Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James Vessell began his dance training at the age of eighteen at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan as a BFA dance major. After a few years of training at the university, James was awarded the honor of talent scholar for the major improvement in his dance and choreographic abilities.
In his pre-professional experience, James had the pleasure of performing works by George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Africa Guzman, Stacy Caddell, Meg Paul, Christopher Huggins, Ray Mercer, Wanjiru Kamuyu and many more. James spent his summers training at intensives by American Ballet Theater, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet School. James has also performed at the Joyce Theater in New York City with Complexions Contemporary Ballet as a collegiate gala guest and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for ACDA nationals. James was a company member of the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group and he also apprenticed for Germaul Barnes Viewsic Dance Expressions while living in New York City. James began his professional career as a company dancer with Ballet Memphis where he performed for 3 seasons. While at Ballet Memphis, he had the opportunity to dance classical works such as, Romeo & Juliet, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. He also had the opportunity to dance featured roles in choreographic works by Joshua Peugh, Gabrielle Lamb, Stephanie Martinez, Julia Adam and Mark Godden. James also performed with Playhouse on the Square, a professional theatre company in Memphis and performed in their productions of Memphis the Musical, Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Lord of the Flies, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Dreamgirls. James is currently a freelance artist and has recently performed in The Tallahassee Ballet Theater’s Evening of Music & Dance and The Nutcracker. He is also a judge for Celebrity Dance Regional Tour 2019.
get to know the dancer
1. What do you like to do outside of dance (hobbies, interests, etc.)?
Swimming, hiking, bowling, running, singing, video games, listen to music, acting, modeling
2. What is your favorite role that you have performed? Have not performed?
My favorite has been Dark Angel Guy in Balanchine’s Serenade. I would like to perform Opening Guy in Agon by Balanchine someday.
3. What are some of your indulgences?
Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream and Krispy Kreme Glazed Donuts.
4. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I kiss my hand and rub it across my tattoo that says, “Carpe Diem,” to remind myself to live in the moment.
5. If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be?
Professional Track Star/College Professor teaching Mathematics
6. Do you remember the first ballet you ever saw? What was it and how did it affect you?
Ballet Met’s Nutcracker. It inspired me to become a professional dancer.
7. How do you spend your summer breaks?
Teaching at summer camps, traveling, and performing in musicals.
8. If I could visit any country in the world it would be….
9. What does Northwest Arkansas mean to you? Why is it special?
It’s a new place to call home, a little oasis. There’s so much natural beauty around and I love to be in a city that’s so interested in the arts.
10. What are three things people might not know about you?
I hope to have my own dance company in the future.
I played the trumpet for three years in high school.
I did a dance exchange in college and had the opportunity to visit Suriname.
Creating beautiful performances that will thrill audiences is every dancers dream. It takes them many years of training, long hours in rehearsals, and a lot of pointe shoes and performance wear.
NWA Ballet Theatre invites you to help keep our dancers on their toes by taking part in our Adopt-a-Dancer program.
All you have to do is choose a dancer (or type in “most in need”) and your donation will go directly to assisting their various performance needs.
Help our dancers realize their dreams -- join our Adopt-a-Dancer program today. .