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Meet Sam Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Allen.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. In elementary school, I studied with the American Ballroom Theatre and Harkness Youth Ballet. I graduated LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts (known as The Fame School). I actually started on track at LaGuardia to be an actor. I love storytelling and dancing was always a hobby. When I combined the two, I found something I really had a passion for: choreography.

When I moved to LA, I graduated from the University of Southern California where I studied music and performing arts. I began teaching at a variety of studios around LA, like The Playground LA and Edge Performing Arts Center, where I grew my student base and continued to share my love of dance.

What’s amazing about what I do is that I get to reach a wider audience and not just communicate to the dance community. I have the opportunity to teach lawyers, doctors, people of all professions and connect through the universal language of dance. This especially becomes apparent during international workshops where often the students don’t even speak English.

Eventually, I signed with my agency and I started choreographing commercials, music videos, musical theatre and feature films.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The first major obstacle I faced was choosing to stay in LA when my whole life and family was rooted in New York. LA provided more career opportunities so ultimately, I chose to build my life here.

Balancing my regular classes, auditions, international travel and gigs can also be really challenging. My students rely on me to be there and jobs often lead to other jobs, forcing me to be away for lengthy periods of time. This also means I am away from my family. Time management is something I’m now very well versed in and has definitely proven to be a worthy skill.

Decision-making between clashing jobs comes up and is difficult to navigate. Do you choose the higher paying job or one that has more potential exposure? There’s never a textbook answer and these decisions can easily lengthen your career or shorten them!

Like anyone working in the entertainment industry, a steady paycheck is always a struggle. Some months have more work than others and you can’t wait for a job to land in your lap; you have to be proactive and get yourself out there.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a teacher in my classes, I specialize in hip hop, but come to the table with years of experience in a multitude of genres; ballroom, jazz, modern, tap, ballet.

For choreography, I specialize in a variety of media. I’ve choreographed musical theatre like In The Heights, and commercials for brands like Nike. Cannon, Doritos, Tecate and Almond Breeze. I’ve also choreographed music videos and feature films for artists such as Sofia Carson, Mya, Todrick Hall, and Keith Urban.

I choreograph through different perspectives depending on the medium of the job. If I’m on set, I envision my choreography through different camera angles. If I’m choreographing for stage, I step back and create pictures as a whole with my dancers.

What sets me apart is that I’m well versed in a variety of styles and I don’t just teach a sequence of choreography to my dancers…I tell stories through movement.

I am most proud of the relationships I’ve built, the opportunities to work with major artists, and the fact that I’ve been able to travel the world doing what I love to do.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future are to continue choreographing feature films. It’s great to be on set for a long period of time on the same project. You really become a family and you can dive into the details of the story. When working on films, you can really live in them and take the time to make them the best they can be, whereas other jobs come and go. There’s also characters in films you can invest in and build intention behind their movement.

I’m also looking forward to traveling more and meeting, teaching and connecting with new students all around the world.

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