“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 danced works by John Kelly, Jirí Kylián, Morgan Thorson, and George Stamos, 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 presented more than two dozen original productions that weave together song, dance, and storytelling, 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.
AWARDS, HONORS, & MILESTONES:
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