April 11, 2024:
– Ballet West has announced three company dancer promotions for the 2024-25 season, with seven new company members moving up from Ballet West II, three of whom trained at the Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy. In addition, we welcome seven new Ballet West II members, including three also promoted from the FQL Ballet West Academy.

“I am so pleased to welcome this exciting and diverse group of dancers to Ballet West and Ballet West II for our 2024-25 season,” says Adam Sklute, Artistic Director of Ballet West. “Out of hundreds of auditions we have seen this past season, these unique and special artists came from around the world, as well as our own great state of Utah. It’s very gratifying to be able to promote so many artists from the FQL Ballet West Academy and to know that there is such interest nationally and internationally in being a part of Ballet West.”

For the upcoming season, David Huffmire has been promoted to Principal Artist. Huffmire started as a Ballet West Academy Trainee in 2014 before joining Ballet West II in 2016. He was promoted to the main Company in 2018 and promoted to Soloist in 2022. Huffmire joins current Principal Artists Emily Adams, Katlyn Addison, Hadriel Diniz, Adrian Fry, Tyler Gum, Jenna Rae Herrera, Amy Potter, and Jordan Veit.

“I am so proud of David and all his hard work,” says Sklute of Huffmire. “He has truly risen through every level of the company and this season it was undeniable that he was ready to take on the mantle of Principal Artist. I look forward to collaborating with him, as I do with all our Principals, in making great art.”

Additional Main Company Promotions

Corps Artists Lillian Casscells and Rylee Rogers have been promoted to Demi-Soloist. Casscells is from Houston, Texas and danced with the SemperOper Ballet in Dresden, Germany prior to joining Ballet West in 2017. Rogers is from Orem, Utah. As a child, she performed with Ballet West in the role of Clara in Willam Christensen’s The Nutcracker for two years in a row. She joined Ballet West II in 2020 before being promoted to the main company in 2022.

Ballet West II dancers Alexis Bull, Utah native Kai Casperson, Mikayla Gyfteas, Schuyler Lian, and Utah native Lexi McCloud have all been promoted to the main company as Corps Artists. Also joining the main company are Taylor Fikes, who hails from Maryland and recently danced with the Romanian National Opera Ballet, along with former Cincinnati Ballet 2 dancer James Jobson-Larkin from New York City.

New Additions to Ballet West II

Joining Ballet West II, Ballet West’s pre-professional company, are Ballet West Academy alumni Callie Herbert, Tea Hinchley, and Adrian Fite, as well as Ava Gray-Bobbitt, Sophia Nanni, and Kazakhstani native Arif Toleugazin, who are new to the organization. There will also be two additional pre-professional artists announced at a later date.

Departing Dancers

At the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, Ballet West bids a fond farewell from the stage to longtime Ballet West Artists, First-Soloist Chelsea Keefer and Demi-Soloist Olivia Gusti, who will be retiring from dancing.

Keefer’s training began in the Ballet West Academy and was one of the first BWA/University of Utah joint-trainees. She danced with Tulsa Ballet before joining Ballet West in 2014, where she performed leading roles such as Olga in Cranko’s Onegin, Kylián’s Return to a Strange, featured roles in Adam Sklute’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and Kate in Bintley’s Shakespeare Suite, and The Sugarplum Fairy in Christensen’s The Nutcracker.

Gusti was first discovered by Sklute at the age of 12 and came up through the Ballet West Academy Trainee program before joining the main Company in 2016; she has been featured in roles such as Nicolo Fonte’s Piece of my Heart, Kunikova’s classic staging of Paquita, The Partisan Woman in Jooss’s The Green Table, featured roles in Sklute’s Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, Christensen’s The Nutcracker, and Balanchine’s Rubies.

Also departing Ballet West will be Soloist Brian Waldrep, Demi-Soloist Kazlyn Nielsen, Corp Artists Stella Birkinshaw and Beau Chesivoir, as well as Ballet West II Artists Luca Freudenberg, Philipp Mergener, and Kaeli Ware.

Come see the dancers perform in the upcoming 2024-25 season, which features the 80th anniversary of America’s first Nutcracker, four breathtaking Utah premieres and the triumphant return of Cinderella, in addition to tours in Ogden and Park City. Season subscriptions are on sale now at balletwest.org.

Subscribers to the 2024-25 Season enjoy exclusive benefits, including free ticket exchanges, up to 40% off single ticket prices, priority seating, and first access to purchase additional tickets to The Nutcracker. Five-performance pages start at just $156.

Single tickets do not go on sale until September 3, so ballet fans are encouraged to subscribe now or renew their seasons subscriptions early to get the best available seats.

Groups of 15 or more will have access to purchase tickets before single tickets go on sale Tuesday, September 3.

Heritage Club Members will have access to exclusive insider events including in-studio rehearsals, intermission receptions, free parking, and more.

Contact Ballet West at 801-869-6920 or visit BalletWest.org.