Q&A: Sam Frahn
You won’t be able to take your eyes off Sam Frahn, one of the warrior-dancers in Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay and a natural-born entertainer loaded with charisma and personality. Originally from Tampa, Fla., Frahn has paved her own path by creating a unique and personal style of dance influenced by jazz and hip-hop styles. “I love the culture of hip-hop but what I do is not necessarily breakdancing,” she says. “I’m kind of a variety piece of all the things that I love, and I like being a girl that can hang with the guys. If somebody is hitting hard, I’m going to hit hard, too.”
How long have you been performing in Michael Jackson ONE?
It will be three years in January. I still feel new. There’s so much to learn and so many people who have been doing it for so long.
Have you been dancing all your life?
Since I was six. When you get to high school you start to think, “What am I going to do to make money?” And my parents were (saying), “It’s not going to be dancing.” I used to want to be a dentist, but I started studying and found out I wasn’t passionate about it. There was a dance crew in college called Ruckus and within that group I started to realize what was possible. The people doing it professionally, their skills and ability to achieve, I realized I wasn’t too far from that. So my parents made sure I got my degree and then I moved to Vegas.
Your first breakthrough was with a Jennifer Lopez performance in Florida. Did you get to see J. Lo’s residency show in Las Vegas?
Oh yeah. That’s something so cool about Vegas right now, the residencies that are happening and bringing in all these dancers from L.A. who are very gifted. And they want to party it up while they’re in Vegas, and we go to the same clubs to hang out. A place like On the Record (at Park MGM), it’s doing a lot of stuff with dance battles and bringing the street scene into the club, so that’s the spot. You go there and you get to see a free show, all these people throwing down and having fun.
How do you describe your role in the show?
The character I play is an MJ warrior. We are Michael’s army, his hand-selected crew of people to represent him in this world and to defend everything that is good. We help these kids who don’t realize they are heroes to see that within themselves. Our job is to send his message to them and to the audience that everything you need is within you already, you just have to hone your strengths and believe in them.
There’s a lot more to your performance than just performing classic Michael Jackson moves, but it must be exciting to hit those parts of the show every night.
It’s what every dance kid dreams of. You watch these iconic performances and your eyes are glued to the screen and you think, “I wish I could learn those moves.” So to learn them with people who worked closely with Michael—it’s something else.
Do you have favorite parts of the show?
I have different favorites for different reasons. My favorite number to be in would be “Smooth Criminal,” because that’s super-iconic choreography and the lean is so fun. It’s the coolest thing you get to do as a dancer and they did a phenomenal job of creating something so visually stimulating. When it comes to watching the show, I love “Billie Jean” for all the lights and because it’s my favorite MJ song. But for sentimental reasons, there’s a number called “Smile” that has one of the heroes coming into her own, and that resonates with me. It goes back to my mom and dad saying there’s no money in being a dancer and doubting what’s possible, limiting your potential. That hero goes through the same thing, then she puts the hat on and realizes everything she’s capable of.