On the Rise: Samara Seligsohn

Even while tapping with live accompaniment, Samara Seligsohn shows that she is the musician in charge. A percussive chameleon, she can alternate between impeccably crisp rhythmic bursts and delicate melodies, displaying both effortlessness and athleticism. Several burgeoning tap troupes in New York City have already claimed her, and now she’s starting to find her own voice as a choreographer.

Seligsohn's side job at Then She Fell is much more than a paycheck: Watching the cast grow in their roles inspires her to delve deeper into her tap work. Photo by Eric Tronolone, courtesy Seligsohn.

Companies: Nicholas Young’s SoundMovement Dance Company & Chloe Arnold’s Apartment 33

Age: 25

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Training: Ballet, tap, jazz, modern and lyrical at Meg Segreto’s Dance Centre in Davie, Florida; ballet and modern at Barnard College, where she earned a BA in dance.

Her second home: Steps on Broadway, where she spent two years in the work-study program and met three significant mentors: Derick K. Grant, Lynn Schwab and Nicholas Young.

Breakthrough moment: She presented her first ensemble piece this spring at American Tap Dance Foundation’s Rhythm in Motion showcase. The New York Times praised her and her dancers for “punctuating their soundtrack…with unexpected pockets of stillness.” Seligsohn says, “Choreographing filled an artistic void I wasn’t even aware I was feeling.”

Insider tips: During and after college, Seligsohn worked for Divine Rhythm Productions, an artist management collective headed by Elka Samuels Smith, sister of tap star Jason Samuels Smith. “I got an inside look and deeper understanding of what went into a career in tap.”

Improving her improv: “I’m still really working on opening up my flow, looking for a balance between control and spontaneity,” she says. “For me, I think this means developing a fluid translation from idea to action, and keeping my technique sharp.”

What Derick K. Grant says: “Her hunger to get better has set the bar for her friends and classmates—it’s infectious. She’s confident enough to be a leader among her peers, but humble to the point where people are happy to hire her.”

Double life: She’s also an assistant stage manager swing, working behind the scenes about once every two weeks, for Then She Fell, an interactive theatrical experience. “I’ve been so inspired watching these performers stay excited and refreshed in their characters. It gives me something to strive for as a creator and performer.”

On the horizon: Next season, she’ll return as an artist in residence with ATDF. “I come primarily from a concert dance background, so I’m interested in creating concept-based tap works that hopefully stand beside other dance forms more heavily represented on proscenium stages.”

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