(From Left to Right)

David Ward
Ward, 23, is from London, England, where he danced professionally for five years before moving to Columbus a few months ago to join BalletMet. Though his family and girlfriend remain in the United Kingdom, he is enjoying Columbus. "I find people (here) actually a lot more friendly," he said. "I quite like it."

Courtney Muscroft
Muscroft, 23, is a Worthington native who danced with the New York City Ballet for four years before joining BalletMet. And yes, she eats. One recent dinner included almost three portions of lasagna, a "huge" bowl of salad and an entire loaf of garlic bread. "I feel like I eat as much as a growing 16-year-old boy," she said, laughing. Muscroft and her husband, Kevin Roberts, live in Worthington with their 2-year-old son, Smith.

David Tlaiye
Born in Mexico and raised in New Orleans, Tlaiye, 26, has danced professionally for eight years. "I like being able to dance and act at the same time-that's what fun for me," he said. "But the chicks aren't bad, either." Tlaiye also enjoys fantasy football, video games, comic books and food. His girlfriend dances for the Cincinnati Ballet.

Annie Mallonee
A California native, Mallonee, 24, has danced professionally with BalletMet for eight years. She's a big music fan whose favorites range from Bryan Adams to Johnny Cash, and she also enjoys doing yard work at her Marion Village home. She is engaged to be married next summer.

Gabriel Gaffney Smith
Smith, 25, is dancing his third season with BalletMet. Originally from Saugerties, N.Y., he enjoys connecting with the audience: "You can affect people." Smith also plays the piano and the saxophone and hopes to someday write movie scores. Like the other dancers, he said people often have a difficult time believing dancing is his full-time profession. "They're like, 'You're poor,' " he said. "And I'm like, 'Yeah-but I'm having the time of my life.' "

Olivia Clark
Clark, 33, is from Bellville, Ohio. She studied at BalletMet and has danced professionally for 16 years. She met her husband, South African native Hisham Omardien, when he joined BalletMet as a dancer. Now, he is the company's Ballet Master, and the couple, who live in Clintonville, have a 3-year-old daughter, Safiyyah.

The Nutcracker Ballet
You can soon watch these dancers perform, along with several others, in the holiday favorite "The Nutcracker." Featuring more than 100 dancers, along with elaborate sets and costumes, "The Nutcracker" runs Dec. 10-26 at the Ohio Theatre. For tickets, visit BalletMet.org.