President Joan Hinde Stewart announced the passing of Associate Professor of Dance Emerita Leslie Norton in an e-mail to the campus community on July 25:
With deep sadness I write to inform you that Associate Professor of Dance Emerita Leslie Norton died Saturday following a lengthy illness. She was 58 and had recently retired from the Hamilton faculty after 27 years.
Leslie came to Hamilton in 1984 and taught courses at all levels of ballet, jazz, kinesiology, dance history and dance composition. She received a bachelor’s degree from Butler University in 1974 and a master’s from Indiana University in 1977 and was associated with several ballet schools and companies before her arrival on College Hill. Leslie taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1982 to 1984 and was the assistant director of the Canton Ballet Company and School from 1980 to 1982. A practicing artist, she wrote about ballet, choreographed works locally and for festivals in different parts of the United States, and performed as principal dancer for Roger Hess Productions and as soloist for the American Ballet Festival and the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre.
We will remember Leslie’s life and contributions to Hamilton at the September faculty meeting and in a memorial service at the Chapel this fall. Expressions of sympathy will reach her sister Mary King Brandenberger at 1319 W. County Line Road, Hatboro, PA 19040.
Leslie Norton was so welcoming and gracious when we came to look at Hamilton with our daughter Nicole, an enthusiastic dancer. Her positive attitude was one of the reasons we chose Hamilton.
Leslie was a wonderful professor while I was at Hamilton. She made me feel at home instantly in her class and beyond. I will miss her for her warmth as a person and her absolute love of dance and dedication to me as a student and fellow dancer. I will always remember her for the wonderful person she was. Thank you Leslie, now and always...Forever thinking of you.
Leslie instilled in me a love of dance history and a continued appreciation for the structure, yet also evolution, of ballet. There is nothing like standing in the wings, in the moment right before you alight on stage. Thank you Leslie for four years of rehearsals, performances, and support. They were some of the best days of my life. I will miss Leslie's contributions to dance and to the joy in life. What a loss.
Leslie Norton taught me much of what I know of ballet and played a pivotal role in my dance career at Hamilton and beyond. She pushed me as a dancer in ways I did not thought I was capable of and I will be forever grateful for her for all she has done. She will most certainly be missed.
This is such sad news for me. Leslie and I danced together at Butler University and then later with the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre. She was always a hard worker and fun. I did a couple of comedic ballets with her and she was a natural in such works. Later we reconnected after she was at Hamilton and it was the same old Leslie - funny and witty. We had some good conversations remembering our dancing days. It is great to read of her impact on younger dancers and it does not surprise me when I see such wonderful words stated in her honor.
Entering college can be a tough transition, but I immediately felt at home in Leslie's ballet class. Although I was far from her strongest dancer, Leslie always made me feel beautiful and confident in her class. I took that confidence along with me to law school, my career, and even to motherhood. May she now rest comfortably in her own confidence, of the contributions she made to the college community, as well as to the individual lives of her students.
Peggy Malloy Garte
Leslie was a feisty, petite woman with a big heart and so much spunk! I studied with Leslie for all four years of my dance training at Hamilton (1998-2002) and will always have fond memories of her teaching, her choreography, and her encouragement to pursue a professional dance career. Leslie, Thank you. I hope you are at peace. Much Love-Nicole
Nicole Caporuso Kutcher
I’ve studied Ballet with Leslie since I came to Hamilton in 2008. She was a dedicated and enthusiastic professor, trekking to evening rehearsals in even the worst snow storms. She was a beautiful choreographer as well, paying close attention to details and asserting, “no, this is how it should look ladies.” We will all miss her.
I was a faculty secretary in KJ from 1987-1995. At that time Theatre/Dance was one of the disciplines we serviced out of the KJ office. Leslie was there a lot and was always so courteous and appreciative of whatever we secretaries did for her. She was a very talented and wonderful professor from what I observed.