Dance critic, dramaturge, curator, choreographer and performer
After completing Theatre Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, she made her debut as a dance critic. She was one of the first to make regular contributions on dance to major Polish theatre magazines (Didaskalia, Teatr) as well as foreign magazines, including Berlin's Theater der Zeit, the Israeli Dance Today, and the Prague-based Dance Zone. She has given guest lectures on Polish dance at many international festivals and conferences and on contemporary choreography at universities in Kraków and Poznań (2010-2013).
In 2003, together with Natalia Draganik, she established the dance collective in which she made her debut as a performer. The duet created three dance performances – Whatever You Wish ( 2003), Obcojęzyczność (Foreign Language Speaking, 2005) and Nic (Nothing, 2007) – which demonstrated their unique approach to body movement, described by Jadwiga Majewska as follows:
Their movement is hardly a dance, but it is not an exercise either; their gestures represent the embodiment of rigid behaviours rather than express formal choreography. As a result these minimalistic and extremely precise body movement compositions create an impression of dealing with a sophisticated socio-philosophical study.
Since then, Leśnierowska has regularly performed on stage. She collaborated with Marysia Stokłosa on the The Right Hemisphere (2009) project, and performed solo in productions by other choreographers: in Renata Piotrowska’s Unknown: Seance (2011) and Márta Ladjánszki’s JOSHA (2012). In 2011 she produced and choreographed Reconstruction performed by Aleksandra Borys and Janusz Orlik and (Rooms by the Sea) from the series Exercises in Looking (2014) performed by Aleksandra Borys, Márta Ladjánszki, and Janusz Orlik. In 2014 she was granted the Award of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for co-choreographing Insight.
The Solo Generation. Top Dancers and Choreographers
In 2004 Leśnierowiska established the first regular dance space and choreography development centre in Poland (based in Stary Browar, Poznań) where she runs the performative programme Stary Browar Nowy Taniec (Old Brewery New Dance) in the Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk. The programme was set up as a platform to promote contemporary dance in Poland, especially its avant-garde forms associated with conceptual, experimental choreography, and other performative forms combining visual art, body art, body installation, and performance art.
Old Brewery New Dance includes a festival, a residency programme, productions and presentations, and alternative education programmes and workshops – a lot of activities which have increased its audience and brought many young Polish artists who'd studied abroad in recent years back to Poland. In an interview for European Dancehouse Network, Leśnierowska explained:
I am generally interested in young dance artists who want to become choreographers and next to talent and some necessary predispositions, and are, first of all: open-minded, ready to take artistic risks and dig deep in search of individual voice; also those who stay open to dialogue and reflection (and self-reflection) on the art of making dance. (…) I promote and support talent and hard work and believe (no matter how much it sounds like a truism) that becoming a choreographer is a complex (and often life-long) process… And it is this very process that interests me the most. And to discuss and create the best possible conditions for it – a professional, safe, but also constructively critical environment – I consciously devoted the performative programme of the Art Stations Foundation known as Old Brewery New Dance.
The Old Brewery New Dance programme has a clearly defined character. It is focused on critical dance usually underpinned by strong theoretical reflection, however, not always rightly identified with conceptual choreography. At the same time a series of Old Brewery’s projects went beyond that formula and welcomed artists employing different aesthetics and audiences interested in broadly defined dance theatre. Poznań has a long tradition of the off theatres and is known worldwide for the Malta Festival. The audience had a chance to watch many performances, installations and plays. The festival's visitors are open-minded and focused on the artistic message of the shows, not looking only for a dance and movement itself. In an interview conducted by Agata Siwiak, Leśnierowska said:
This kind of audience becomes an interesting interlocutor, on the one hand extremely demanding, making artist active when discussing their art, but on the other hand giving the artist the sense of security. We meet in Old Brewery to discuss the art of dance, because we all - artists and viewers, do love the art of dance and we want it to be better.
The programme also facilitates building international dance networks, but Leśnierowska perceives the ideas of networking on European level in dance field just as any other tool and admits that:
Polish Contemporary Dance – Awaiting an Explosion of Popularity
In the Polish case, it allowed us to break the isolation of the Polish dance community from the rest of Europe, professionalize methods of research and production, and inspire international (and educational) collaborations. It is also a great tool in promoting Polish dance abroad. For me, it is equally important that through networking I myself have a great chance to learn from more experienced partners and also I can directly engage in general discussion on modes of support and development for today’s dance and choreography.
In an interview with Andreea Capitanescu for WASP – Working Art Space & Production Leśnierowska explains:
For years we have been experiencing in Poland an exodus of the most talented young artists – due to the lack of higher education programs in dance they left the country for international schools and simply had no reason to come back. There was no (and actually still there isn’t) any serious chance for regular professional dance life. The situation is slowly changing, you can now study dance also in the country, but still there is no substantial financial support for local artists (…), no serious infrastructure for dance has been developed (…) In this specific local landscape, establishing a place like our studio in Stary Browar, with its consequent artistic profile and interest in avant-garde choreography, the first regular dance venue and a platform of artistic dialogue, research, creation and choreographic reflection. Such endeavor must have become a bit schocking and with its radical change brought hope for some long-awaited normality to local community as well as to all those that left the country and would like to come back but did not had a real chance nor reason before.
Art Stations Foundation has also launched the Alternative Dance Academy which is a series of one-week researches and workshops held every two months. They invite renowned pedagogues and experts to lead intensive courses for artists from Poland. The culmination of each project is presenting results to the audience. These workshops also let the artists get to know each other and start creative collectives. Some od the experts invited were: Arkadi Zaides, Hooman Sharif, Jozef Fruček, Ria Higler, Chris Haring, Simon Aughterlony, Jonathan Burrows and Michael Schumacher.
One of the crucial initiatives at the Old Berewy is the Residency program launched in 2006. Two years after opening of the dance cetre, Art Stations Foundation started to search for emerging artists and support their on original performances. Each year three artists are given a scholarship to make their solo spectacles. Solo Projekt artists-in-residence list includes so far: Janusz Orlik, Anita Wach, Konrad Szymański, Dominika Knapik, Renata Piotrowska, Marcin Janus and Barbara Bujakowska, Tomasz Bazan, Karol Tymiński, Ramona Nagabczyńska, Małgorzata Haduch, Magda Przybysz, Aleksandra Borys, Anna Nowicka, Rafał Urbacki, Irena Lipińska, Iza Szostak, Aleksandra Ścibor, Marzena Krzemińska, Magda Ptasznik, Maria Zimpel, Agata Siniarska, Baśka Gwóźdź and Korina Kordova.
In 2008 Art Stations Foundation became a founding member of European Dancehouse Network (EDN) and one year later launched, together with 19 other partners, the 4-year multilevel EU modul-dance project. It aims to create optimum conditions for production by artists, dancers and choreographers throughout Europe in order to facilitate their mobility and promote the dissemination of their work. Up to now, the project has supported 52 choreographers and approximately 500 other artists, who've participated in international exchanges (among them, many Poles).
Since 2006 Leśnierowska has curated the section The Old Brewery New Dance at Malta as part of the Malta Festival in Poznań. The festival has already hosted such artists Jonathan Burrows, Boria Charmatz, Yvonne Rainer, Xavier Le Roy and Eszter Salamon. In 2008, in collaboration with Anna Hryniewiecka and Zamek Culture Centre she reactivated the Polish Dance Platform.
In the years 2011-2014 she was a member of the advisory programme board of the Warsaw Music and Dance Institute. Leśnierowska is also one of the curators assocciated in Aerowaves.
In 2013 she was one of the curators organising IDENTITY.MOVE! - Research Platform for Contemporary Dance in the Eastern Belt of the European Union. The program was set to create an international platform enabling young choreographers and dancers to exchange knowledge, inspiration and explore together practical and theoretical issues in contemporary dance. Artists participating in the project are from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia. IDENTITY.MOVE! is coordinated by Goethe Institut Warsaw in cooperation with Centre for Culture Lublin, Obcanske sdruzeni Motus in Prague and the State School of Dance in Athens with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.
Leśnierowska works as an artistic coach of young choreographers in parallel with her own practice as a performer, dramaturge and performer for Polish and international artists (Janusz Orlik, Renata Piotrowska, Arkadi Zaides, Minimetal, Lia Haraki, Márta Ladjánszki, Jurij Konjar and others).
Each God Has its Own Samba – An Interview
Since November 2015, together with Janusz Orlik, Leśnierowska has been following South American traces in the biography of Yanka Rudzka, a dancer and choreographer so far completely unknown in Poland. In Salvador the artist is considered the mother of modern dance – she was the first choreographer to combine modern dance with elements of Afro-Brazilian culture. The Yanka Rudzka Project by Orlik and Leśnierowska engaging Polish and Brazilian dancers facilitates a closer connection between the two dance communities. The play will premiere on 29th April 2016 at the International Vivadança Festival in Salvador.
The Yanka Rudzka Project has been produced with the support of Culture.pl and is part of the major presentation of Polish culture in Brazil.
Yanka Rudzka: Shamaness of Pirouettes
Source: culture.pl, Art Station Foundation, European Dancehouse Network, ed. GS, March 2016