AT A GLANCE
Up close and personal with Kirk White
Favourite musical influences: Everything from Maurice Ravel to Led Zeppelin to MGMT.
Favourite food: Traditional turkey dinner.
StepCrew website: http://stepcrew.com.
© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Montague High School teacher Kirk White shows a cast photo of the StepCrew. He is the drummer for the show that recently completed a tour of Japan. He joined the troupe in 2007 and tours during his summer and winter vacations.
Kirk White lives in two worlds.
In one, he is a music teacher and band director at Montague Regional High School.
In the other, he’s the drummer for the StepCrew, an Ontario-based show that features some of the world’s top talents in Irish step-dancing, Ottawa Valley step-dancing and modern tap backed up with a five-piece band.
While one world has him teaching theory and a musical repertoire, the other has him performing across North America, whenever time permits.
Although it makes life hectic at times, White says he wouldn’t change it for the world.
“It’s great to have a teaching job, which I love, but this gives me opportunity to perform professionally. So I like having my feet in both worlds,” says the Charlottetown resident who just returned from the StepCrew’s first-ever tour of Japan.
“I had been to Europe several times, but I had never been to Asia. It was amazing, especially the culture,” he says.
He and his fellow cast members did six shows in six different cities in 11 days.
“It was a whirlwind ... an incredible experience,” says White.
The show, which features award-winning step dancers Jon and Nathan Pilatzke, who are known for their work with The Chieftains, played to sold-out audiences in Shizuoka, Hyogo, Shiga, Fukui and Musashino and Tokyo.
Each night after the final encore, cast members posed for pictures and signed autographs.
“The thing that struck me was how friendly the people were. Everyone was so gracious,” says White, who studied music at UPEI.
But they didn’t go to Japan just to do the shows.
“We had rehearsals, so things were quite busy. One day we would do a show, the next day we would travel to the next venue and do the tech and rehearse some more.
“Luckily, we travelled with a lighting designer and a sound engineer who would go in and get things ready for us,” he says.
Back on P.E.I., White said the thing that makes it possible to work in two worlds is the support he gets from the administration at his school.
“The principal has been wonderful,” he says.
Seana Evans-Renaud says the reason she has been so supportive of him being in a musical production is that it makes him a better teacher.
“All of those experiences lend themselves to enriching his own students. They see that he started off in band, just like they did, and now he’s made a career out of it; one that’s allowed him to travel extensively and go to Asia.
“It’s something very few people have the opportunity to do,” she says.
And, although it was a work trip, the last leg turned into a vacation for White.
“On the final three nights, we checked into this terrific hotel in downtown Tokyo. We had a day off and then we did our final show. And the next day we had off.
“The production company that took care of us took us everywhere. After the show, they took us out to eat. And on our day off one of them rented a van and took us all over Tokyo to different tourist attractions,” he says.
While the biggest highlight of the trip was sightseeing, the biggest disappointment was not meeting a certain rock star.
“When I first arrived in Japan, I was under the weather so I stayed in the hotel room while my band mates went to Kyoto. My friend, Rob Becker, who is the bass player, met Joe Perry from Aeorsmith. He’s a hero of mine. And if I had been with them I would have had my picture taken with Joe Perry,” he says.
But he didn’t stay disappointed for long.
“Who knows who I’ll meet on the next trip? The show is going to Califorinia in February and Texas in March.
“The second one falls on my March break, which is perfect.”