SunDance Guest Instructor: Samantha Figgins

Samantha Figgins hails from Washington, D.C., and spent her early dance years training at Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Dance Theater of Harlem summer intensives. She continued her education at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, where she performed works by George Balanchine, Bill T. Jones, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. Some of Samantha's career highlights include performing at the 2014 DanceOpen Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, being featured both on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and in Pointe magazine's “10 Careers to Watch” in 2013, working with Beyoncé, and being featured in the dance film Enemy Within. Currently based in New York City, Samantha has been a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 2014.

We welcome Samantha with excitement on Wednesday, July 15 to teach two exceptional Modern Masterclasses and join us for a Lunchtime Talkback with the young artists of SunDance as part of this week's 'Surprise Wednesday'.

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What first influenced you to begin dancing? When did you realize that you wanted to pursue dance and/or dance education professionally?

Dance was a way for me to channel my creative energy and spirit as a child. It is my first language. I realized I wanted dance professionally after seeing the Dance Theater of Harlem when my older sister was a member of the company. Seeing her thrive there made me realize that dance can be something I can create a lifelong experience with.

Why do you think you gravitated towards ballet/modern/the style of dance you are currently most engaged with?

My mother put me in ballet first because of the discipline and I grew to love it for that as well. But I loved the more grounded, linear techniques that feel more authentic in my black body, so my training was always about versatility and range in styles. It’s divine that I get to work with a company as versatile as Alvin Ailey.

What has been a career highlight for you?

Dancing Wade in the Water for Judith Jamison for her TED talk was a pretty amazing experience.

What is a challenge that you have faced in your dance career and how did you overcome it?

I’m partially deaf, so there are things in my day as a dancer that others may not have to deal with. Self-acceptance, patience and pride are things I have been putting on more and more these days as I spend more time truly investigating what this identity means to me and how I walk in it.

Do you have any advice for young, aspiring dancers?

Everything begins with love. Love for yourself, others and the gifts you’ve been given. If you approach life with this, things may be hard but they will fall into place as they should. Honor yourself and appreciate your blessings. You are a blessing.

Follow Samantha on Instagram for more information, dance images, and video clips: @sfigg_udigg

Plus - find out more about Samantha's story and how she finds balance.

Click below to watch:

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