A Q&A with Company Member Morgan White
By Beth Blachman
Morgan White’s path has come full circle. He got his BA at Christopher Newport University, studying theater and dance, and he performed with TRDance from 2007-2009 before heading to New York City to work as a professional actor and dancer. Morgan was based out of NYC for ten years, appearing in a wide variety of shows—from the national tour of Cats to JAZZ at Lincoln Center. Morgan is now back in town and the company is thrilled to have him back. In addition to performing with TRDance and Virginia Ballet Theatre, he also teaches dance and theater at studios around Hampton Roads.
What’s a typical day in the theater like for you?
A typical day for me includes a full body warm-up in the morning before I take class with the company and have rehearsal into the afternoon. I plan my meals and snacks throughout the day so that I eat enough to sustain the physical activity of dancing, but not so much that I would feel ill while dancing. I often work out in the gym after rehearsal too, to cross-train and keep my stamina up.
Do you eat any differently on the day of a show?
On the day of a show I tend to eat pretty light and don’t eat any new or unusual foods so that my body feels comfortable and ready to perform.
Do you have a favorite memory from your life as a performer?
My favorite performance memories are from productions of West Side Story. I have been lucky enough to do three productions in my time, and each one has led me to new discoveries about the show, the characters involved, and myself. The music is entrancing, and the story is poignant and still very relevant today. A couple productions I have been a part of have even performed for President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Colin Powell.
Do you get nervous on the day of a show?
Generally, I don’t get nervous before a performance, but I do feel an excitement and an adrenaline rush before a show.
What are five things you always make sure to pack on show days?
Snacks, water, extra underwear (just in case!), hair product, and my toothbrush/toothpaste.
What goes through your head when you’re performing?
So many things go through my head when I’m performing! Generally I’m focused on telling the story of the moment, but I am also constantly checking in with the music (is there a tricky rhythm or an offbeat?); analyzing my technique and body placement; paying attention to what my dance partner is doing and thinking ahead to our next lift; checking in with my breathing and making sure it is controlled and focused. It may seem like a lot to think about at once, but making all of the hard work seem effortless is what ballet and live theater are all about.
If you could tell your younger dancer self some advice about performing or life as a dancer in general, what would it be?
I would have told myself to start training much younger! All kidding aside, something I discovered as an adult dancer and performer is just how many different paths exist for dancers and performing artists. One of the challenges and joys of a performance career is that there is no set, specific path to follow or ladder to climb. Success is unique and specific to each artist.