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 2019-11-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



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

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 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.


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Megan Rapinoe, 'High School Musical,' Roxane Gay, 'Paris Is Burning' 2019-11-18 - Soccer star Megan Rapinoe accepted Glamour's Woman of the Year award—another addition to her hardware collection that includes the Golden Ball award as ...

Gay News

YEPP holds second annual 'Rise Up' event 2019-11-16 - Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) held its second annual Rise Up: A Celebration of Resilience Nov. 13 at Chicago Theater Works. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Rutherford and Son 2019-11-16 - Playwright: Githa Sowerby At: Timeline Theatre Company at Baird Hall, 615 W. Wellington Ave. Tickets: and 773-281-8463; $42. Runs through: Jan. 12 ...

Gay News

Opera Review Don Giovanni 2019-11-15 - Score: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto: Lorenzo Da Ponte At: Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive. Tickets: 312-827-5600 or; $39-$299.. Runs ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Always … Patsy Cline 2019-11-15 - Back then, stars traveled without entourages, stayed at motels, flew single engine planes and were easier to meet. Houston housewife Louise Seger met ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Packing 2019-11-13 - Playwright: Scott Bradley At: About Face Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-975-8150 or; $20-$38. Runs through Dec. 7 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Romeo and Juliet 2019-11-13 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave. Tickets: 312-595-5600; $35-$90. Runs through: Dec. 22 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW P.Y.G. or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle 2019-11-13 - Playwright: Tearrance Arvelle Chisolm At: Jackalope Theatre Company @ Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway. Tickets:; $27-$35. Runs through: Dec. 21 ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-11-13 - The Effect, Strawdog Theatre Company, through Nov. 23: Is love in the brain or in the mind, playwright Lucy Prebble asks, and can ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Sombras Tango Cabaret 2019-11-13 - It's a short run for Sombras Tango Cabaret, only through this weekend, but it promises to be exotic and colorful with the sensuality ...


Copyright © 2019 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.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos 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.