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Our Staff

Meet our awesome staff! Each staff member goes through a lengthy training process, so you know that your child is in the best, most qualified hands. Our teachers have extensive backgrounds in their fields and outgoing personalities focused on making the classes engaging and exciting for the students.

We can't wait for you to meet them!

Blacksburg Teachers & Staff Anchor
Heather Leeper

Blacksburg & Roanoke Director & Owner

Heather Leeper is the owner and creator of Little Leapers and its unique curriculum. Heather Leeper opened her first classes in 2012 at the YMCA with three instructors; Little Leapers has since grown to four studios and 29 staff and instructors, with 500 students and 75 classes weekly. Leeper, who studied dance for over 20 years under NYC Ballet esteemed alumni, was also a professional cheerleader and choreographer and is an active member in the community, offering student scholarships for free classes, as well as educational programming for multiple school systems, including the programs at the Moss Arts Center. She founded “Be Kind,” a community-wide anti-bullying awareness campaign uniting businesses and organizations in the area to encourage kindness. “My passion is not just for teaching young girls/boys dance,” Leeper says. “It’s about building the next leaders of our community. ...This is incorporated into each one of my classes to build strong, smart, brave and tenacious individuals.” 

Heather has studied dance for over 20 years. She trained in Saratoga, NY under New York City Ballet esteemed alumni; Michael Steele, Olga Kostritzky, Deborah Wingert, and Garielle Whittle. She also trained under Darlene Myers of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company at the Myers School of Dance, and performing with the Northeast Ballet. 

Heather comes from a long line of dancers, including her grandmother who graduated from the Performing Arts High School in New York (Remember 'FAME'?) where she graduated with such prestigious classmates as Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Heather has performed with various companies including the New York City Ballet, Saratoga City Ballet (soloist), Ballet Regent, Northeast Ballet, Burklyn Ballet, Blacksburg Ballet, Albany Berkshire Ballet, and the Dance Company at Virginia Tech. While living in Washington, DC, Heather was a professional cheerleader for the NHL Washington Capitals, MLB Washington Nationals, MLL Chesapeake Bayhawks, and was a finalist for the NFL Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. She also was the choreographer for the Washington Nationals Dug Out Dancers. 

Besides working as a full time instructor and director of Little Leapers, Heather has been an active member of the Chamber of commerce and has an integral organizer for NRV Leadership's Arts Day 2017-2019. In addition Heather has spoke on many arts and entrepreneurship panels including for Virginia Tech, Radford University, and the Virginia Governor's school.


Heather began teaching at the age of 18, and has successfully created and run various dance groups and companies including the McLean High School Varsity, JV, and Middle School Dance Teams, and Little Leapers & LEAP Performing Arts Academy.

Dancing has always been Heather's passion and being able to share that with her students is among her most rewarding endeavors. Check out her awards and recognitions!

Miss Krista

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Pointe, LEAP Pre-Pro Director


Krista came to Little Leapers and Leap Performing Arts Academy in 2019 with several years of dance training and experience. She is classically trained in ballet as her main area of focus but has also trained in other genres of dance including jazz, contemporary and modern.

Krista trained with The New Jersey School of Ballet and performed in several classical ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, as well as several original productions with The New Jersey Ballet Company as a junior member. As a summer intensive student, Krista studied with The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and attended Radford University, as a college student, where she had the honor of performing such roles as the Sugarplum Fairy Pas de deux and the Snow Queen in their production of The Nutcracker. In 2005, Krista had the opportunity to travel to Glasgow, Scotland to audition for the Scottish National Ballet. In addition to her Bachelor of Science degree from Radford University, Krista holds a Master of Education degree in School Counseling from Liberty University.

When she is not teaching, Krista loves spending time with her family and dogs! The biggest joy in teaching for Krista is witnessing the growth and many successes of all of her students in and out of the dance studio!

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Miss Caitlin

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Pointe, Pas de Deux

Caitlin began her training when she was 8 years old.  She graduated from Butler University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. She danced professionally for 12 years with the Minnesota Ballet, Manassas Ballet Theatre, and the Roanoke Ballet Theatre.​​  Caitlin enjoyed dancing lead roles in Paquita, The Nutcracker and Giselle among others. 


Caitlin has been teaching at Little Leapers since 2014, and she loves being able to share her passion and joy for dance with others (including her daughter who is usually at the studio as well). When she is not dancing, she enjoys hiking and exploring different parks with her family.



(Photo credit: Laura White)

Mr. Will

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Boys Ballet, Pas de Deux

Will danced professionally for 15 years.  He has been teaching for 13 years and currently teaches Men's Ballet, and Partnering at Little Leapers and LEAP Performing Arts Academy. Will has been a wonderful addition to our team and an asset to growing our fantastic boys program. Some noteworthy companies he has danced for are: The Albany Berkshire Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Montgomery Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Manassas Ballet, and Roanoke Ballet Theatre. He met his wife Caitlin (who is also one of our fantastic teachers at Little Leapers!) while dancing in northern Virginia and their daughter now joins them while teaching.  In 2023, Will retired as a professional dancer.  When he is not choreographing or teaching he enjoys baking and watching "The Great British Baking Show”. His favorite ballet is "The Concert" by: Jerome Robbins.  

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Miss Claire

Blacksburg Studio

Tap, Hip-Hop, Jazz, LEAP Company Director 

Claire is from Laurel, MD, where she competed with Backstage Dance Studio for over 10 years. After graduating high school, she studied Biochemistry at Virginia Tech. During her Freshman year, Claire was a member of the school's dance team, the HighTechs. She graduated in 2023 with her Bachelor's and is currently working towards a Master’s in Public Health. Claire’s favorite style is tap, but she loves teaching jazz, hiphop, and lyrical/contemporary as well. She has been teaching at Little Leapers since the Summer of 2021, and has been the Director of LEAP Company since 2022. 

Miss Rylie

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Pre-Pointe, Pointe, LEAP Pre-Pro Assistant 

Rylie Gibson has been dancing since she was 5 years old at a small studio in Roanoke, Virginia. At the age of 10 she started taking classes at The Dance Center of Southwest Virginia Ballet, now Star City School of Ballet. She was a Junior company member with Southwest Virginia Ballet in 2014 and a Senior company member 2015-2020. She's trained in Ballet, Pointe, Pas de Deux, modern, contemporary, character, and jazz. She's performed in productions like The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Flower festival in Genzano, Cinderella, New works, and had the opportunity to perform with the Richmond ballet. She started teaching at LEAP performing arts academy in 2022. Her specialty focus is Ballet and Pointe work.

Miss Richelle

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop

Richelle began her dance training in Philadelphia at the age of three. After moving to Virginia, she began studying at the Dance Arts Center under the direction of Vikki Rimmer. While majoring in Psychology at Virginia Tech, Richelle became a member of the Dance Company of Virginia Tech. She has attended numerous workshops and taken Master Classes with a number of instructors including H.L. Tate of the Joffrey Ballet and international teacher and choreographer, Lea Darwin.

Richelle has over 20 years of teaching experience and has choreographed award winning routines for studios and performance groups. Additionally, she has worked for Montgomery County Schools as a choreographer and a cheerleading coach. When she’s not teaching, she works as a Case Manager for juvenile offenders in Montgomery County, and enjoys reading and spending time with her daughter, family, and friends.

Richelle began teaching at Little Leapers in 2013 and loves sharing her passion for dance with children, especially her daughter Aralyn. “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once…” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Miss Isabelle "Izzy"

Blacksburg Studio

Ballet, Tap

Izzy has been dancing for fourteen years and has been with Little Leapers since the age of seven. She is trained in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, and contemporary with training from broadway performers and the excellent staff at Little Leapers and the Leap Performing Arts school. She found a love for teaching at the age of fifteen and has never looked back. She is so excited to share her passion for dance with the young students at Little Leapers. While she is not teaching, she is a student at Virginia Tech studying Exercise and Health Science. She loves singing and performing, playing piano, drinking coffee, and watching funny movies with her family!

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Miss Jane

Roanoke Studio

My Little Shadow, Fairy Tale Ballet, Little Prima Ballerina, Ballet 1

Jane Crawford grew up in Fairfax, Virginia where she started dancing at the age of 3. She has studied many styles of dance from ballet, tap, jazz to contemporary, poms and hip hop. Jane has taken master classes with The Tap Dogs, Ronald K. Brown company and Riverdance Tappers. Jane is a graduate of Christopher Newport University, where she was a member of the University's dance team, as well as holding a leadership role as Captain. She continued to study dance in college, taking collegiate level classes in ballet, jazz and tap, as well as choreographing competition pieces for both her team as well as for her home dance studio, all while pursuing her degree in English. 


Jane is married with three children and resides in Roanoke, Va. She has taught dance for 15 years, choreographing award winning pieces both specialty choreography (solos, duets and trios) as well as group routines in both local and national competitions. Jane has been a public school teacher and taught both pre-k and High School English, as well as Elementary Special Education. Jane is so excited that her family has chosen Roanoke, Va. to settle down in and has found Little Leapers as her and her daughter's studio family! She is excited to continue to be a part of the success and growth of Little Leapers and looks forward to seeing what the future holds for the Little Leaper Family! 

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Miss Andi Grace

Roanoke studio

Teacher in training / Class Assistant

Andi-Grace has been performing since the age of four and is a current sophomore at Salem
High School. She has performed professionally with both Virginia Children’s Theatre and Mill
Mountain Theatre. She is a part of the Mill Mountain Theatre Dance Conservatory and Musical
Theatre Conservatory and in 2023 was a member of the Youth Professional Ensemble at
Virginia Children’s Theatre. She competed at Musical Theatre Competitions of America with Bay
Area Performing Arts and received 1st place in 2021. Andi-Grace danced in both the LEAP
performing arts Nutcracker 2023 (Party Mom/Snow Corps) and the Holiday Spectacular
(Noel/Leapette). She is very grateful for her LEAP family and loves getting to share her passion
for the arts with students at Little Leapers.

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Miss Amiya

Roanoke studio

Amiya Williams is from Northern Virginia and began her dance training at Dance Etc. school of the Arts in Woodbridge Virginia at the age of 9 studying styles including, Jazz, Tap, Hip, Hop, Ballet, Modern, and Contemporary. Amiya has expanded her dance training through various workshops and intensives, where she studied additional dance styles including, West African and Liturgical. Amiya began teaching dance in 2017 through her church's dance program and became a weekly and seasonal teacher for Prince William County in 2020.  Throughout this time, Amiya has gathered various teaching experiences working with a variety of different ages and styles. Amiya will graduate from Radford University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a concentration on Entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, during her time at Radford Amiya worked, performed and choreographed under the direction of the highly acclaimed Radford University Dance Department faculty. Amiya’s performance credits with the Radford Dance Department include Fall Dance Festival, The Freshman Seminar Dance Concert, The Informance Dance Concert, The Evening Of Ballet, The Student Choreography Showcase, and the Dancing on the Edge Dance Concert. 

Miss Lauren

Blacksburg studio

Cheer, Jazz, Lyrical

Lauren is from Ellicott City, Maryland, and danced competitively for 9 years at Backstage Dance Studio in Columbia. Lauren enjoyed dancing Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary and Hip-Hop. Lauren is a current Junior at Virginia Tech studying Public Health. Lauren is passionate about teaching and loves helping her students grow in every style! 

Miss Julia T.

Blacksburg studio

Bio coming soon..

Miss Julia S.

Blacksburg studio

HipHop, Jazz

Julia S. is from Long Valley, NJ where she has been dancing since the age of two. Competing since age seven, Miss Julia has been trained in styles such as ballet, lyrical, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, tap, and ballroom. She has also had the opportunity to assist for national conventions, received scholarships from Revive Dance Convention, Adrenaline Dance Convention, and Turn it Up Dance Challenge, and trained at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. As a student, she was taught by renowned instructors that danced with the Rockettes, NBA Knicks City Dancers, NBA Brooklyn Nets Dancers, and the Joffrey Ballet School. 


Miss Julia currently is a senior at Virginia Tech studying Marketing Management. She continues her dancing career as President of Dance Company at Virginia Tech. She is so excited to join the Little Leapers family!

Miss Bridget

Blacksburg studio

Bridget Muldowney grew up dancing at Central Virginia Dance Academy in Richmond, Virginia. She was a part of several CVDA’s productions of the Nutcracker, as well as their competition team in high school. Her favorite styles are tap and contemporary/modern, but has a background in ballet, pointe, jazz, and lyrical as well. She began teaching at Little Leapers in 2023 and is so excited to continue to share her passion for dance throughout her time here! Bridget is currently a senior at Virginia Tech studying architecture.

Miss Madison

Blacksburg studio

Maddie is from Ashburn, Virginia, and began dancing at the age of 3, she later started competing at age 5. Maddie has been a part of the competition world for many years. She participated in several local competitions in all styles of dance as well as Nationals at the end of 

each season. In her hometown, Maddie was a dance teacher all through high school teaching at her home studio Nova Elite Dance Alliance where she choreographed and taught a small tap group that placed at many local competitions. Maddie also taught dance at a small studio that catered to preschool-aged dancers. Maddie is currently a student at Virginia Tech majoring in Human, Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise Science with a minor in Early Childhood Development and Education. 

Miss Natalie B.

Blacksburg studio

Irish Dance

Bio coming soon..

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Miss Cam

Blacksburg studio

Cam Spera has been dancing since the age of two, competing with Strictly Rhythm Dance Center in Alexandria, VA until she was 18 years old. After graduating high school, Cam attended Syracuse University, where she was a four year member and two year captain of the Syracuse University Dance Team and Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, while studying Broadcast & Digital Journalism and Sport Management. After college, Cam continued her career at Syracuse, where she coached the dance team for two years while getting her Master’s in Higher Education. Cam now works in the Athletic Department at Virginia Tech as the Senior Director of Student-Athlete Development, where she oversees leadership development programming. While her favorite style of dance is tap, Cam has trained and competed in (and loves teaching) all different styles!

Miss Ellen

Blacksburg studio

HipHop, Musical Theater

Ms. Ellen is currently a teacher for our musical theater and hip hop classes. She has performed with several professional theater companies around the NRV such as New River Stage, Virginia Children’s Theater, and Mill Mountain Theatre. She has experience with skills in various performance genres and years of education in dance and music with several different companies. 

Currently a junior at Blacksburg High School, Ellen has been actively involved in sideline and competitive cheer since sixth grade, involving her in both athletics and the arts. Passionate about performance, she takes joy in sharing her love of dance and theatre with her students at Little Leapers. Ms. Ellen began dance and performance at a young age and is excited to give her students the opportunity to learn all aspects of performance in her classes! 

Miss Nichole

Blacksburg studio

Nicole Shortle started dancing at the age of three. She danced at the Russell School of Ballet starting at the age of 6 and was with the Fairfax Ballet Company for 5 years before attending Virginia Tech. She primarily trained in ballet, but also has experience in modern, jazz, and musical theater. She did summer programs with Ballet Austin, Nashville Ballet, and Paul
Taylor Dance Company. She has performed lead and soloist roles with the Fairfax Ballet under Artistic director Andrea Cook such as Firebird, Sugarplum, Clara, Snow Queen, Mechanical Doll, and Coffee. She also has performed Excerpts from Airs Choreographed by Paul Taylor, Repetiteur Constance Dinapoli. She is currently a sophomore at Virginia Tech on the Pre-Med
track studying Exercise and Health Science. Dance has had a positive impact on her life, and
she is excited to share her passion for dance with students at Little Leapers!

Miss Ellery

Blacksburg studio

Tap, LEAP Company Assistant 

Ellery Huffman has been dancing since she was 2 years old at dance studios located in Salem and Roanoke, Virginia. She has trained in various styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, clogging, musical theatre, hip hop, modern, and contemporary. She began dancing competitively at age 6 and has won various titles and awards. In high school, she was captain of her dance team, an assistant instructor and choreographer at her home dance studio, and a volunteer dance instructor at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. In 2017, she performed with the Moscow Ballet during their stint in Roanoke in their production of "The Great Russian Nutcracker." In college, Ellery was a member and choreographer of a dance group at the University of Virginia. In 2019, she found herself playing the titular character in a mini-touring production of "Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass" in Southwest Virginia and Kentucky with the newly established Threads and Patches Theatre Project. In addition to Little Leapers, she currently works at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

Ellery began teaching at LEAP Performing Arts Academy in 2023 and is currently a tap instructor and works alongside LEAP Company.

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