Matthew Murphy for

"Dance Is the Best Way I Know How to Express Myself"

I have always been extremely dramatic. I think "extremely" might even be an understatement. As a child, I was constantly in costume. Never clothes. Always a costume.

When I was 8 we moved into a new house, and took a home video to send to my dad's family. My siblings were performing a song for the camera. I desperately wanted to join them, but they got annoyed and said no. In the video I run out of the room crying hysterically, and you can hear my dad saying, "It's okay, Sam, you can dance for the camera later."

This is followed by about 45 minutes of me dancing. Music changes, style changes, costume changes, the works. Dance was, and still is, the best way I know how to express myself.

At 4, I told my mom I wanted to be "just like Gene Kelly when I grow up, but a girl." So she and my dad put me in class, and I never looked back. Both of my parents were dancers. My mother was a principal with The Washington Ballet, and now has her own school in northern Virginia.

My father was a theater major in college, and he performed in musicals. Mom was my ballet teacher, and Dad was my jazz and modern teacher. They introduced me to Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse—all these incredible dancers. My mind was blown. Here were these people doing all the things I loved to do.

I love to sing and really love to act, but I think dance will always feels like home. Then again, in my opinion, the greatest dancers are also great actors. I think that's part of the reason I fell so in love with theater, and theater dance in particular.

Ronnie Nelson

I saw my first Broadway show, The Music Man, when I was 14. I cried at intermission because I wanted to be on that stage so badly and didn't know if it would ever happen for me. I think about that moment often. I am extremely grateful every time I get to be on a stage, whether it be a Broadway one or not. What we do in theater is truly magical.

I feel so lucky to be able to dance. The transformation that dance can do to the human body still mystifies me. It can encompass every facet of the soul. I can be sexy. I can be innocent. I can be curious. I can be mischievous. I can be quirky. I can be timid. I can be confident and self-assured. I can be old. I can be young.

As soon as I start to move, no matter what style of dance I am doing, I feel wholly human, yet wholly ethereal. Nothing else in life does that for me. I am my truest self when I am dancing.

Carol Rosegg

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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

July 2021