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Cupid Strikes Texas Ballet Theater


by Stephen Becker 11 Jun 2010

With graceful movements and soaring music, ballet is romance in motion. And for some members of the Texas Ballet Theater, that onstage passion has lead to off-stage coupling. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on why it’s so easy for dancers to fall in love:

CTA TBD

With graceful movements and soaring music, ballet is romance in motion. And for some members of the Texas Ballet Theater, that onstage passion has lead to off-stage coupling. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on why it’s so easy for dancers to fall in love:

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  • Online version:

Justin Urso and Carrie Judson are happy to take a break from dance when they get home from a long day of rehearsals.

Carrie Judson and Juston Urso

Justin: “Not very often do we put on Frank Sinatra and dance in our living room, or anything like that…”

Carrie: “Maybe we should! That would be romantic.”

Justin: “We should probably practice.”

That might be a good idea. They’ve got a first dance to prepare for as husband and wife at their wedding next year. And they aren’t the only ones. Fellow Texas Ballet Theater dancers Leticia Oliveira and Carl Croomer will also tie the knot next summer. They just got engaged in March. And yet a third set of dancers, Heather Crosby and Sasha Kotelenets, just got married two weeks ago.

It’s a fairytale brought to real life knowing that all of these Cinderellas and Sleeping Beauties are finding their Prince Charmings on stage.

Chemistry is one element choreographers consider when pairing up dancers. But lots of other factors come into play, like body size and strength. So you don’t always get your sweetheart.

But sometimes, the dancers do get lucky.

Sasha Kotelenets and Heather Crosby

Sasha Kotelenets and Heather Crosby

Here’s Heather and Sasha, the newlyweds who have each performed with the company for five years.

Heather: “It’s so much more fun and enjoyable for me at least. He’s my favorite partner out of the company.”

Sasha: “Am I?”

Heather: “uh huh”

Sasha: “Nice, I didn’t know that.”

But it’s more than just getting to dance with the one who brought ya to work. Leticia says that her connection with Carl once literally rerouted a dance.

Leticia: “You know how when you’re a couple, when you’re together, you end up thinking of things at the same time? I think it’s the same way in dance. We happened to be on the stage one time, and we kind of messed up together and we both didn’t notice until we actually got back on track. And no one else noticed, ever.”

Leticia and Carl danced the title roles in TBT’s previous production, Romeo and Juliet. Before a performance at the Winspear Opera House in March, Carl popped the question. The couple has dated for several years, going back to when they were both members of the Houston Ballet.

Carl Croomer and Leticia Oliveira

And Leticia says that there are perks to dating your co-star.

Leticia: “We used to until like two days before the show, we wouldn’t really do the kiss – we would kiss to the side of the mouth or something. And then we were in the rehearsal and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can kiss him. That’s so strange.’ You actually have the freedom to just do whatever – to be in love.”

Still, dancing is a grueling art. Justin and Carrie got engaged on New Year’s Day after five years together. And to hear Carrie tell it, those on-stage kisses can be sloppy. And not in a good way.

Carrie: “In Romeo and Juliette, there’s that famous kiss at the end of the pas de deux. But we’re exhausted, we’re sweaty, we’re nasty and we have to like smooch for a while. So it’s not as beautiful up close as hopefully it is from offstage.”

The Texas Ballet Theater wraps up its current season this weekend with The Sleeping Beauty at the Winspear Opera House. After that, the dancers are off from performing with the company until the next season begins in the fall.

And, as newlywed Heather suggest, by then it may be time to start planning an expansion of the theater’s studio space.

Heather: “We were laughing and we were joking around that now we just need to have a daycare built into the studios.”

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