I have always been extremely dramatic. I think
“extremely” might even be an understatement. As
a child, I was constantly in costume. Never clothes.
Always a costume. When I was 8 we moved into a new
house, and took a home video to send to my dad’s fam-
ily. My siblings were performing a song for the camera.
I desperately wanted to join them, but they got annoyed
and said no. In the video I run out of the room crying
hysterically, and you can hear my dad saying, “It’s
okay, Sam, you can dance for the camera later.” This
is followed by about 45 minutes of me dancing. Music
changes, style changes, costume changes, the works.
Dance was, and still is, the best way I know how to
At 4, I told my mom I wanted to be “just like Gene
Kelly when I grow up, but a girl.” So she and my dad
put me in class, and I never looked back. Both of my
parents were dancers. My mother was a principal with The Washington Ballet, and now
has her own school in northern Virginia.
My father was a theater major in col-
lege, and he performed in musicals.
Mom was my ballet teacher, and
Dad was my jazz and modern teacher.
They introduced me to Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers,
Cyd Charisse, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse—all these
incredible dancers. My mind was blown. Here were
these people doing all the things I loved to do.
I love to sing and really love to act, but I think
dance will always feel like home. Then again, in my
opinion, the greatest dancers are also great actors. I
think that’s part of the reason I fell so in love with
theater, and theater dance in particular. I saw my first
Broadway show, The Music Man, when I was 14. I
cried at intermission because I wanted to be on that
stage so badly and didn’t know if it would ever happen for me. I think about that moment often. I am
extremely grateful every time I get to be on a stage,
whether it be a Broadway one or not. What we do in
theater is truly magical.
I feel so lucky to be able to dance. The transfor-
mation that dance can do to the human body still
mystifies me. It can encompass every facet of the soul.
I can be sexy. I can be innocent. I can be curious. I can
be mischievous. I can be quirky. I can be timid. I can
be confident and self-assured. I can be old. I can be
young. As soon as I start to move, no matter what style
of dance I am doing, I feel wholly human, yet wholly
ethereal. Nothing else in life does that for me. I am my
truest self when I am dancing. n
Gene Kelly was one
of Sturm’s earliest
“I love to sing
and really love
to act, but I
think dance will
always feel like