Todd Rosenlieb Dance

Pulling Back the Curtain

  • March 17, 2020

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.

Todd Rosenlieb Dance

Dear Friends,

As a valued member of Todd Rosenlieb Dance (TRD), Virginia Ballet Theatre (VBT) and the TRDance Center family, we’re reaching out to you during an unprecedented time of need. We’ve overcome many operational challenges in the past (recessions, natural disasters, etc.), but COVID-19 is uncharted territory for us all.

Our partnership with you through the years, has allowed us to provide an educational, directorial and performance space for students, dancers and choreographers who need to create to be their best selves. And by doing so, many of us have benefited from the magic and transformative power of dance. As performers and audience members we have connected. We have moved, engaged, entertained, laughed and sometimes, cried together.

With the temporary closing of our studio spaces and cancellation of the spring performance calendar for VBT and TRD, we are facing unparalleled operational challenges. We are working hard to recreate the way we do business, but the unexpected closing of TRDance Center has had significant financial implications for our professional dancers, staff, directors, teachers and technical crew. Ticket sales, student classes and Academy tuition accounts for half of our operating budget. The other half is from funding and generous contributions.

Will you consider taking a step to help during this challenging time? Your continued generosity will help sustain our two professional dance companies and the dancers, guest artists and choreographers who create art during these uncertain times.

Here are some ways you can help —

Although our performance season is currently paused, we are now creating ways to connect with our students and audiences in new ways that support social distancing, while still feeding our need to create art and connection. This week we’ve gone LIVE! with a collection of virtual teachings for open and structured classes at Please join us for a session soon. It will do your mind and body good to just dance.

On behalf of our professional staff, dancers and our Board of Directors we thank you in advance for your continued support.

Be safe,

Lisbet Hanson, M.D.
TRDance Board of Directors

Todd Rosenlieb
Founder & Artist Director

Ricardo Melendez
Artistic Director, VBT
Associate Artistic Director, TRDance