Leo Ryan


Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama Degree: B.A. Dance, French, and Art History, University of Alabama Leo Ryan is a movement artist who has trained in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and rhythm tap. Leo is a diverse dancer and choreographer whose work is interdisciplinary. Most recently located in Oregon, they choreographed and performed in Beaverton's Ten Tiny Dances, a selective site-specific showcase of work in 4' by 4' spaces. They were also a featured member of The Holding Project company. Leo's current focus is on developing a movement language through a lens of Southern queerness. Since graduating, Leo has focused on moving away from traditional codified dance techniques while leaning into improvisation and authentic movement. They have also been a dance and movement educator for 17 years, most recently teaching for Portland Public Schools’ SUN Schools program and the non-profit organization, The Aspire Project. When not dancing, they are sewing and creating slow fashion. Why Duke University? “I chose this dance MFA because it will allow me the opportunity to explore embodiment across multiple disciplines. I want a safe space to explore my transness through movement, and I believe Duke will grant me that. I'm also looking forward to working with Duke's incredible dance faculty and my impressive cohort.” M.F.A. Research Leo hopes to create meaningful work while at Duke, researching queerness and somatic experiences via Southern landscapes and culture. They're excited about potential site-specific performances, installation art, and collaborations with other dance, visual, and audio artists. At the end of their program, Leo hopes to be creating multimedia dance experiences and installations that showcase the power of queerness.