Cupcakes & Conversation with James Whiteside, Principal, Boston Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Coffee and a competitive edge.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
In Boston Ballet, I love dancing with Lia Cirio and Misa Kuranaga but I would love to do Balanchine’s Ballo Della Regina with Merrill Ashley (back in the day).
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
Underwater. Esther Williams style. YouTube her. She’s magical.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I wake up to the most obnoxious tone on my iPhone (the sci-fi one). Coffee and eggs, warm up to my latest downloads (music is my life-force… along with chilli-cheese fries), class, rehearsal, dinner with friends and bedtime. I love to watch the 1960s sci-fi soap opera “Dark Shadows”. It begs me to turn it into a ballet. Some day.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I love to take a shower before getting ready for a show. It’s relaxing and it gets me warm. Then, I listen to music while I put on my stage makeup. I love to make playlists on my iPod for each program we do (my latest mix was for La Bayadere and I named it “Solor Eclipse”. I warm up, do a barre, and go over steps and choreography while listening to music that really pumps me up to perform.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2010 ?
I’d love to dance Oberon and Divertissement Pas de Deux in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Forsythe’s The Second Detail. (I hope Mikko reads this. 😉
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Vera-Ellen (film and dance star), Harvey Milk (activist), Genndy Tartakovsky (animation genius), Timbaland (pioneering music producer), Nureyev (duh), and Stephen Hawking (physicist).
What would surprise people about you ?
I am a science nerd and I make pop/dance music.
Who inspired you to dance ?
A photo in the phone book. It was an advertisement for the dance school. It was an awesome photo of a press lift and it inspired me to go to take a trial jazz class.
How would someone else describe you ?
Fun, ambitious, and weird. Misa says I’m crazy but I’m good with paperwork.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Use your brain and think for yourself. Charles Kelley (my acrobatics and tap teacher) once told me “I don’t teach dummies” and it was a truly revelatory moment… even though I was 10.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Albrecht in Giselle. It was my first classical principal role other than the Nutcracker Prince. It is a full character in terms of acting and technique.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
I was a dancer in the Disney film The Game Plan with The Rock. It’s hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create ?
I would love to create a costume made completely of lights. It would be amazing if the only light on stage came from my costume. The movement would appear to trail behind my body. When I’m a millionaire, I’ll commission a luminositard. See, I’ve already named it.
A phrase I use far too often is …
I tend to make up my own words so a lot of the things I say frequently aren’t even English. I could write a list, but nobody would understand (except my closest friends). A Whiteside Dictionary is in the works. Don’t worry.
Who would play you in the film of your life ?
What is your favourite quote?
“See the music. Hear the dance.” – George Balanchine
What’s on your iPod ?
Lady Gaga, JbDubs, and every other artist that isn’t country or heavy metal.
What makes you a good dance partner ?
I care about more than just myself.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
I make amazing chilli.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Outta my way.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
Exactly where I want to be.