Ballet West Sweethearts: Dominic Ballard & Vinicius Lima

Dominic and Vinni Ballet West
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.

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. 

“We became best friends long before we became a couple,” says Dominic. “We understand each other and what it means to be in a new country, with a passion to pursue a dream.”  Sharing the international language of confusing encounters with American culture brought them closer. 

“We’re still learning how to navigate life in the U.S. together,” says Dominic. “We don’t always understand the humor, what is O.K. to say or do and what’s not.” 

Their backgrounds are as different as their home countries. Dominic grew up training in the family business—a dance school­— while Vinni discovered dance during an after-school program that he describes as a way “to get poor kids off the street.”  Dominic’s family was thrilled when he chose to carry on their dance tradition, while Vinni’s mom and grandma took some time to come around. His father still resists. 

Dominic and Vinni Ballet West
Dominic: Robe, Vintage Robe, Driftwood Collection; Rings, John Hardy Black Sapphire Signet and Hex Band in Sterling Silver, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. Vinni: Jacket, Vintage Jacket, Driftwood Collection; Pants, Topman Velvet Suit Pants, Nordstrom; Necklace, Apache Amulet in Sterling Silver; Ring, Apache Signet in Sterling Silver, O.C. Tanner Jewelers. 

“It’s been tough,” Vinni says. “I’m grateful for Dominic’s willingness to listen and support me because it’s hard.” Ballet West discovered Vinni during an international competition and Dominic moved to Salt Lake City to find better roles as a taller dancer. (Height, it turns out, is a major factor in casting and Dominic stands 6 feet 3 inches tall.)

So, is competing for the same parts a challenge? Either one’s success could, they suppose, mean a missed opportunity for the other but …“we want each other to do well, though,” Dominic says. “We try to be supportive and honor each other’s talent and help each other grow.”

Read more romantic stories from Ballet West dancers here.

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