a fascinating and beguiling dancer—so lanky, loose, and idiosyncratic that his fine-tuned ballet chops take you by surprise...
— Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

Justin Leaf is a performance artist and ballet teacher based in Minneapolis. Originally from Hagerstown, Maryland, he graduated from the Juilliard School in 2001 with a BFA in dance performance.

DANCER • Justin was a company member of James Sewell Ballet from 2002 to 2008 and Minnesota Dance Theatre from 2008 to 2014. He has performed works by Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Eliot Feld, John Kelly, Jirí Kylián, José Limón, Egal Perry, George Stamos, Paul Taylor, and Morgan Thorson, among others.

SINGER • As a singer, Justin explores popular song ranging from jazz to pop to theater. His musical collaborators have included Rick Carlson, Lori Dokken, Rachel Holder, and George Maurer. In October 2017, Justin presented a concert featuring the music of Tori Amos' first solo album, Little Earthquakes. He is currently preparing a collection of original songs.

CABARET ARTIST • Since 2006, Justin has presented more than two dozen cabaret shows using popular song as a catalyst for storytelling, often through the persona of Mistress Ginger. Also as Mistress Ginger, Justin authored Mistress Ginger Cooks!: Everyday Vegan Food for Everyone, published by Book Publishing Company in 2014.

CHOREOGRAPHER • Justin received Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography in 2001, and he has been commissioned to choreograph for both dance and theater companies, including Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, and Collective Unconscious Performance, among others.

BALLET TEACHER • Justin is currently the Associate Director at Minnesota Dance Theatre & School, where he teaches ballet and coaches the company. His open advanced ballet classes for adults are Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.


Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography (2001)

Minnesota SAGE Award for Best Performance (2007)

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

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