James Whiteside


The Gramilano Questionnaire

When Graham Spicer contacted me to do his "Dancer Questionnaire", I thought "Sure!". Little did I know how in-depth some of my answers would have to be! It's a fabulous questionnaire. Enjoy!


When did you start dan­cing?
I star­ted dan­cing when I was 9 years old.

Why did you start dan­cing?
I star­ted dan­cing because I was driv­ing my mom crazy. She wanted to get me out of the house and into an after-school activ­ity. I had an appalling amount of energy and I abso­lutely hated every “nor­mal” sport. My mom chucked the phone­book at me one day and said, “Pick some­thing!” I thumbed through the yel­low pages and found an ad for a local dance stu­dio. At the time, I didn’t real­ize it was for a dance stu­dio. I just saw the incred­ible photo, of a man lift­ing a woman over his head with one hand! Next thing I knew, I was enrolled in jazz, tap, and acro­bat­ics. Bal­let came a wee bit later.

Which dan­cer inspired you most as a child?
Ini­tially, it was my teach­ers and some of the older stu­dents. Janet Jack­son had a huge impact on me as a teen­ager. I loved her music (still do!), her energy, and style. Other influ­ences were Brit­ney Spears and *NSYNC. I will­ingly knew noth­ing about Nureyev or Bary­sh­nikov, but those super­stars of the late 90’s TRL age had me shak­ing my rumplestilt­skin* in my metal­lic flares and Sketch­ers. Rough stuff, I know.

Which dan­cer do you most admire?
I admire loads of dan­cers! I’d be a fool to just pick one to steal secrets of the trade from. To name a few: Vera-Ellen, of the MGM days; Mar­celo Gomes, of ABT fame; Janet (Miss Jack­son if you’re nasty); Rudolf Nureyev (love that queen!)… and many more!

What’s your favour­ite role?
All of them! Lies. Prince Albrecht in Gis­elle is one of my favour­ites. Walk­ing around with a cape and flowers is some­thing I like to do on an almost daily basis. Oh, the glamour.

What role have you never played but would like to?
Dr Frank N Fur­ter, of The Rocky Hor­ror Show.

What’s your favour­ite bal­let to watch?
My favour­ite bal­let to watch is George Balanchine’s Ser­en­ade.

Who is your favour­ite cho­reo­grapher?
George Bal­anchine. Also referred to as Him.

Who is your favour­ite writer?
Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mys­ter­i­ous Island, Jour­ney to the Cen­ter of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and many more!

Who is your favour­ite dir­ector?
Hayao Miyazaki. My favour­ite film of his is Howl’s Mov­ing Castle. Close seconds are Prin­cess Mononoke, Naus­icaa of the Val­ley of the Wind, The Cat Returns, Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice, Porco Rosso, Spir­ited Away… so, pretty much all of his films.

Who is your favour­ite actor?
Miss Piggy.

Who is your favour­ite singer?
My favour­ite male vocal­ist is Seal and my favour­ite female vocal­ist is Toni Brax­ton. Prince and Stevie Nicks are also favourites.

What is your favour­ite book?
The Bible! Just kid­ding. I adore sci-fi/fantasy. Patrick Roth­fuss’ Kingkiller Chron­icle is incred­ible. It’s such a poignant mix of ima­gin­a­tion and lit­er­at­ure! The first two books are titled The Name of the Wind, and A Wise Man’s Fear.

Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside in ABT’s Swan Lake photo Andrea Mohin 495x500 James Whiteside answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition
Gil­lian Murphy and James Whiteside in ABT’s Swan Lake — photo Andrea Mohin
What is your favour­ite film?
As far as impact on my life, I’d have to say Tina Fey’s MeanGirls. When I was a teen­ager, it taught me how to be mean while at least know­ing I’m being mean.

Which is your favour­ite city?
I have three. New York City (duh), Tokyo, and Paris. The trifecta.

What do you like most about your­self?
My ima­gin­a­tion! It’s crazy in there!

What do you dis­like about your­self?
My inab­il­ity to cope with large din­ner parties. Table for eight? No thank you.

What was your proudest moment?
When I was pro­moted to Prin­cipal Dan­cer at Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre.

When and where were you hap­pi­est?
I was naïve and com­pla­cent in my early twen­ties. I had incred­ible friends, fam­ily, really. We drank and smoked a lot, and work was sec­ond­ary to the time and exper­i­ences we shared. They’re all still my best friends. As the rap­per Drake once rapped, “No new friends”, just old friends.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I have so many great loves. Music is the earth I stand on. I’d abso­lutely wither away without it! Dance, lit­er­at­ure, food, cof­fee, video games, films, and let’s not for­get Dan Donigan and my cat, Ms Bit!

What is your greatest fear?
I’ve never lost any­one truly close to me. I’m ter­ri­fied of how it will affect me. How­ever, I don’t fear my own death.

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be?
I would change my inab­il­ity to cope with large din­ner parties. Le winke smiley wink James Whiteside answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition.

What do you con­sider your greatest achieve­ment?
Some­how, I became a bal­let dan­cer! I had no interest in becom­ing a bal­let dan­cer until my mid to late teens. I never thought I’d be a Prin­cipal Dan­cer in a major bal­let com­pany, let alone ABT!

What is your most treas­ured pos­ses­sion?
Can I say my cat? My cat.

What is your greatest extra­vag­ance?
My Man­hat­tan apart­ment is eas­ily the most expens­ive thing I own.

What do you con­sider the most over­rated vir­tue?
Patience. Some­times, you just gotta tell some­body what’s what.

On what occa­sion do you lie?
Some­times, I tell people it’s good to see them when it’s not.

If you hadn’t been a dan­cer what would you have liked to be?
I would have swindled my way into the arts come hell or high water. I’d be a musi­cian, or an actor, or a car­toon­ist… you name it!

What is your most marked char­ac­ter­istic?
I like to make up words. People who know me can vouch for that. If you know me long enough, you’ll be flu­ent in my made up language.

What qual­ity do you most value in a friend?
Humour. If you don’t make me laugh, begone!

What qual­ity do you most value in a col­league?
Kind­ness and respect. I have no time for evil divas.

Which his­tor­ical fig­ure do you most admire?
The sci­entific geni­uses of the past: Ein­stein, Coper­ni­cus, Galileo, Curie, Planck, Tesla, etc. Talk about chan­ging the world! It all star­ted with curi­os­ity and a little imagination.

Which liv­ing per­son do you most admire?
To stick with the sci­ent­ist theme, I choose Stephen Hawk­ing. If you haven’t read any of his books, do it! Reader, that’s your homework.

What do you most dis­like?
Oh you know, use­less killing and the like, but on a more per­son­ally rel­ev­ant scale, gigantic strollers. It drives me insane when people traipse down the side­walk with a baby stroller the size of Texas. Often, the chil­dren are entirely too old to be wheeled around. Get out and walk!

What tal­ent would you most like to have?
I wish I was the best singer in the universe.

What’s your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness?
Per­fect hap­pi­ness is con­tent­ment with one’s life. Enjoy­ing the people you love, achiev­ing one’s goals, and laugh­ing often are just a few things that are import­ant to me.

How would you like to die?
Quickly and not so old that I’m a pile of goo on poly­es­ter sheets.

What is your motto?
I’m still work­ing on one. I always cop out and use this quote from Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show: “Don’t dream it. Be it.” Good, right? Mine’s not so good. It goes some­thing like, “Use logic and don’t be an asshole.” I guess I still have some work to do.

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