James B. Whiteside is a triple-threat act.
“Performing, for me, is the culmination of a lot of work,” Whiteside told In The Know. “I step out on stage and I become a different person.”
That’s many different people to be exact. Whiteside has been a principal ballet dancer with the American Ballet Theatre since 2012, goes by the stage name JbDubs to produce electronic dance hall music and performs as a drag queen throughout New York City — to name a few major highlights from his impressive resume.
Whiteside has been dancing since he was nine but didn’t start training in classical ballet until he was a teenager. “When I was younger, I felt a lot of insecurity when I was dancing, actually,” Whiteside said. “I was very self-aware in a negative way.”
A lot has changed since then. “As I get older and I gain confidence and experience, I can actually lose my insecurity while I’m on stage. And those are the times when I really feel like I might be doing the right thing.”
In ballet, principal dancers are respected throughout the dance world and also earn the biggest, headlining roles. To earn a spot requires years of learning technique and working up the ladder — sometimes rehearsing for 12 hours a day.
“With classical ballet, I reign in my character a little bit,” Whiteside explains. “But I need an outlet, so that’s why I created my alter egos.”
JbDubs — Whiteside’s “pop star alter ego” — racks up hundreds of thousands of videos on YouTube, where Whiteside posts a mix of his original tracks and music videos. Whiteside also performs drag as Ühu Betch throughout New York City, along with his boyfriend Dan, in a group called the Dairy Queens.
“Being myself or not being myself doesn’t really feel like a question. It’s a very obvious choice for me and I’ve been very fortunate to be able to express myself,” Whiteside said. “‘Black Swan’ would have you believe that we’re all insane and horrible to each other, but we’re really supportive, kind people.”
To fulfill all of these creative roles, Whiteside works hard every day. It helps tremendously that he’s come to a place in his career and life as a dancer to feel content with everything going on around him.
“I always really was comfortable with myself — it’s other people who weren’t comfortable with me,” he said. “And so, to have a space where you could be embraced and all that bull**** flies away, and you’ve got music and work. And I just dance.”
Watch the full episode of In The Know: Profiles above to learn more about James B. Whiteside and his world of dance.
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