by Ally Van Deuren
What do you get when you cross a Rockette with pom-poms? Meet Leslie Miller, former Radio City Rockette and professional dancer who is now coaching the Chadwick Cheerleaders and Dance Company.
From the second she jumped up excitedly when she was introduced at the assembly on the first day of school, the Chadwick community surely got a “kick” out of her, pun intended.
Hailing from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Coach Miller grew up in musical theatre and dance and was on her school’s pep squad in high school.
Miller has many new ideas and goals for the future of the cheer squad.
“One change will be that the cheerleaders will support all teams and they will be seen as the spirit ambassadors of the school,” Miller said.
At the homecoming halftime show, under her direction, the cheerleaders performed a medley of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” as well as “We’ve Got the Funk,” in collaboration with the Chadwick Dance Company.
“The cheer team has exceeded all of my expectations for their enthusiasm and work ethic,” Miller said. “I look forward to a very exciting season with them and I hope to see fans joining the excitement by participating in the cheers along with the cheerleaders!”
One of her many goals has yet to be put into action, but is currently on the drawing board.
“We are toying with the idea of calling [the cheerleaders] the ‘Wickettes,’” says Miller, a suggestion from Head of the Upper School Mark Wiedenmann.
From helping the cheerleaders bake cupcakes for various sports teams, to choreographing three full dances for the homecoming halftime show, Coach Miller has shown that her continuing efforts with the cheer team have matched her initial enthusiasm.
Not only is she experienced in the cheerleading department; she is also well-versed in every form of dance including modern, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, tap, musical theatre, Fosse and more. She fits the job requirements easily as dance teacher and choreographer in the performing arts department.
After graduating from high school, Miller earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in dance from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
She then moved to New York, where two dancers from Alvin Ailey American Ensemble invited her to start a company called “Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company,” often seen on “So You Think You Can Dance!”
She has also danced with smaller companies like Doug Verone and Dancers, Impulse Dance Co. and understudied with Ballet Theatre of Boston. She has worked around the world as a jazz and musical theatre performer with shows in Monte-Carlo, Tokyo, New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boston and Naples, Florida.
After ending her career with the Rockettes, Miller went back to graduate school to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in dance at Smith College. She has been pursuing dance and choreography ever since.
One of the values Miller is known for is commitment. She runs her rehearsals like she would in the professional world of dance and instills some of her own life lessons into her classes whenever she can.
“You get out what you put in and there is no greater feeling than success after hard work, right?”