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“A lean, soulful dancer, with a wicked sense of humor and movement style of grace and generosity...”

Originally from Hagerstown, Maryland, Justin Leaf is a performance artist based in Minneapolis.

Justin was a leading dancer with James Sewell Ballet and Minnesota Dance Theatre from 2002 to 2014 and during that time also performed works by John Kelly, Jirí Kylián, George Stamos, and Morgan Thorson, among others. Deborah Jowitt of The Village Voice called Leaf "a fascinating and beguiling dancer—so lanky, loose, and idiosyncratic that his fine-tuned ballet chops take you by surprise."

Since 2006, his work has become increasingly focused on vocal performance and song interpretation, encompassing a range of styles, from jazz and blues to pop-rock and musical theater. Justin has created and performed more than twenty original cabaret shows, weaving together song, dance, and story, often through the persona of Mistress Ginger.

Justin's choreography has been presented by Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, NomadicLIMBS, Junkyard Cabaret, and Collective Unconscious Performance. He currently teaches ballet at Minnesota Dance Theatre & School.


2001 - Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography

2001 - BFA in Dance Performance, The Juilliard School

2007 - Minnesota SAGE Award for Best Performance

2009 - McKnight Fellowship for Dancers, administered by the Southern Theater and funded by the McKnight Foundation

2014 - Mistress Ginger Cooks!: Everyday Vegan Food for Everyone, published by Book Publishing Company

2014 - Next Step Fund Grant, funded by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council