‘Shadows of the Mind’ Dance repertoire shines at JHOP

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Tai White was in a car with a friend four years ago when he came up with the idea of “Shadows of the Mind,” which was performed by the next wave of local dance and theatre artists at John Hopkins Middle School (JHOP) last Saturday evening.

White shared that 14 of the 22 dancers were from JHOP and the other dancers he had worked with before. He had to narrow his selection based on who could best pull off the routines.

White joined the John Hopkins Performing Arts Department as an adjunct dance instructor under the leadership of Michelle Johnson in 2013. He was not always the creative kinesthetic ball of movement that graced the stage last weekend. His move from New York to St. Petersburg was traumatic for him as a child.

“I noticed that the thought patterns between people from the north and south were quite different,” said White. This difference that White experienced caused him to withdraw himself into the world of only himself and his family.

As he reached his teen years, the withdrawal evolved into anger to the point where he didn’t care about how he projected himself because the projection of himself became a weapon or a tool depending on how he wanted to use it.

“Growing into a young man, a lot of things were going on that I didn’t understand, which made me even angrier,” said White. So what could deflate the destructive energy of anger for White? “It was my relationship with Jesus Christ,” said White. “It was definitely a spiritual journey for me to get to where I am now.”

The explosion of every color in the rainbow spectrum and the genre of dance from ballet to spiritual praise in “Shadows of the Mind” rocked the audience for an hour-and-a-half. White hopes to take his showcase overseas in the near future.

White said that every now and then he sees a mini version of himself in his classes at JHOP.

“When I see certain expressions, I can tell exactly what that student is thinking because I’ve been there wearing that same look,” said White. Some students are shocked when he tells them what they are thinking because he’s right.

White has evolved as an artist, teacher and person since his earlier years in south St. Petersburg, but there will always be detractors.

“First, you have to understand them,” said White. “They don’t necessarily dislike you. It’s themselves, something that they wanted to do, but didn’t do or were afraid to do. Once you understand that about them, you can deal with them better.”

A standing ovation at the end of the performance signaled that there were no haters in the JHOP house.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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