By Alex Cornacchia, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – In early January, Sam Quinn had just returned home from a month of touring the country with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular when he found an unexpected email in his inbox. It was from Bad Boys of Dance (BBD), a company he’d auditioned for four months prior. Quinn assumed they were no longer considering him for a position, but he was mistaken. He was in. He had to be packed and ready to go by the end of the month.
But for Quinn, that was all right: uncertainty is something he thrives on.
“I love surprises,” he said.
The weeks after receiving the email from BBD were spent scrambling to figure out what he would need for his six-month European tour with the company. He issued pleas on social media, asking friends and family for help. This would be his first time traveling abroad; he didn’t know anything about international currency.
“I was like ‘S.O.S., what do I need in Europe?!” Quinn recalled.
For better or for worse, come January’s end he was off to Baltimore for rehearsals of BBD’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
BBD is a company known for its athleticism, as well as its amalgamation of dance styles. In “Romeo and Juliet,” choreographed by Adrienne Canterna, dancers transition fluidly between hip-hop and ballet to a score encompassing everything from Vivaldi to Lady Gaga.
“It’s super different from pretty much any other ‘Romeo and Juliet’ you could see,” Quinn noted.
The weeks leading up to the March 4 opening in London were intense. The dancers saw each other not only for eight hours a day in the studio, but also at the hotel where they all stayed. In this environment, choreography is learned as quickly as friendships are formed. Every experience feels vivid and visceral.
At times perhaps too visceral, like when the company rehearses fight scenes. Though it’s all choreographed, Quinn said it’s easy to get caught up in the action and forget that it’s not real.
“I actually get scared,” remarked Quinn, noting that he has been hit before.
Quinn is game to roll with the punches, though; he’s mostly just thrilled to be where he is right now. It’s something he talks about a lot living in the moment, not taking anything for granted.
In addition to his ever-changing career, something else threw these mantras into sharp relief. Quinn’s boyfriend, Paul, passed away suddenly in early 2014. At the time, Quinn was in Chicago, apprenticing with River North Dance Chicago, but he came home to Massachusetts to try to process what had happened.
“I took three months,” Quinn explained. “Then I moved to New York [City]. That was the fresh start.”
Quinn has had a couple of new beginnings since then, including BBD. As for what’s next? Quinn isn’t sure. Maybe Broadway. Definitely a move back to New York City. He said he’ll figure it out as he goes.
For now, he has what he needs the support of his family and friends, a cup of iced coffee in hand. Paul’s never far from his mind, either, a reminder to live his life.
“I’m doing what I’m doing for him,” Quinn said. “I know he’s smiling down from heaven making sure I’m living my dream.”