Episode 1: James Whiteside
Broadcast date: 30 September 2021
James Whiteside is not only a principal at American Ballet Theatre, dancing all iconic classical princes as well as ambitious contemporary work, but also has two alter egos: musician JB Dubs and the drag queen Uhu Betch. He has always worked to break down the mystique that surrounds classical ballet: he has a strong social media presence and frequently collaborates on digital work. Center Center, his eye-wateringly candid new memoir, is a rollercoaster through his professional and emotional life, since his early ballet lessons with two RAD dance teachers in Connecticut. He speaks to us frankly about his multiple performing lives.
“When you think about the great dancers of various generations, you don’t remember the ones that smoothed out all the bumps. You think about the ones who forged their own paths, whose uniqueness was celebrated, whose identities are interesting, basically, as well as their dancing. They go hand in hand. You know, when an educator sees uniqueness and knows how to guide it into greatness, that is so inspiring to me and I’m so grateful for my teachers for that.”
“Sensitivity, grace, artistry – those are all typically associated with femininity. Those, for a male, are negatives. I don’t agree with that, obviously, but that’s just what society feels and I felt that since the day I started dancing and that’s not great. I think we can do better.”
Content warning: this episode contains some explicit language.
James Whiteside is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, a pop star (as JbDubs), and a member of the NYC-based drag posse the Dairy Queens (as Uhu Betch). Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, he began his training at the D’Valda & Sirico Dance and Music Centre. After dancing with Boston Ballet, he joined ABT in 2012 and was named a principal in 2013. He has choreographed for music videos, commercials, film and ballet, and starred in Arthur Pita’s The Tenant (Joyce Theater). He also hosts his own popular podcast, The Stage Rightside with James Whiteside. Center Center, his ‘almost-memoir’ is published by Penguin Random House.
The paperback of James Whiteside’s book Center Center is out on 16 August from Penguin books.
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