Leila was born and raised in Southern California to a family of European artists, her father a graphic designer and photographer and her mother a psychotherapist working with art therapy and as a writer. Dancing was always in her blood, passed to her from her grandmother who was a ballerina in the corps de ballet at Sadlers’ Wells Ballet Company in the 1940s when Margot Fonteyn was a rising star. She went on to train at Trinity Laban where she completed a BA Contemporary Dance Theatre and MA in Performance and was a member of Transitions Dance Company in 2004.
Leila creates work that is high-energy yet nuanced and abstract in its choreography. She draws on personal experiences focusing on themes of identity, gender and the cultural interface. Her work is global, socio-culturally relative and through movement seeks to speak to our very soul of who we are and where we come from.
Leila made her debut at Lilian Baylis in 2008 with iD, a contemporary dance piece mapping graffiti through the body, supported by Blueprint Bursary 2008, Sadler’s Wells, East London Dance and London Youth Dance. Most recently she’s created a full evening work Family Portrait (2015) performing at Greenwich Dance, The Place, Lilian Baylis Studio and Nottingham Contemporary. Her commissions include Another day on (2009) and site specific work Sublime Oasis (2012) for East London Dance; No Landing (2016) for London Contemporary Dance School and Continuum (2017) for Verve Northern School of Contemproray Dance.
She has worked extensively with David Zambrano since 2008 as a student, performer, assistant and tour manager of Soul Project in Senegal in 2010. In 2010 she was one of 50 artists chosen to be a part of 50 days of Flying Low and Passing Through in Costa Rica certifying her in the techniques. Leila has led the development of these techniques in the UK and is Lecturer at London Contemporary Dance School. She has led workshops internationationally in UK, USA, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Sweeden and Lebanon.
As a performer she’s worked with Layla Rosa, Wendy Houston, Lea Anderson, David Zambrano, Crystal Pite and Thomas Lehmen. In collaboration with Upswing she choreographed aerial dance work Loved Up 2009; created large scale outdoor choreography for Kinetika and London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay; commercials for Brave Spark Media; and was associate choreographer with Joseph Mercier and PanicLab forRite of Spring.
In 2013 she began an ongoing collaboration with visual artist Paolo Fiorentini creating Envelop: Body Works, investigating how to bring together visual art and dance to share the same space.
In 2012 in collaboration with Angolan born Visual Artist Isaac Carlos they created Muxima, an Art and Culture Café Lounge located in Bow, which has been awared ‘Best Cafe in East London’ from Grazia London (2014), ‘Best Cafe in Bow’ from TimeOut London 2015 and 2016. The space supports local and international artists by creating a common space to meet, share and develop ideas.