Soloist David Huffmire can be seen in a variety of roles in this year’s Nutcracker – from Grandfather in the party scene, to Snow King, Spanish, Russian Lead, Chinese Warrier, and the Sugar Plum Cavalier. “It’s nice to have a variety of things to switch between,” he says. So, which role is his favorite? Top on his list is Cavalier and Snow King.

“They are prized roles and an opportunity to show off your solo dancing and your partnering ability,” Huffmire says. “Those are my favorites in terms of a challenge, but in terms of having a good time, it would be Grandfather in the party scene.”

He says the grand pas de deux as Cavalier can be stressful because it’s the biggest role in Nutcracker. “You think about it your whole career, but I actually think that the Snow pas de deux can be a little more difficult because it’s a faster tempo and there are more steps within those measures, so if you get a little behind the music and in your timing, it can become difficult to recover.” Huffmire says.

“Also, the grand pas de deux has its most difficult section halfway through the pas de deux and becomes less difficult throughout its ending, but in the Snow pas de deux, the most difficult step is in the last few moments of the scene. You are at your most tired point of the performance and doing a movement that requires the most physical exertion and focus.”

Huffmire’s dance career actually started with The Nutcracker at around age four, when his sister was in a ballet school that needed extra boys to be soldiers. Afterwards, he began all things dance, everything except ballet – jazz, tap, and hip hop, until age 11 when he met a former dancer with Ballet West who encouraged him to attend Summer Intensives at Ballet West.

He applied and was accepted into the program at age 13, returned at age 15 and 16, which led to two years as a Ballet West Academy Trainee, then two years with Ballet West II, and into the Main Company in 2018, with a promotion to Soloist in 2022.

When asked why he enjoys his professional career, Huffmire said he’s learned it’s more than just dancing solo roles.

“I’m grateful that I have the opportunity within my own health and body to dance for a living, which is a really incredible thing when you think about it, but I think the most important thing to me now after spending a few years as a dance instructor is when a student tells you that you have inspired them,” Huffmire said.

“That feeling is fueling and inspirational and might even be comparable to the feeling of an audience applauding after you have taken your final bow. I thought that the mighty applause was the end point - you work so hard to get the opportunity to dance a solo on stage and hearing the audience applaud and there’s your gold ribbon, which is an amazing feeling, but now when students come to see shows and watch me perform, then tell me afterward that they are so excited to go to class on Monday, that feeling is beyond comparison."