Evan Ruggiero began dancing at the age of five in his hometown studio and by age ten, he was accepted into the famed New Jersey Tap Ensemble. Upon entering his sophomore year at Montclair State University while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, Evan was suddenly diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer of the right leg. Enduring nine surgeries in a six-month period in an effort to save the leg, the cancer returned more aggressively than the original diagnosis. He was faced with the ultimate decision of amputation in order to stop the cancer and save his life, as well as undergoing chemotherapy for sixteen months. Eighteen months after the amputation, and only two days after receiving his “peg-leg”, Evan was tapping again. In 2018 he received a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Actor, a Chita Rivera Award Nomination for Best Dancer, and was awarded a Clive Barnes Award in Theatre for his portrayal of Tom Jones in NYC’s off-broadway hit “Bastard Jones.”
Credits include: Bastard Jones (Off-Broadway), The 90th Oscars: This Is Me, The Pickler and Ben Show, The Toxic Avenger (Pittsburgh CLO), The Ellen Show, Quelli Che il Calcio (Rai Due, Milan, Italy), Yes I Can (Paralympic Games Film), Shrek (Pittsburgh CLO), Man of La Mancha (Pittsburgh CLO), Best Night Ever (Transcendence Theatre Company), Pretty To The Bone (NY Theatre Barn), Hans Christian Anderson (NYC reading), The Penalty (The Public), and Evan and The S’Evan Legs (Kennedy Center).
What do you love?
I love to tap dance. I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old. I love to teach and educate! I have found a deep appreciation for educating young dancers from around the country. Choreographing for students or just brush up lessons, there is always something to learn for me when working with the up and coming tap dancers of today!
Why do you dance?
Tap dance for me is a release. Either when I am by myself in a studio or with students there is a connection there between us. A form of communication with our feet that we do not have to use our mouths for. All emotions can be covered with tap dance. There is a freedom to make rhythms and express ones self that is very liberating.
Why do you choose to dance on O’Mara Sprung Floors?
O’Mara Sprung Floors are simply amazing! The design is simple yet highly effective! Dancing on the O’Mara boards you can clearly be heard without a microphone on the board or your feet! The board is raised and Sprung so it cushions your joints while dancing. I’ve used O’Mara Sprung Floors on tour for many years and nothing comes close for me when choosing a floor to dance on.
How would you like the world to know you?
I would like the world to know me as a passionate educator of dance. Tap dance is not dead! It is thriving and well! There are many outlets for tap dance and with modern technology and social media there is a huge push with tap again. I have many projects in the works for tap and this is only the beginning! The future is bright and can’t wait to keep creating and sharing.
Career highlights thus far:
Revel Dance Convention
Tap: the Show tour
World of Dance Season 1
Soloist for Duke Ellington Sacred Concert
Tap Choreographer Pace University
Current Home Base:
New York City
Where have you come from?
I originally did not set out for a career in dance. I graduated high school thinking it would only be a hobby. But I was Lucky enough to have mentors and close friends guide me to being able to believe in myself for a positive and fruitful career as a dancer and educator. I have not looked back. I can only hope I can pass on the same knowledge and confidence I received when I questioned what I was going to do as a career.
Where are you headed?
Keeping the voice of tap dance current. Keeping it in the eyes of the public. Creating content, teaching the history of the dance, inspiring my students that I meet with my travels. Keeping it fun! Life is too short to not have fun! And you can certainly do that with Tap!