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Harvard Book Store Virtual Event: James Whiteside

August 18, 2021 @ 7:00 pm


August 18, 2021
7:00 pm
Event Category:


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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presenting Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet
in conversation with ANITA ELBERSE

Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes JAMES WHITESIDE—drag performer, pop star, and a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre—for a discussion of his debut memoir, Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet. He will be joined in conversation by ANITA ELBERSE, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store

While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Center Center on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.

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About Center Center

There’s a mark on every stage around the world that signifies the center of its depth and width, called “center center.” James Whiteside has dreamed of standing on that very mark as a principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre ever since he was a twelve-year-old blown away by watching the company’s spring gala. The GLAMOUR. The VIRTUOSITY. The RIPPED MEN IN TIGHTS!

In this absurd and absurdist collection of essays, Whiteside tells us the story of how he got to be a primo ballerino—stopping along the way to muse about the tragically fated childhood pets who taught him how to feel, reminisce on ill-advised partying at summer dance camps, and imagine fantastical run-ins with Jesus on Grindr. Also in these pages are tales of the two alter egos he created to subvert the strict classical rigor of ballet: JbDubs, an out-and-proud pop musician, and Ühu Betch, an over-the-top drag queen named after Yoohoo chocolate milk.

Center Center is an exuberant behind-the-scenes tour of Whiteside’s triple life, both on- and offstage—a raunchy, curious, and unapologetic celebration of queerness, self-expression, friendship, sex, creativity, and pushing boundaries that will entertain you, shock you*, inspire you, embolden you . . . and maybe even make you cry.

Praise for Center Center

“James Whiteside is an electrifying performer, an incredible athlete, and an artist, through and through. To know James is to love him; with Center Center, you are about to fall in love. Hilarious, vulnerable, raucous, kind—James is all of that and a bag of chips, and it shows—in his photography, as his alter egos Ühu Betch and JbDubs, as a ballerino at the top of his profession, and in this all-out-on-the-table memoir.” —Jennifer Garner

“Drifting between fantasy and real life, James’s story reads like a beautifully twisted ballet with an exquisitely raw, hilarious, and fresh perspective. Center Center shows there’s a place in the world for anyone who’s ever felt lost, misunderstood, or outrageously passionate.” —Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer and New York Times bestselling author of Life in Motion

“A debut that’s deeply resonant—but no less raunchy for it. . . . The emotional core is firmly located in ‘Nancy,’ a novella-length biography of Whiteside’s ‘brilliant, complicated, unicorn of a mother’ that is breathtaking in its vulnerability and tenderness. . . . This entertaining account is easy to devour.” —Publishers Weekly