• Speaker dances his way to a message of support

      By Mike Genet |mike.genet@examiner.net |Posted Aug. 29, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    • Motivational speaker Brandon Lee White encourages Blue Springs High School to "feel the love" after an amusing re-enactment of the high school slow dance scene during his speech Friday.

The key to just about any moment in life, Brandon Lee White implored the students at Blue Springs High School, is to “Own it,” or to help somebody else do the same.

White, a 29-year-old, Kansas City-area native, spoke for a pair of assemblies Friday to cap the school’s Week of Gratitude organized by the Student Senate, using dance as a way to teach students to be brave and step outside their comfort zones.

A Rockhurst University graduate (bachelor’s and master’s), White has been on the speaking circuit for several years, after working as a professional ballroom dance instructor (he still offers lessons), speaking to students and adults alike, schools and corporations, on topics ranging from character, leadership and management. White has been on TLC, Discovery Health, Fit TV and TEDx with his work.

“I feel like I’m in my element; I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” White said afterward. “There’s so much with dance that I like to use as a vehicle to convey my message.”

White asked for volunteers for several short skits – mimicking his moves, dancing to a theme and, as one girl found out once she got up to the stage, dance the tango for the first time. He also gave an amusing re-enactment of the often-awkward high school slow dance scene.

White showed a video of a dance student he once instructed who was wheelchair-bound due to spina bifida and didn’t have legs. It doesn’t stop her from dancing, though.

“You don’t need legs to dance; you need a will to dance,” he said. “You need to a will to do things, to take the risk to do what’s uncomfortable.

“If getting on stage is easy, then you need to do what’s hard for you. But, you won’t do it if you don’t see yourself as someone who can do it.”

Student Senate Vice President Hallee Arnold said White had spoken at a summer camp the senate attended, and she thought he would be the perfect fit for such an assembly.

“He helped us with our mission statement – told us to own it,” added Hayden Ludwig, senate president. “He wanted us to think as if we signed our own name to it rather than just the senate.”

White talked of how he had to overcome a speech impediment as a child, and shyness from that led to him becoming too overweight to be an effective basketball player in junior high. When he took up the suggestion to join the cross country team, his friend Brian pushed him through early training sessions, and he went to be a regular winner in cross country races. The confidence gained from that convinced him to do student council, and at a summer camp he was drawn by a motivational speaker – the initial spark to what now is his job.

“School and life is all just a bunch of moments,” White told the students. “What you do in this moment determines what the next moment is.  You have to do what you don’t want to do [practice, sacrifice, etc.], so you can do what you want to do.”