Ballet West Dancers Bring Romance to the Stage

Never mix business with pleasure? That can be a tough sell to artists, even the highly regimented Ballet West dancers. Let’s face it, dancers work closely together—very closely—and among all the choreographed caresses, something more than a professional commitment to creating onstage chemistry happens. Dancers will admit, sparks do fly.

“It’s an insular world,” says Beau Pearson, a former company member who met and married his wife, Emily Adams, while dancing at Ballet West. During the holiday season, for instance, these Sugarplums, Nutcracker Princes, Mechanical Dolls and Mice Kings may spend up to 12 hours a day, six days a week together performing the company’s iconic Nutcracker. We asked four of Ballet West’s devoted couples how they have handled workplace romance during the height of the ballet season.

THE COUPLE—LILLIAN CASSCELLS & BEAU CHESIVOIR

Lillian is a corps artist who joined Ballet West in 2017. She’s from Washington, D.C. Beau is also from D.C. and joined the company in 2018 as a corps artist. 

Ballet West dancers
BEAU: Jacket, Vintage YSL Blazer; Shirt, Slim Stretch Cotton Dress Shirt, Express; Pants, Tuxedo Pant, Nordstrom; Shoes, Calvin Klein Brodie Oxford, Nordstrom; Watch, Breitling Navitimer, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. LILLIAN: Dress, Heather Dress, Heggy Gonzalez @heggygonzalez; Jacket, Linda Richards Feather Jacket, Farasha; Bag, Chanel Coco Crossbody, The Lady Bag; Shoes, BP Lula Block Heel Sandal, Nordstrom; Earrings, Jade Trau Poppy Hoops with Diamond in 18K gold; Ring, Omi Privé with Green Tourmaline and Diamond in 18K gold, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Photography by Adam Finkle, styled by Farasha Vanessa Di Palma Wright & Harly Richards, makeup by Nikki Breedlove, hair by Tricia Snow,
art direction by Jeanine Miller.

THEIR STORY

Like the plot of any good romcom, Lillian Casscells and Beau Chesivoir often sparred during their early careers at Ballet West. But after COVID-19 sent them back to their hometowns, they lived just 10 minutes apart in the Washington, D.C. area. 

“If nobody makes me do something, I might just sit in bed all day,” laughs Lillian, describing how, with a career that demands so much of her body, she saw the time away as a respite. But, she says, Beau had different ideas. “He would call me to do some daily activity, like bike riding or painting in the park. It was just friends finding a way to get out,” she says. “But it made me so happy…and then I realized he made me happy.” (Read their full story)

THE COUPLE—DOMINIC BALLARD & VINICIUS LIMA

Dominic is a demi-soloist who joined Ballet West in 2017 and is originally from Albury, New South Wales, Australia. Vinicius is a corps artist who joined the company in 2018 and is from Vitória, Brazil.

Ballet West dancers
Dominic: Jacket, Rachel Gilbert Black Trench, Name Droppers; Shirt, Crochet Textured Shirt, Zara; Pants, Jacquard Suit Pants, Zara; Bracelet, John Hardy Bracelet in Sterling Silver, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Vinnie: Shirt, Saiid Kobeisy Bodysuit, Name Droppers; Pants, Topman Velvet Suit Pants, Nordstrom; Necklace, John Hardy Pearl Necklace in Sterling Silver; Bracelet, John Hardy in Sterling Silver; Rings, John Hardy Link Ring and Pearl Ring in Sterling Silver, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Photography by Adam Finkle, styled by Farasha Vanessa Di Palma Wright & Harly Richards, makeup by Nikki Breedlove, hair by Tricia Snow, art direction by Jeanine Miller.

THEIR STORY

Cooking for friends. It’s what Vinicius “Vinni” Lima and Dominic Ballard say they like best when they leave the Ballet West studios each day. Both agree their background comes out in their cooking. “Dominic loves to make gourmet recipes and I like to make my Latin ones,” says Vinni, with a teasing eye roll. “He’ll buy 20 ingredients to make one meal, and I’ll make 20 meals out of one ingredient.”

When Vinni joined Ballet West in 2018, he says he and Dominic bonded over shared culture shock and recent heartbreaks. (Read their full story)

THE COUPLE — VICTORIA VASSOS & HADRIEL DINIZ

Victoria joined Ballet West in 2017 and is a corps artist who originally comes from Ticino, Switzerland and Seres, Greece. Hadriel is a principal artist who joined the company in 2015. He is originally from Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

VICTORIA: Shrug, Asos Luxe, Name Droppers; Skinny Maxi Skirt, Rachel Gilbert, Name Droppers; Bodysuit, Target; Headband, Amazon; Bag, Chanel Vintage Satchel, The Lady Bag; Shoes, Black Suede Studio Kris Sandal, Nordstrom; Necklace, Roberto Coin Double Medallion in 18K gold; Ring, Julez Bryant Gold Block with Diamond in 14K gold, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. HADRIEL: Suit, Slim Solid Brown Cotton Suit, Express; Shirt, Slim Geo Print Stretch Dress Shirt, Express; Shoes, Cole Haan Chelsea Boot, Nordstrom; Watch, Tudor Black Bay, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Photography by Adam Finkle, styled by Farasha Vanessa Di Palma Wright & Harly Richards, makeup by Nikki Breedlove, hair by Tricia, art direction by Jeanine Miller.

THEIR STORY

At her first Ballet West fundraising gala, Victoria Vassos asked her coworker, Hadriel Diniz to join her on the dance floor. But the Brazilian, who was quickly rising within the company ranks, bashfully declined. 

“He actually said, ‘I don’t dance,’” she says, laughing in dismay. 

“I was too busy sampling the bar,” he counters, giggling with boyish mirth. 

“I told him, if you really want to be with me, text me tomorrow,” says Victoria, who’s half Greek and half Italian. 

The next day, Hadriel says he poured over each word of a possible text editing and re-editing of a response to her challenge but, ever shy, was too afraid to hit send. (Read their full story)

THE COUPLE — OLIVIA GUSTI & TYLER GUM

Olivia is a demi-soloist who joined Ballet West in 2015 and is originally from Tampa, Florida. Tyler is a first soloist who joined the company in 2009 and is from Calhan, Colorado. 

Ballet West dancers
Tyler: Suit, Madison Fit Two-Button Suit, Brooks Brothers; Tie, Louis Vuitton; Watch, Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. OLIVIA: Vintage Corset and Tulle Skirt, Driftwood Collection; Necklace, Bracelet and Earrings, Ippolita in 18k gold, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Photography by Adam Finkle, styled by Farasha Vanessa Di Palma Wright & Harly Richards, makeup by Nikki Breedlove, hair by Tricia, art direction by Jeanine Miller.

THEIR STORY

“She’s a romantic,” says Tyler Gum of his wife, Olivia Gusti. 

“A hopeless one,” she adds with gusto. 

Olivia has a commanding, queenly air about her. With her regal shoulders, long neck and wide eyes, she is every bit a ballerina. This imperious poise, however, dissolves the moment she bounces into a chair and bubbles out the couple’s love story—from their first meeting to an engagement ring scavenger hunt.

“Isn’t it beyond perfect?” she gushes as she shows off the olive-green sapphire ring glistening atop her finger. “Isn’t HE?” (Read their full story)


See them on stage

Every year, Ballet West presents a season that includes classical story ballets as well as mixed-bills that highlight contemporary works. What type of ballet speaks to you? Single tickets range from $25–$119 at balletwest.org

Ballet West’s 2022-23 Season

Rodeo (Choreography by Agnes de Mille; Music by Aaron Copland) Also featuring Concerto Barocco and Return to a Strange Land. Nov. 4 – Nov. 12

The Nutcracker (Choreography by Willam Christensen; Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Dec. 2 – Dec. 24

The Sleeping Beauty (Choreography by Adam Sklute and Ballet West Artistic Staff; Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Feb. 10 – Feb. 18

Snow White Family Classic Series performed by Ballet West II and Academy. April 7 – April 8

The Wedding (Three Ballet West Premieres)Les Noces; In the Night; A Light Rain. April 14 – April 22


This story was originally featured in our 2022 Nov/Dec issue, look for it out on newsstands now.

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