Never Not Fabulous: Peek Inside James Whiteside's Offstage Life
James Whiteside sometimes seems larger than life. He knows how to effortlessly command any room he's in, whether he's playing a noble prince onstage or appearing in fashion campaigns for designers like Marc Jacobs and Thom Browne. During a rare day off, Whiteside gave us a glimpse into a quieter side of his personality—which is perhaps most endearing of all.
Whiteside in his Manhattan apartment
The piece of clothing he collects the most: "T-shirts. When they start to wear out as my real clothes, I transition them into dancewear, so it's fun to cycle through. I found this vintage Reba McEntire shirt from a 1988 tour at an amazing shop in the East Village."
Fashion philosophy: "I want to be comfortable. I like traditional, American clothing—T-shirts, jeans, leather jackets, cowboy boots, Chucks. I like to keep it simple with a James Dean sort of vibe."
Perks of stardom: "My shoes, I actually snagged off the set for the Valentine's Day Macy's shoot that I did with my boyfriend, Dan."
Frugal finds: "The couch is something a friend was getting rid of, the trunk was $1 at a flea market and everything on the walls, people have given me."
How He Fuels the Fierceness
Daily indulgence: "I eat dessert like every night. I'll get a pint of ice cream, or there's a 16 Handles around the corner from my apartment. My order is usually the peanut butter ice cream, and then I put in peanut butter cups, plus Reese's Pieces and Cap'n Crunch cereal."
Pre-show ritual: "Isabella Boylston and I always have lunch at Fiorello's. We get pasta with a side of pizza and really carbo-load."
Post-show ritual: "I go back to Fiorello's and have a Manhattan and maybe some chicken parmigiana."
Coffee order: "Just a small, black coffee."
What His Downtime Looks Like
What he's reading: "Jane Eyre, because ABT is staging it this spring. I read every day. I recently loved The Dispossessed and Oathbringer."
Ideal day off: "My favorite thing to do is wake up slow, have coffee, go to my bagel shop, read, play video games. Maybe I'll meet up with some friends for lunch or see a movie. I usually work on my days off though, and I'll schedule a photo shoot or meetings. I can't do this forever, and I really want to solidify my place in the dance legacy. I want to get better all the time, and I like to make things and choreograph. I think in the future perhaps, you'll see more of that side of me."
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.