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Watch James Whiteside Work the Thom Browne Runway in a Tutu and Pointe Shoes

James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.


"I danced as the character 'M. Brun,' who generously opens his garden to visitors once a year," Whiteside told Vogue. "Thom was very open to whatever choreographic ideas I had and gave me clear references, as far as tone. My character is a proud and artful loner, with a generous spirit."

The Parisian fashion crowd was blown away by Whiteside's impressive skills on pointe (already well-known to dance fans, as are his skills in six-inch heels). Also impressive? The fact that Whiteside jetted to Paris smack-dab in the middle of ABT's epic Metropolitan Opera House season. He danced Lescaut in Manon in NYC on Thursday night, took to the runway in Paris on Saturday, and will be back at the Met as Prince Siegfried tomorrow.

"My friends at Thom Browne contacted me and asked if I was available to go to Paris during June. I said, 'Absolutely not,'" Whiteside told Vogue. "Then they told me what it was for and I said 'Absolutely, yes!'"

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The Washington Ballet's NEXTsteps program opens this week. Here are company dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Alexandros Papajohn. Procopio Photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.

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