Although Leitzel claimed she made her first public appearance when she was six years old in the trapeze act of her Aunt Toni and her husband, her professional debut was with the Leamy Troupe. According to Leitzel, it was in Hamburg, and she was thirteen years old. If her recollection is correct, her debut would have occurred in December 1903 while the Leamy Troupe was appearing at the Hansa Theater. It was probably a brief appearance during a holiday visit to see her mother. Leitzel would have actually been a few weeks shy of her thirteenth birthday. Evidence suggests Leitzel joined the troupe permanently in the summer of 1905 when the act appeared at the Blackpool Tower outside of London.
When Leitzel joined the Leamy Troupe, it was in its second decade. The act had debuted as a trio in Hengler’s Grand Cirque at the Rotunda Gardens in Dublin in March 1894. Among the members of the original Leamy troupe was Leitzel’s mother, Nellie Pelikan. The act involved work on the rope, the rings, the trapeze and the revolving trapeze, a Ferris wheel like apparatus on which two girls posed on trapezes as they revolved suspended from the spoke of its wheel, its rotation powered by a third girl on a bicycle atop the apparatus.
The act took its name from its manager, Edward J. Leamy. After a quarter of a century representing talent around the world, most prominently women’s aerial acts, he had created and developed an act that bore his name. The act quickly developed a reputation as one of the finest of its kind. It toured Europe and came to America in late 1895. After several months in the United States, the act returned to Europe, where it continued to tour until Leitzel joined the act. By that time, of the original members of the troupe, only Leitzel’s mother remained, but the act had expanded to five members. Leitzel’s aunt Tina (Nellie’s sister) along with Lydia Simpson and a girl named Maggie were the other members of the act.
By all accounts, Leitzel’s talents were immediately apparent. Within a year the act was being advertised as: The Leamy Ladies, including the premier lady gymnast, Miss Alice, The Wonder of the World. Alice was the name by which Leitzel was known professionally at the time. It was derived from her middle name, Alitza.
In 1907, the act, by that time back to four members, came to the attention of John Ringling, who made them an offer to join the Barnum & Bailey circus for its 1908 appearance in Madison Square Garden. The offer had one condition; the act that comes to Madison Square Garden must include Leitzel.