How did you start dancing?
I came from more of a theatre / straight acting background. When I was in high school, I did a summer intensive for musical theatre. They put us in jazz and ballet classes, and it was the first time that I was ever in a formal dance class. So I started dancing kind of late. I was 16 that summer. It kind of hit me in the face. It was “love-at-first-movement”, I guess. Because I started late, sometimes I feel like I’m playing catch-up, but dance came into my life at the moment I needed it.
What happened after high school?
I auditioned for a lot of different schools for musical theatre. I think again it was the fate guiding me in the right direction. I ended up at Point Park, which has a really, really, strong dance program within its musical theatre department. Had I ended up somewhere else, things might have ended up differently. But again, it was dance coming into my life saying, “This might be where you belong.”
How did you know that you wanted to be a professional performer?
As a kid, I was always running around singing and dancing for relatives and for anyone who would pay any mind, any attention. I would watch TV shows and pretend to be the characters and just loved playing make-believe. Loved people watching me living my crazy fantasies. I don’t know what it is. There’s something other-worldly about being in performance. You get to take a step away for a second in your own realm. I knew I wanted to perform and be on stage since I was very little.
How was it like at Point Park?
Point Park was great. I think every program gives you something different. You take what you need from wherever you’re at. Point Park is, on a larger side, for a conservatory program in terms of the amount of students they have. I think it really set me up for success here because it prepared for me for the fight--needing to push myself to stand out and being seen and have your voice heard.
How long have you been in the city?
A little over 4 years. A year of that I spent on tour with West Side Story in Europe, which was awesome.
What was that like?
It was the best. Just to have the chance to travel the world was great—I lived on a different continent for a year on someone else’s dime and got paid to do the most iconic musical theatre choreography--probably of all time. It was incredible. I was the Jet swing. I covered all the Jet boys, which was great for the year-long run. It kept things always interesting. I never complained of being bored because I was playing a different part every night.
What are you up to now?
Right now, it’s back to the good old grind. Back to auditioning, waiting tables, and all that. I had a pretty good summer. I did 4 shows between last February and now. And now I am back to square one--going to Pearl everyday and kicking my face [laughs].
Is it weird to be on tour for a year and having to adjust back to the city life?
Definitely. It was like being shot out of a cannon. When you’re in a show regularly, that way of life gets more relaxed, especially in a longer run. You know the show very well. If you only have an evening show, you have nothing to do until 8pm. I got used to waking up really late and lounging in bed. You get back to New York, and it’s like you’ve got to go, go, go. Hustle, hustle, hustle, everyday. It was hard to not lay in bed until noon anymore [laughs].
I knew in my heart of hearts that I would be able to get back to it. I’ve done it before, and it’s a way of life that you come to understand as a gypsy and a freelancer. I was dreading it at first, but it happens. You do what you have to do to be able to pursue your art and pursue your passion. You make it work.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
I think it’s the fact that everything is at your fingertips. Always. Anytime. When something new or exciting is happening in the world, it’s either in New York or LA or one of the big cities across the world. It’s just the center of everything. It’s where everything happens.
Least favorite part?
The MTA. It’s awful. Rent is expensive. Everything is expensive. Although, It’s nice when I go out of town for jobs and see how little things cost elsewhere. It’s almost like a vacation. It’s really refreshing to escape for a little bit and be able to go out for very cheap drinks [laughs].
Where are you from?
Allentown, PA. About an hour and a half drive from the city. My first time up here was when I was really little and saw the Rockettes. In high school, I started coming here pretty regularly to see shows and hang out. I did a summer program here at CAP 21–used to be the NYU Musical Theatre Studio—9 years ago and after that I was really hooked. I was like, “I have to live here. I can’t wait to move here.”
What was your favorite moment from your career up to now?
I would definitely say the first night I went on as the swing in West Side. I was in Dresden, Germany. Our guy playing Snowboy injured himself during the prologue. I had never been on, and I was thrown on mid-show, which was so crazy and so exciting. I was sitting backstage, and I hear, “Adam, change your costume. Throw your mic on. Let’s go!” It was great because i didn’t have time to be nervous. It was such a rush. Exhilarating the whole time.
And you were in Germany.
Which is also awesome. There are a lot of moments like that from the West Side tour. I remember our opening night in London. It was incredible. We played the Sadler’s Wells Theatre which is where a lot of the big ballet companies go when they play London. I never thought I‘d be making my London debut--like ever. So that was amazing. New Year’s Eve, we were in Frankfurt, Germany. We played a sold-out house of 2,500 people for the holidays. It was so much fun.
What are your aspirations?
It’s cliche, but it’s Broadway or bust. I also want to be able to leave my mark in some way beyond the label of success. I want to leave behind some sort of imprint of my voice on what I think art is and what art should be.
Toughest time as a dancer?
It certainly comes with struggles. They always say performers go on more job interviews in a year than most people do in their whole lives. It’s audition after audition, and a lot of times, no after no after no. It comes in its fits and streaks, and you have to take the ups and the downs. There are some times that you think you’ve booked something, and the production gets canceled. There are all sorts of crazy, terrible things that can happen. But we do it because we love it and those exhilarating moments make all the crap worth it.
It really hurts when you get so close on a big job that you think could be a game changer for you. In the past year there were a couple times where I was up for things that I thought would be a really big deal for me. You get to the final callbacks and they say, “Sorry”—and it’s usually not because of anything you did wrong at that point, when it’s down to that small of a pool of people.
What’s your number one advice to dancers?
Always remember why you’re doing it. Always remember what makes you love to perform and what makes you love to dance. That’s what’s going to get you through the tough times. You can’t be focused on a label of success or certain meter of how well you think you’re doing. It just has to be about the work. It has to be about what you love doing.
Is there any last thing you want to share with the world?
It ties back to the reason why I perform. It’s just that feeling of the thrill of being alive and being transported out of the everyday, the mundane, the ordinary, and living something different and exciting and otherworldly for a brief moment of time. That’s what I love about dancing and performing. That’s what I hope other people feel when they see my work.