Laurie McLeod, 63, of Stockbridge, dancer, writer and filmmaker
Laurie McLeod, 63, died Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, at Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center.
Laurie was born Jan. 14, 1956, to Ian and Jane McLeod in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Rosemary Hall High School, then came east to attend Middlebury College. She later obtained her postgraduate degree in movement and dance at the Laban Center in London, England, where she lived for several years and developed close professional and personal ties.
Laurie was the founder and longtime visionary of Victory Girl Productions, the Stockbridge-based home of her innovative choreography, filmmaking and writing work. In addition to myriad well-received local projects at locales as diverse as the site of a defunct furnace and a public pool, Laurie’s work was prominently featured in the New York Times in 2004 for her underwater film starring Chinese actor Luo Yong Wang, which led to projects in Chicago and New York’s inaugural High Line Festival. Her dance company was the first in residence at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, then as now under the leadership of Joe Thompson, a tireless champion of her work.
In addition to being a dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, Laurie made an impact in the lives of Berkshire County kids by visiting classrooms and teaching reading and math through dance via her self-developed character Annie Lavender, for whom she developed a never-realized PBS show. In later years, Laurie was also a writer of self-published how-to guides (including “Make It Happen in 10 Minutes a Day: The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done”), written when her son was a toddler. An abiding and nourishing fixture of her life was the water fitness classes she taught many students over many years at the Kilpatrick Athletic Center and Berkshire South Regional Community Center. Many of her students became dear friends and champions of her artistic work.
Most importantly, Laurie was a devoted mother to her son Javier, 12.
To artist friends, in particular younger artists, she was a truly fierce and vocal champion. She mentored and inspired countless dancers, visual artists, actors and musicians with whom she collaborated. Her unflagging energy, generosity of spirit, and refusal to take “no” as an answer permitted no small amount of otherwise daunted creativity to flourish.
Besides her son, Laurie is survived by her father, Ian McLeod of Brookline; her sister, Kim McLeod of Brookline; her niece, Caitlin Axelrod-McLeod of Malden; and her nephew, Nicholas Axelrod-McLeod and wife Nora of Redondo Beach, California. She was predeceased by her mother, Jane McLeod; and brother, Jeffrey McLeod.
There will be a celebration of Laurie’s life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the Berkshire Medical Center in care of the Roche Funeral Home, 120 Main St., Lenox, MA 01240. To share memories and stories, visit rochefuneralhome.com.