Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

DANCE PROFILE Getting to know Lucky Plush dancer Aaron-Raheim White
by Joanna Furnans
2018-04-18

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


How does one go from being a quiet young boy with an unstable home to being a successful Reiki master-teacher and MFA in dance? This isn't a rags-to-riches story, energy healers and dancers being on the lower rungs of the economic hierarchy in this country. But Aaron-Raheim White—a dancer with Chicago dance-theater company Lucky Plush—has a story steeped in self-discovery, proclamation and authenticity.

White was born to a teenage mother in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. His early years were spent between apartments, shelters, great aunts' and grandmothers' houses. As a kid, he kept quiet and stayed under the radar amidst an extended family of cousins. By the time he was in the second grade, school was the main source of consistency in his life and he developed a deep appreciation and attachment for his teachers. This was especially true when he started taking dance classes from Deirdre Dawson—a former dancer with Chicago's renowned Joseph Holmes Dance Theater—at age 14.

"She gave me this gift that I am forever grateful for," White recalled. "I had no idea that I knew how to dance or that I would like it. It was so specific and required focus to attain mastery. I liked that. I was constantly being challenged and held accountable. I was a great kid, I kept good grades and did all the things, but I didn't feel like people were holding me accountable or really showing up for me, not like Ms. Dawson was. She was always there and she kept me on track. When I slacked, she brought me back. Everybody else just assumed that I was fine because I was one of the good ones. So I kinda got overlooked because I was the good one."

Coincidentally, or not, this was right around the time that White came out as gay. Proving a strength of character well beyond his years, White declared his sexuality in an environment that was far from accepting. He explained, "Growing up, watching TV, I saw gay people but they were always white. And whenever they came out it was always 'We love you, we accept you, it will be fine, la la la.' I knew that being Black and gay was absolutely unheard of. And most of my family was drug dealers and gang-bangers so the idea of there being a gay person in the family was just unheard of. So there was never space for me in that way."

"When I accepted my gayness," White continued, "it was the first thing I knew for sure. Once I knew, I couldn't un-know. So when I came out, I came out with such a force that I kind of kicked the closet open," he said laughing. "I refused to be silenced because most of my life I had been silent. I knew what my voice was."

Fast-forward some tough and terrific years, to a scholarship to the dance program at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign ( UIUC ) followed by a master of fine arts degree from the prestigious New York University Tisch School of the Arts. White remained in New York City dancing, touring, teaching and studying to become a Reiki master-teacher. The energy work may sound like it comes out of left field but, for White, there is a strong connection between prayer—which he learned to rely on as a child in his grandmother's home—meditation, magic and healing.

"Prayer has been something that has kept me going. Whenever things got to be too much I always knew that I could talk to Spirit, I could talk to Goddess, I could talk to God and just release anything that I had on me so that I could lighten up…

I know that magic exists; it just ain't woo-woo like we think it is. Magic got me into healing. Reiki is magic to me because it's a wrinkle in time and space of a person's body. You are changing the energy and the way that it functions in order to allow for healing, wholeness, groundedness and fluidity."

With these foundations in place, White eventually realized he was ready to leave New York. He didn't necessarily intend to return to Chicago but a chance encounter with Lucky Plush company members while teaching a master class back at UIUC led to drinks and karaoke, which led to a company class, followed by an invitation to rehearsal, followed by an offer to hire. That last development happened two years ago.

"What I really enjoy about working with Lucky Plush is how it commands and demands so much of me artistically. Meaning, how much I am required to be able to think quickly, to respond authentically and to live in the present moment," White said. Arguably, Julia Rhodes—founder and artistic director of Lucky Plush—requires that presence from her audience as well, as she delivers highly charged cultural messages disguised with a bit of quick wit. Her work is never punishingly political but it certainly does touch on the relevant social issues of our time.

White is clear about the significance of his representation on stage. "[Performing] is an opportunity for people to see a Black, queer, masc-presenting-femme on stage living as a person. Just my presence alone helps to dismantle some of their misconstrued ideas about what it means to be me, in my body, and how I exist in the world. Even if the choreography or piece doesn't address that directly, my presence addresses that thing. And I absolutely love shaking people up."

Lucky Plush presents "Tab Show" Thursday-Friday, April 26-27, 7:30 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St. Purchase tickets at HarrisTheaterChicago.org or 312-334-7777.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER Larry Kramer (1935-2020), polemicist and playwright 2020-05-30 - Larry Kramer was an angry man and he made sure people knew it. The language of his public discourse—the hundreds of articles he ...


Gay News

Jeff Awards Nominee Night cabaret concert online June 1 2020-05-29 - The Non-Equity Jeff Awards Nominee Night concert, a version of the annual event at Sidetrack to showcase Jeff Award nominees, will be broadcast ...


Gay News

Chita: A Legendary Celebration to stream May 29 2020-05-27 - Chita: A Legendary Celebration , Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' one-night-only evening of song and dance celebrating the legendary Chita Rivera , returns this ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rufus Wainwright, LGBTQ films, Billy Porter, Janelle Monae 2020-05-27 - Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright unveiled the latest single from his eagerly anticipated new pop album, Unfollow the Rules, a press release noted. "Alone ...


Gay News

THEATER Pride in Place Festival brings LGBTQ theater to stay-at-home audiences 2020-05-26 - The upheaval of the Stonewall riots had barely settled before the weekend preceding Independence Day was set aside to honor the right of ...


Gay News

BAMtheatre starting virtual classes 2020-05-26 - In response to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMtheatre has reimagined its musical theatre-focused programming through a ...


Gay News

Steppenwolf names first woman Executive Director 2020-05-22 - Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced that Brooke Flanagan—who previously worked at Steppenwolf for seven years—will return to the organization in the role of executive ...


Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW To Master the Art 2020-05-22 - Playwright: William Brown and Doug Frew. At: TimeLine Theatre, streaming. Tickets: TimelineTheatre.com; $15-$25. Runs through: June 7 TimeLine Theatre commissioned To ...


Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play 2020-05-22 - Playwright: Jocelyn Bioh At: Goodman Theatre online at GoodmanTheatre.org/StreamSchoolGirls. Tickets: $20. Runs through: May 31 Ranking in popularity on the list of ...


Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW The Happiest Place on Earth 2020-05-21 - Playwright: Philip Dawkins At: Sideshow Theatre online. Tickets: SideshowTheatre.org; $5+ ( pay what you can ). Runs through: Open run Playwright Philip ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.