Evan Ruggiero is still keeping the beat
After being diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 19, performer evan ruggiero made the difficult decision to remove his right leg. he says his reason to continue dancing is simply, "Because the journey isn't over". Read his incredible story below.
Occupations, affiliations, and projects.
Actor, one legged tap dancer, Evan and The S’Evan Legs (band).
PEOPLE WHO DO FOCUSES ON THOSE WHO TAKE ACTION TO PURSUE MEANINGFUL LIFE PASSIONS. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO “DO”?
For me “doing” was a way of surviving. It was a way to keep my mind off of the negative things that become associated with cancer. The dream to perform on Broadway and the thought of one day tap dancing again kept me motivated to beat cancer.
Tell me more about why it's important to you to perform? Why won't you let anything stop you?
I won’t let anything stop me because the journey isn’t over. I still have so much to achieve. I’ve only reached a few of the goals I’ve set for myself. While there have been beautiful moments and unexpected joys arise, I continue each day to put my best foot, or peg leg, forward.
When you had to make the decision to lose your right leg, what was your initial feeling and what did you tell yourself to get to where you are now?
The day I made the decision to lose my leg was the day I fought back and put the ball in my court. I wasn’t going to allow this disease to kill me. I understood what it meant moving forward and I was ready to pick up right where I left off. The journey has had its ups and downs, and I’ve had a different career than what I had initially thought I would have, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
To date, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
My Drama Desk Award Nomination for my work in the Musical Bastard Jones, a Chita Rivera Award Nomination, I’m a Clive Barnes Award Winner in Theatre, I starred in a musical in NYC among other musicals across the country, being able to travel to different states and countries for work, being a motivational speaker, and beating cancer.
#1 motivating mantra to get through tough moments.
"The pursuit of happiness"
What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned so far this year?
A thing that I’ve learned this year was how to coexist with another. My girlfriend and I got our first place together and now have a new little puppy. I’ve also learned how to make some mean baby back ribs.
What's your go-to song to put you in a better mood?
Long Train Running by the Doobie Brothers
What’s your favorite lesson you’ve ever learned?
One of my tap teachers once said, “You sometimes learn more from standing on the sides and watching than you do when you’re tapping in the spotlight.” And sure enough one day, after standing on the sides for weeks of rehearsals during a show I was doing, someone just didn’t show up one morning and the company needed an immediate replacement. The director called my name and asked me if I knew the choreography. I was able to hit every step and I got the spot, and remained in that spot even when that person came back.
Favorite method for logging any kind of inspiration.
The notes app and recorder on my iPhone. You will find a ton of lyrics to songs I’ve written and sound clips of me singing or playing the guitar. Some of the songs have been recorded and I’ll play now with my band. Some started years ago and have taken about five years to finish, others are quickly written and wind up being some of my best work. You never know when inspiration is going to strike.
Who is your hero?
My grandfather, Poppy Baldo.
What’s the best piece of advice that you can give a performer who is experiencing any kind of setback?
Find your most positive self, and live in that moment. Sometimes we’ll face adversity, but by overcoming it we become even stronger. Don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t” or “no.”
3 words that you want to be remembered by.
Stoic, determined, fierce.
What’s the next goal?
To be on Broadway.
By "do-ing", you create your own unique legacy. How do you want your legacy to look?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who was always smiling. Being happy with life and taking each day as it came.