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A Gradual Dance Towards a ‘Fantastically Intoxicating’ Romance

Days after Unity Sickles Phelan turned an apprentice on the New York Metropolis Ballet in December 2012, she met Cameron William Dieck in an elevator at Lincoln Heart, the place the ballet rehearses and performs. Ms. Phelan, then 17, wasn’t certain the place to choose up her pointe sneakers. Mr. Dieck, a 23-year-old corps member, instructed her which ground. Every left the elevator with clear impressions of the opposite.

“I believed, Ah, that’s a buddy — somebody who’s good that I can depend on,” Ms. Phelan mentioned.

Mr. Dieck braced himself. “She was completely attractive and tremendous gifted,” he mentioned. “I believed, Oh, no, I’ve an issue.”

Mr. Dieck, who had been dancing with Metropolis Ballet since 2007, had heard about Ms. Phelan from associates on the dance firm and watched her glancingly through the six-hour rehearsal days.

His drawback — wanting so far her whereas not eager to make her really feel awkward or pressured — resolved itself inside her first few weeks. Regardless of his greater rank on the firm, Mr. Dieck was not able of authority over Ms. Phelan; he gave into his crush and requested her to espresso. She mentioned she didn’t drink it. “That was strike one,” he mentioned. He struck out a second time earlier than she lastly agreed to a date with him on Feb. 10, 2013, days earlier than her 18th birthday, at a restaurant Mr. Dieck had chosen with care. “It was a spot known as Group, close to the Columbia campus,” Ms. Phelan mentioned. “It had ‘Unity’ within the identify.”

Ms. Phelan, 27, now a principal dancer with Metropolis Ballet, grew up in Princeton, N.J., with an older sister and two youthful brothers. Her dad and mom weren’t hippies, she mentioned by means of explaining her uncommon first identify. Kimberlee Phelan is a associate on the accounting agency Withum, Smith and Brown, and John Phelan, now retired, was the founder and chief government of Zweena Well being, a well being companies firm. They only preferred the thought of “Unity.” So does Ms. Phelan. “I like my identify,” she mentioned. “It’s quirky and particular person, like myself.”

Her first ballet class, at age 4, was at Princeton Ballet Faculty. Proximity to a different pupil — her sister, Amanda Phelan — was the draw. “I needed to do every part she did,” she mentioned. By the point she was 10, her dad and mom had been counting on the specter of withholding classes as a motivational software for chores and good grades. “It might be, ‘Oh, Unity, it’s a must to clear your room if you wish to go to ballet.’ Ballet turned my through-line.”

At 13, whereas nonetheless taking lessons at Princeton, she auditioned for the Faculty of American Ballet and that summer time was invited to spend the college 12 months coaching there in New York Metropolis. Her dad and mom thought she was too younger. However the next 12 months, when she was invited once more, they gave their permission.

The Faculty of American Ballet, additionally at Lincoln Heart, is Metropolis Ballet’s coaching academy. Mr. Dieck’s first experiences dancing in an city setting came about there, too. He grew up with two sisters, one older and one youthful, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. His mom, Eileen Dieck, is a retired physician of inside medication who previously taught on the Masters Faculty in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Dr. William Dieck, his father, is an ophthalmologist with Northwell Well being who practices in Mount Kisco.

Like Ms. Phelan, Mr. Dieck, 34, adopted his older sister, Caitlin Locke, right into a dance class earlier than he was eligible for kindergarten (his was a faucet class, at Westchester Dance Academy in Mount Kisco). He went there primarily as a result of his mom had lots to juggle and wanted some alone time. “I used to be a rambunctious child,” he mentioned. “My mother figured she’d put me within the class with my sister so she may get an hour to herself.”

At 9, a instructor urged him to attempt for a spot on the Faculty of American Ballet. He auditioned. The identical night, his dad and mom acquired a name: he was accepted. That fall, the household drove backwards and forwards to Manhattan from Westchester 5 days per week. “Contemplating they’re each medical doctors, that was insane,” he mentioned. However he beloved it, particularly the aggressive spirit in his all-boys class.

By highschool, Ms. Phelan and Mr. Dieck each had been spending extra time in New York than at residence. As youngsters, they lived in dorms on the Faculty of American Ballet whereas attending Skilled Kids’s Faculty, for working actors and dancers. Mr. Dieck graduated in 2006, Ms. Phelan in 2012. Every secured an apprenticeship with Metropolis Ballet inside months of incomes a highschool diploma. Ms. Phelan wasn’t certain hers would quantity to a lot. “I had an enormous degree of impostor syndrome,” she mentioned. “I by no means thought I’d get previous the apprenticeship to the corps.”

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Changing into one of many youngest dancers invited to hitch the corps, in 2013, helped. However an increase to principal, the ballet world’s prime tier, nonetheless appeared unthinkable.

After their first date, which ended with a kiss on a freezing Manhattan dock, Ms. Phelan and Mr. Dieck stored seeing one another secretly. “While you get into the New York Metropolis Ballet, it’s type of a yearlong audition, the place you’re tried on for measurement,” Ms. Phelan mentioned. “I used to be trepidatious about romance whereas I used to be an apprentice as a result of I believed the notion may be that I used to be not centered on entering into the corporate.”

Mr. Dieck, already a corps member and established within the firm, didn’t really feel as cautious. However for six months, he performed alongside. “I used to be like, if it means we’re relationship, then OK,” he mentioned, jokingly.

By 2014, their romance was effectively established — and open to the scrutiny of others. Their solely breakup, spurred by well-meaning associates on the ballet, occurred that 12 months. “Everybody was like, ‘You guys are committing too early,’” Ms. Phelan mentioned. They determined to take a break, however boomeranged again to one another inside a month. “I keep in mind considering, Oh, I simply need to speak to her,” Mr. Dieck mentioned. Ms. Phelan mentioned it was the worst month ever.

Early on, Ms. Phelan’s ascent on the firm had bolstered Mr. Dieck’s dedication to dancing. Earlier than they met, that dedication had been waning. “I used to be disillusioned with it,” he mentioned. “I used to be nonetheless within the corps, and it didn’t appear to be I used to be going to get out of the corps.” The joy of what he known as Ms. Phelan’s “meteoric rise,” and of getting her close by, impressed him to remain.

However in 2018, a 12 months after Ms. Phelan was promoted to soloist, Mr. Dieck left the ballet for a a lot completely different profession, in funding banking. By then, he and Ms. Phelan had been dwelling collectively in a Harlem condominium and knew they needed to marry one another. Each had taken lessons at Fordham whereas dancing full time. Mr. Dieck graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s diploma in economics. Ms. Phelan completed three years later, with a bachelor’s diploma in economics and organizational management.

Mr. Dieck’s first banking job, as an analyst at Credit score Suisse, rivaled the ballet for its lengthy hours. However it provided a safe monetary future. “If somebody acquired sick, I needed to have the ability to deal with them,” he mentioned. Additionally, “behind my thoughts, I all the time knew that dance was finite.”

His love for Ms. Phelan, who has hardly ever struggled to search out her footing however known as his departure from the ballet “troublesome” — “I used to be shedding my individual, my ally within the constructing,” she mentioned — felt a lot the other. Mr. Dieck was able to suggest earlier than the pandemic roared in. He deliberate to shock Ms. Phelan in London, following her multinational Stars of American Ballet tour, in March 2020, by displaying up with an engagement ring. As a substitute, she needed to scramble to discover a flight again to New York from Serbia days earlier than the U.S. border closed.

Inside weeks of the scratched London plan, they had been engaged. It was solely a matter of time, each mentioned, till she discovered the diamond ring he had hidden of their condominium. “I might come residence and my underwear drawer could be rearranged,” he mentioned. On March 20, 2020, after a dinner of selfmade bread, grilled sausage, cheese and salad, he proposed of their Harlem residence.

In October 2021, with Metropolis Ballet’s performances nonetheless restricted for Covid, Ms. Phelan was promoted to principal dancer. Mr. Dieck’s profession had gotten a lift 4 months earlier when he accepted his present place, as an funding banking affiliate at J.P. Morgan. For each, “attending to that degree feels just like the fruits of a lot arduous work,” Mr. Dieck mentioned. “We really feel like we’re quintessential New Yorkers now.”

They had been married Oct. 22 on the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead, N.Y., earlier than 170 company. They included the style designer Zac Posen and his fiancé, Harrison Ball, a Metropolis Ballet principal dancer, and the previous Balanchine ballerina Heather Watts. One other fellow principal dancer, Ms. Phelan’s greatest buddy, Indiana Woodward, was a bridesmaid. Fredrick Wodin, Metropolis Ballet’s director of company relations, turned a Common Life Church minister to officiate.

Ms. Phelan walked down a grassy aisle escorted by each dad and mom in a Lazaro robe with a practice and a full tulle skirt, swapping her pointe sneakers for block-heeled sandals. She and Mr. Dieck, in a navy tuxedo and velvet loafers, took turns studying handwritten vows. “With you, a number of the most mundane components of life might be fantastically intoxicating,” he mentioned. Ms. Phelan mentioned she beloved Mr. Dieck from her soul.

When Mr. Wodin pronounced them married and Mr. Dieck leaned in for a kiss, a area stuffed with effectively wishers erupted in cheers. Few {couples} have recessed down the aisle as gracefully.


When Oct. 22, 2022

The place The Hallockville Museum Farm, Riverhead, N.Y.

A Reception Pas De Deux For the couple, “Nutcracker” companions when each had been on the New York Metropolis Ballet, slicing unfastened at a reception that adopted on the farm got here with strings hooked up. “As dancers, there’s a sure expectation that you just present up on the dance ground,” Mr. Dieck mentioned. “It’s our job to ship.” They collectively choreographed their first dance, to the Sara Bareilles music “I Select You,” carried out dwell by Kate Davis. The outcome included lifts and dips. “They made it look easy,” mentioned certainly one of their associates, Ashley Higgins.

Port in a Storm Amanda Phelan stopped ballet dancing after highschool, however has watched her sister’s profession take flight with admiration. The identical goes for her sister’s relationship with Mr. Dieck. “The chaos of that life is so particular,” she mentioned. “They turned one another’s port in a storm on the ballet. After I have a look at them I feel, that’s what love appears like.”

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