Legendary dancer and Los Angeles native Chester Whitmore has choreographed a train-themed performance for a free Metro Art event at the Union Station Ticketing Hall on Friday, July 14 at 8:30 p.m.
Whitmore started his dance career at the Inner City Cultural Center right after graduating from Dorsey High School. After his teenage years, his career took off, going on to perform all over the world. Whitmore has worked with everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna, to the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Miles Davis. Most recently, he choreographed scenes in the Oscar-winning film La La Land.
Not only is Whitmore a dancer, but he has many other careers and facets. He is a filmmaker, musician, historian and educator. He instructs at dance boot camps and also teaches at Los Angeles City College, where he was once a student.
“We live in a world where there is continuous information around us,” said Whitmore. “If I can spark something in their mind to make them want to go out and research the truth, that makes me happy.”
Whitmore also continues to connect with the youth because he is an advocate for the older and younger generations working together.
“I stay with the youth and find out what they are doing. I try to guide them because somebody guided me. The seniors say, ‘those young nipper snappers don’t know what they’re talking about,’ and the younger group will say, ‘those old folks don’t know what they’re talking about,'” said Whitmore. “I tell them that they both have something to offer. One is stability. The older gives a stronger foundation. Then the youth gives you the energy and the drive to keep moving so we should keep those two together.”
The event on Friday represents some of the guidance that Whitmore received when he was young, as one of his mentors was Fayard Nicholas from the famous tap dancing Nicholas Brothers. The event will feature Whitmore’s Tap & Jazz Revue and all the dances will be about trains. The names of the dances include Take the A Train, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and Red Car Boogie.
“I’m glad that Los Angeles keeps historical landmarks because Union Station has a lot of history. A lot of people who traveled across the country to get to Los Angeles took the train,” said Whitmore. “We’re going to talk about different songs, different dances. It’s going to be like a concert. It’ll be really fun.”
Whitmore has accomplished many different careers and still continues to grow. He says that it is important to learn and experience all the many different facets of life and use them all as tools. What he learns about music through conducting, he uses in dance. What he learns about the movement from dance, he uses in his filmmaking. For Whitmore, knowledge is a continuous cycle.
“You never know your talents, you never know what you can do unless you go out there and see it,” said Whitmore. “So I juggle it all and blend it all together.”
You can find Whitmore on Facebook and YouTube by typing in Chester A. Whitmore. The event at the Union Station Ticketing Hall is completely free and open to the public. No reservation is needed.