsTV) April 12, 2022
LeSeur, 32, lived in Pelham Parkway until she was 12 years old, but her path to arts and media is not a typical one. Hoops was her first love. She began playing at age 6 and was instantly hooked.
At age 12 she left the Boogie Down and relocated to Atlanta with her mom, Patricia Parson. She landed a scholarship to play basketball at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. But, her career ended when she tore her ACL after her junior year . Her plans to play professionally overseas were ruined.
LeSeur recovered, but her knee was never the same.
“Still to this day if I play my knee swells up like a balloon,” she told the Bronx Times.
As a freshman she got into a program where she documented her year via video, and this inspired LeSeur to put all of her energy into art.
She took classes on digital photography, design, editing and more. While she still loved hoops, LeSeur was now focused on using photography to tell stories.
“I was still involved in watching the sport, but I didn’t play it at all,” she said. “I knew it was a past life.”
According to LeSeur, many of the photographers she was learning about in school were not Black, so she was inspired even more to pursue this as a career.
She eventually met a friend who was a filmmaker and would ask her questions about editing, lighting, techniques and more. Around 2015 she began exclusively working with video and describes her work as non-traditional films that don’t necessarily have a beginning middle and ending and are only seen in art galleries and institutions.
When ALL ARTS approached her about the Artist in Residence program she immediately jumped at the opportunity. While “There is no movement without rhythm,” came out in the summer of 2021, she is hopeful more people get a chance to view it now.
According to LeSeur, her work focuses primarily on my body as a starting point in contemplating themes such as Black grief and joy, the experience of invisibility, and what it means to take up space as a queer Black woman.
“I think art holds such a high level of importance, especially in today’s world,” she said to ALL ARTS. “We need art to imagine what exists beyond our everyday lives, and through that imagining, we can work towards creating new solutions to problems and also opening the dialogue around how we support one another. Art for me has been such a beautiful way to connect to others but also to connect to myself. It has changed my perception on so much in regards to life time and time again. It is something that exists beyond what we know, and that is something I feel will help us continue to grow and evolve.”
LeSeur, who now lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, credits a lot of her success to April Maxey, a friend who is a videographer, her mom and her best friend, Anika Rivera. She added that although she hasn’t lived in the Bronx in 20 years, the borough is still quite important to her.
“The Bronx holds a special place in my heart,” she said.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes