I've just been pondering this....
There has been a lot of discussion about Nutcracker casting on other forums, and I was just thinking about how Nutcracker casting is so different for boys.
We are at a small studio with pre-professional training, and we put on a full-length Balanchine-style Nutcracker.
A lot of the roles my ds had when he was younger were non-dancing roles. Fritz and the party boys don't dance much (we bring in non-dancers to fill in). My son didn't like the non-dancing roles that much. He also didn't really like Nutcracker Prince, which he had to do for three years, and which involved just a pantomime and a lot of sitting still beside a girl.
His duties as Prince meant he never got to be a soldier or a rat. Other boys did dance these roles, and they seemed fun!
As he moved into the Nutcracker, party scene Soldier Doll, Rat King, and the divertissement roles, the dancing definitely improved. But there's no Snow or Flowers corps equivalent for the boys in Nutcracker, so even the advanced boys are often on stage for just a short piece, maybe two.
With the exception of Arabian and Spanish (which were partnering pieces), any lead my son got was a lead that a girl lost. So, the Candy Cane, Chinese, and Soldier Doll roles, etc., did not make him popular. The boys were made leads because it looked awkward if they weren't.
Since a lot of studios bring in professionals for Snow King and Cavalier, these roles are not often available to the male students. My son has been lucky to be Snow King for two years while a professional did just Cavalier. That was a treat. This year, he has finally been invited to be Cavalier, but it has been made clear that it's a one-time thing. He's definitely not complaining this year!
Does anyone else feel that Nutcracker casting is just a different experience for boys? Maybe your studio has figured out some interesting ways to cast the boys and get them into dancing roles! Or maybe your training program is associated with a professional ballet company, and the roles are limited to just the little guys. Do tell!