Evan Ruggiero began dancing at the age of 5 in his hometown studio. By the age of 10, he was accepted into the famed New Jersey Tap Ensemble, under the direction of Ms. Deborah Mitchell. He soon graced the stages of Lincoln Center, The Shomberg Museum of Harlem and The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, among others.
Upon entering his sophomore year at Montclair State University while pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, Evan was suddenly diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer of the right leg. Enduring nine surgeries in a six-month period in an effort to save the leg, the cancer returned more aggressively than the original diagnosis. He was faced with the ultimate decision of amputation in order to stop the cancer and save his life, as well as undergoing chemotherapy for 16 months.
In spite of the physical setback, Evan held close to the dream of dancing and learned of the famed Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, a legendary African-American entertainer who taught himself to tap dance after losing a leg in a cotton gin accident at the age of 12. Bates performed twice for the King and Queen of England and became a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show appearing a record 58 times.
Inspired by Bates's story, Evan aspired to passing on his legacy. Within eighteen months after the amputation, and only two days after receiving his “peg-leg," Evan was tapping again!