Some people have a way of making anything they touch better. They have a natural ability to remain calm, positive, and provide thoughtful, constructive advice. Dance Wisconsin is lucky to have one such person helping guide the organization! Rodger White has been involved with Dance Wisconsin for forty years. Currently serving as the Board of Director’s President, Rodger also performs in Dance Wisconsin’s Nutcracker Ballet and its spring ballet repertoire. Most recently, Rodger has performed the role of Uncle Drosselmeyer in Nutcracker, and will debut the role of Duchess in Dance Wisconsin’s upcoming Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ballet, April 9 and 10, 2016.
Last Nutcracker, I was drafted to be one of the prop “masters,” and I was relieved and grateful to be mentored by Rodger. Usually my volunteer duties involve things that need to be completed prior to opening night. If a hair bow is too messy, or a tiara needs extra bedazzling, I am your gal. This role required me to be responsible and focused throughout rehearsals and dress rehearsals. And I had to be reliable during performances people PAID money to attend. I was nervous! Lucky for me, I had Rodger guiding me throughout rehearsals and performances. His quiet yet confident manner reassured me that all would be OK. I also observed that Rodger put many other cast members and volunteers at ease. He is willing to share his experiences with the company and cast, discuss his roles and props during community demonstrations, and take time to help others in need. His leadership and support of Dance Wisconsin over the years has truly made Dance Wisconsin a top-notch professional organization.
People’s journeys leading them to their passions/hobbies have always interested me. Rodger’s journey is especially of interest. Throughout our time spent together, Rodger and I had time to discuss some of the history surrounding his work with Dance Wisconsin–it is pretty amazing.
Rodger grew up in Prairie du Chien, WI. He moved to Madison after graduating from high school. While attending the University of Wisconsin, he decided to audition for the Theater Guild’s production of Oklahoma! He became hooked. During the late 1960’s and early ’70’s Rodger had the opportunity to live and work in London. He danced with Sidonne Scott Dancers and three other theater groups. His interest in performing arts continued to grow, especially after having the opportunity to view the Royal Ballet’s Anthony Dowel, Margot Fonteyn, and Fredrick Ashton perform at the Royal Opera House. Rodger has trained with Nan Gilbert, Ginna Davis, Tibor Zana, Bess Zana, Barbara Carson, and Charmaine Ristow. He has performed with Kanopy Dance, Anna Nassif Dance Theater, Children’s Theater of Madison, and Madison Savoyards. When the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble was formed, Rodger become involved. He has been dancing with JoJean Retrum ever since. Mother Ginger and Mother Simone are two of his most favorite roles to perform. Rodger enjoys the fact that these two roles allow him to have fun with acting and dancing while portraying the over the top characters. When Rodger responds to questions about why he continues to support and perform with Dance Wisconsin, he answers candidly. Dance Wisconsin provides young people opportunities to learn about and perform challenging lead roles. Company dancers, some as young as fourteen are skillfully performing the “Snow Pas,” “Marzipan,” and “Rose” in Nutcracker. Their training is exceptional, they are ready to dance professionally or at a college dance program directly upon high school graduation. The company allows them the materials and venues to explore and share choreography, costume design, and community outreach programming. The organization advocates for and executes accessible arts for all.
You can see Rodger White perform his “Duchess” role in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Mitby Theater, April 9 and 10, at 2:00 PM. Order Your Tickets Now!