Dance Dance Revolution
Fast Company|Summer 2021
Ballet principal James Whiteside has expanded the audience for his art by pushing its boundaries.
By Yasmin Gagne

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.

DON’T BE DEFINED BY REJECTION

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAST COMPANYView All

THE ASCENT OF SARA NELSON

ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS PRESIDENT SARA NELSON HAS BECOME THE MOST PROMINENT LABOR LEADER IN AMERICA. NOW SHE’S POISED TO HELP THE ENTIRE LABOR MOVEMENT TAKE OFF.

10+ mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Making investing accessible for everyone

APEX IS LEADING A MOVEMENT AIMED AT DEMOCRATIZING PERSONAL FINANCE

2 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Forging a path to carbon transparency

HOW LOGITECH’S LOW-CARBON DESIGN STRATEGY IS TRANSFORMING AN INDUSTRY

2 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Devil's Bargain? Not Anymore

Artists need brands for func=ding. Brands need artists for authenticity. Here's why selling out has lost its stigma.

6 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Bearing fruit with groundbreaking marketing

INNOVATION IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO BRAND’S MARKET PENETRATION AND IMPRESSIVE GROWTH

2 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Planet Airbnb

The home-rental giant was already at a crossroads—both financially and spiritually—when COVID-19 brought travel to a halt. Now it’s looking for new purpose (and profitability) in a post-pandemic world.

10+ mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

6 Creative Ways Workers Are Taking Back Power

When workers align with local constituents to fight for shared goals, it strengthens their campaign.

8 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

The Amber Ruffin Show – Amber On Air

Late-night TV host and groundbreaking comedy writer Amber Ruffin explains what can happen when you think like a performer.

6 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Dance Dance Revolution

Ballet principal James Whiteside has expanded the audience for his art by pushing its boundaries.

5 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021

Hiring Heroes: Why Veterans Make Great Tech Employees

Military veterans come with the soft skills employers value most, and many have backgrounds in technology

4 mins read
Fast Company
Summer 2021