Watch James Whiteside Work the Thom Browne Runway in a Tutu and Pointe Shoes
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
"I danced as the character 'M. Brun,' who generously opens his garden to visitors once a year," Whiteside told Vogue. "Thom was very open to whatever choreographic ideas I had and gave me clear references, as far as tone. My character is a proud and artful loner, with a generous spirit."
The Parisian fashion crowd was blown away by Whiteside's impressive skills on pointe (already well-known to dance fans, as are his skills in six-inch heels). Also impressive? The fact that Whiteside jetted to Paris smack-dab in the middle of ABT's epic Metropolitan Opera House season. He danced Lescaut in Manon in NYC on Thursday night, took to the runway in Paris on Saturday, and will be back at the Met as Prince Siegfried tomorrow.
"My friends at Thom Browne contacted me and asked if I was available to go to Paris during June. I said, 'Absolutely not,'" Whiteside told Vogue. "Then they told me what it was for and I said 'Absolutely, yes!'"
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I hate asking for money. I am tired of feeling like we, as dance practitioners, are constantly begging for every morsel of sustenance. We are often seen as the poor stepchildren of the arts, usually thought of as having nothing tangible to sell.
I have to admit, I've had a wonderful career. I've danced with The Royal Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet, done a stint on the West End in An American in Paris, played the Snow Cavalier in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with Misty Copeland, and will soon be performing as Older Billy in the Australian tour of Billy Elliot: The Musical.
How did I get in this position? Through the eight international ballet competitions I've entered.
If you want to travel the world performing and doing what you love, competitions are your ticket to finding the freedom to dance wherever you want to go.
By the Sunday evening of a long convention weekend, you can expect to be thoroughly exhausted and a little sore. But you shouldn't leave the hotel ballroom actually hurt. Although conventions can be filled with magical opportunities, the potential for injury is higher than usual.
Keep your body safe: Watch out for these four common hazards.