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Oglefresh

1st Nutcracker Audition Advice

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Oglefresh

DD just turned 11 and is at an attached academy to professional company doing 18 shows. I have heard that it is usual to receive "pay your dues" roles but with her receiving a surprising desirable part in the Spring performance not sure what to expect. What is the normal age part progression for others and advice on stepping into the audition would be welcome. She is on the small side 4'7" [ ] lbs and does have numerous years of theater experience but is in her third year of ballet.

Edited by dancemaven
Removed weight per BT4D Rules and Policies.

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dancemaven

Oglefresh, you will receive as many answers as there are Nutcracker productions. Each school/academy/professional company using a children's cast will do their castings differently. If you know parents of kids who have been in your particular production's childrens' cast previously, they will be the best source of 'what should we expect?' answers.

 

You might also do a Search on BT4D and read through previous threads on Nutcracker auditions and castings to see the variety of potential responses.

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Mdballetmom

Your question seems less like 'audition advice' than a desire to see into the future. :) And even though this will be my dancer's 8th year of Nut, I'm also excited to find out my own dancer's nut role.

There are several variations on the Nutcracker story and even more productions. And while i think the size of a dancer is important in casting (due to costumes, etc.) There are lots of variables.

 

Advise your dancer to do her best during the audition and then just wait and see.

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Oglefresh

I try to stay out of the fray asking others in the studio about things hence coming to this forum.

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logollady

As a mom to a dancer who has performed nearly every role for her age level, I would advise your daughter to have a good attitude, be thankful for the opportunity to dance (no matter the part) and be kind to other girls whether they get something "better" or "less desirable". I always counsel my daughter that as her love is the art of ballet, any chance to perform (be it in a shining or supporting role) is an opportunity to fulfill her passion. Plus, dancing those supporting roles gets her ready for the years when she will inevitably be the core girl holding the pot upstage while all eyes are on the soloist or principal. :)

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Noodles

I would just like to echo what the others have said....go into it with high hopes but low expectations!

 

In my experience with Nut, most roles are sequential by age/level/costume size. There are some small featured roles for younger dancers however our strategy is just to go into it knowing that DD will be cast in what ever role the production needs her to be in. While of course she has her dream roles, we focus more on what DD can control; giving it her all, being well rested, well fed and well prepared. Then what ever happens we know she will be cast where she is best suited.

 

It is actually a very important life lesson. For dancer and parent...sometimes you have to put on a smile and congratulate your dear friend for getting the role you so desperately wanted. That is why I discourage DD from daydreaming about roles ( not long term goals but more of what she will get this season), you end up attached to it and I have seen many young girls crushed because they were 'certain' they would get the role.

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Happyfeet15

My DD will be participating in her 12 Nutcracker this season, so I would echo Noodles post, and also say it is very important for all young DK's (parents, too) to not place too much emotional energy on the casting outcome but on dancing their very best whatever role they receive. I have seen kids be the "star" of the show at 8 to 10 years old be displaced two to four years later either due to puberty, or poor work habits because the so called glory roles were handed to them at a young age and they never learned to really truly work hard. All the while, the kids who weren't so lucky early on learned to focus, work hard and be gracious to everyone regardless of their roles. Those kids ended up being the true stars later on, while the early thrivers couldn't handled the change so well.

From what I witnessed most roles for the younger kids appear to be pre determined anyway, and that the "audition" is more of an exercise in just that, auditioning. Costume sizes, height of the professionals in the company (if applicable) also appear to play a part (no pun intended) in children's casting.

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dinkalina

The motto at my house is "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit". Like many have said, there are so many variables that go on with casting - age, size, facial features, energy levels, etc.

 

The folks that go into a nut audition with preconceived notions on what part they "know" they are going to get only sets you up for disappointment. For instance, I know a girl who made up her mind she was going to get one of two roles last year and she threw a complete fit when she didn't get either one. Regardless of how she danced, the one role is only ever cast out of the 12 to 13 year old age category. She was 14 at the time. The other role was for far more advanced dancers than she was. She had set herself up for utter disappointment because she went into it thinking those two roles were the only ones she wanted. She didn't try out this year which is really sad. Another dancer this year was upset because someone who was a lower level dancer was cast in the part she wanted. This one I'm thinking came down to size and that all of the dancers cast in this role look quite similar as far as hair color and facial features. Another had built up in her mind that when she turned a certain age, that one role would automatically be hers because she had had so much early success. You can't reasonable think that way when there are a hundred other girls going after the same role. My advice to you is relax, teach your dancer there is something to learn from every single role, and to keep an open mind. Your child might get cast in a role they never thought about and have an absolute blast doing it!

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Victoria Leigh

:clapping: Excellent post, dinkalina!

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Pensive

This year will be DD's 8th Nutcracker. My advice would be to not read anything into Nutcracker casting. Yes, size can be factored into decisions but so can a myriad of other things. DD and her friends are pretty much all the same size and we're still puzzled at some of the decisions. DD got fantastic parts, but a much better dancer got lesser roles - and that's pretty indicative of much of the casting. Who knows what they were thinking? But, they have their reasons. Of course we all want to "prep" our dancers for not getting the role they wanted, but we also need to prep them for getting "great" parts so that they know not to belittle others. And, yes, that is also happening in our production.

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DianneC

Yes, I agree with all the above posts. DD auditioned the first year she was able and was not cast. She was upset but persevered and worked even harder. The second year she went with a positive attitude and was cast as only a Little Mouse, even though most of her friends were also in the Party Scene. We told her to be the best Little Mouse that she could be. The following year she was in the Party Scene and a small featured roll. All along she did not complain, had a positive attitude and did whatever the AD wanted her to do. The third year in, she came home crying from Party Scene auditions because she did not get a roll. It turned out several days later that she actually was cast as Clara. My DD is not gifted, does not have the perfect ballet body, but works hard and goes with the flow and accepts whatever comes her way and it has paid off. Good luck to all new to Nutcracker! It is a great experience that your dancer will never forget.

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Salmonpoint

All great advice here. I will add that one time when DD was initially disappointed about a role that had virtually no dancing (I loved the quote earlier about holding a pot upstage! This role was similar) but this role turned out to be her favorite as she was able to watch from the stage the older dancers, and guest artists, perform in the second act. So good luck, and enjoy.

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pasdedeuxmama

The advice from our experiences (mother's and daughter's) auditioning for the Nutcracker when kids:

 

1) It's ok to hope for a 'dream role' provided you are a good sport if you do not get it (which includes giving your all to any role you DO get)

2) Nearly every audition under the age of 12 included some marching, skipping, pretending to open a present and being delighted... for the ubiquitous party child, soldier, mouse, polichinelle roles.

3) My advice as a parent - the last words your child hears from you before the audition should be 'Have fun!'. My DD has two modes during a Nut audition - worried or exhilarated. My words help steer her in the right direction.

 

Merde to your dancer - it's a very exciting process the first few times :D

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Mom de deux

There is fantastic advice here. One of my favorites is "Don't read too much into casting." Sometimes it may seem to make no sense, but what's done is done, and over analyzing it will just give you a headache. Also, I absolutely agree with the "Have Fun" advice. Auditions are one of those times when it's easy to forget that the reason why they're dancing is because they love to dance, and yet also one of the very important times when a dancer's happiness to be there and personality should shine through.

 

One more piece of parent advice: Find something to keep you busy. This is DD's second year of auditions, but her 8th Nut. (In earlier years she was too young to be considered for larger roles.) Last year she forbade me to watch with the other parents, and I found hanging out outside excruciating, so I went and ran errands until I got a text during a lengthy break in the action to "Please bring a snack." (I think a mid-audition hug was also needed, but she'd never admit that.) It was a relief for me to have something to do. A good book, or a movie on your phone or tablet would also work.

 

We are both eager to see how things shake out this year. We can make predictions based on what girls her size/level usually get, but even those can be shaken up. For example, DD was sad to not be cast as Clara last year, but instead of the corps role she expected based on her level, she was cast in one of the other variations in a much smaller group (4 girls instead of 20, and with harder choreography). So sometimes even a disappointment can have a silver lining.

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nynydancer

What a great post! Such excellent advice here! This year is our 5th Nut and it's hard not to get wound up about auditions and casting. Oglefresh, I totally understand not wanting to get into the fray with other parents. I do have a friend at the school and we share our angst and wonder "offline" away from the others. Hopefully you can find a friend you can confide in. To everyone else, I am serene as can be.

 

My daughter has been cast into parts that were not her level, but were her "size". That stinks but it's showbiz. Any productions that have nice costumes will likely definitely consider the costumes. I have seen many surprises over the years in casting, some which were happy surprising and some head scratchers, but they know more than I do, so it's all good. I've seen people go from starring roles to low parts and vice versa year over year. And the comment someone made about little ones getting great parts handed out to early leading to entitlement is totally true! Our AD really loathes the entitled types - you gotta work for it. And the pouters whose body language registers their disappointment for being asked to try for a non pointe role vs a pointe role- not good.

 

I agree with the other posters: eat well, sleep well, come prepared and be positive. I always tell my dancer to be very attentive and do whatever she is asked to do quickly and quietly. Stand by this person, stand by this person, do this combination or that. No questions, just do as told cheerfully and do your best. Be the kid they want to work with. That's our tactic. After that, it's with the casting team.

 

As for expectation, I agree with letting them dream, but expecting the worst. You just never know what the AD wants/needs/sees. Even so, waiting for the darn cast list to come out is looooooong

 

Edited because the font was too small; :)

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