Transferring the vast wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to developing and honing routines, preparing for events & performances, and of course competing on a regional or national level is no easy task. And what happens when we have a change of guard when it comes to coaching staff? This is where mentors come in. During the holidays of 2016, the JDHS Dance Team was blessed with the return of recent Alumni dancers such as Krista Yadao, Anna Tran, Corby Abel, Hannah Cassell, Adrienne Sypeck and Haley Ogoy to assist new dancers with "cleaning up" their routines and techniques. But most prominently, Alumni and former head coach Leslie Dahl has returned to mentor the 2016-17 JDHS Dance Team. Her vast years of expertise, professionalism and creativity (and a few rabbits pulled from the top hat) are allowing a whole new team of young dancers to become superstars. No one but Leslie and her amazing team could pull this off.

Leslie (Burns) Dahl was a member and officer of the JDHS Drill Team when she was in high school, including being a member of the first JDHS Drill Team to attend Nationals in Los Angeles Ca in 1976, where the team placed 5th in Military. Leslie also choreographed for 2 high school teams in Eugene Oregon when she was attending college there, and then became the Head Coach of JDHS Drill Team (now JDHS Dance) in 1986. Leslie coached JDHS Dance/Drill from 1986-2000, from 2002-2005, and again from 2008-2009. During that time the team won National titles at the Miss Dance Drill USA event in California in 1993 (Military), 1995 (Military, Prop, Large Drill) and 1997 (Military, Large Drill). In 1995 Leslie and Co-coach Evonne Dwyer took the team to Miss Dance Drill International in Nagoya Japan, where they placed 1st in all categories in which they competed; Prop, Military and Show. The team was the first Alaskan sports team to appear on ESPN with their 3rd place finish in Prop, and their 5th place finish in Varsity Pom at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship in 1999. They appeared again when they attended the same event in 2000, finishing 3rd in Large Varsity Jazz and 4th in Large Varsity Pom. During that time the team was awarded numerous Legislative Citations and City and Borough of Juneau Commendations, including being honored with a parade, a community celebration, and an official “JDHS Drill Team Day” in 1995. In 2013-14, Leslie mentored the amazing dance team to compete in the NDA national competition in Orlando Florida where they achieved the semi-finals round against serious competition. This year, she back to help us prepare for Nationals competition again, this time in Long Beach California. Leslie has always stayed involved with the team, especially in helping with the Southeast Tournament routines and the annual Showtime event. This year she is acting as a team mentor and using a variety of skill building and team building to help inspire a new group of young dancers. Leslie is married to Craig Dahl, one of Showtime’s “famous” MC’s, who has also been a huge supporter of the team over the past 25 years.


Leslie Dahl
Leslie Dahl

Studio Photos courtesy of Phil Loseby

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