American Ballet Theatre principal dancer James Whiteside has built a career playing romantic leads onstage, from Romeo to Swan Lake’s Prince Siegfried. Offstage, he creates experimental music, choreography, and more through bombastic online alter egos, such as a singer named JbDubs, A drag artist Ühu Beach, and a turkey-baster-r James Whiteside has built a career playing romantic leads onstage, from Romeo to Swan Lake’s Prince Siegfried. Offstage, he creates experimental music, choreography, and more through bombastic online alter egos, such as a singer named JbDubs, Adrag artist ÜhuBetch, and a turkey-baster-wielding journalist called Shannon Bobannon (who “fires news like a cannon”). As theaters went dark during the pandemic, the New York–based Whiteside began putting out a flood of original content on Instagram and YouTube: going behind the scenes of his workouts and rehearsals, offering live dance classes, creating comedic skits, and debuting inventive music videos. In the process, he has demystified the rarified world of ballet. “People think ballet is inaccessible or overly haughty,” he says. “I take pride in bringing it to a very large audience.” Here’s how he’s embraced discipline while subverting expectations.
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