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Ballet Talk for Dancers

First Nutcracker Audition


Babsaroo

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My daughter just completed her first Nutcracker audition. The excitement was dampened by talk of height restrictions by other girls and moms. My question is...if companies have height restriction, why have the students audition? Everyone received information regarding the auditions a few weeks ago but height was not mentioned. The height restriction seemed to be common knowledge among the moms.

 

The girls were measured before audtioning today, so they could have easily been told the height requirement then. I think it would be kinder to let them know at the time of measurement rather than seeing your name not listed on the cast list.

 

I understand that variables such as costumes come into play, I just don't understand the rationale of auditioning girls that don't have a chance. I'm sure there's a logical answer, I just don't understand. Boy do I have a lot to learn.

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It does seem very unfair that nothing is posted--maybe it varies from year to year. We've had two experiences in our house--one where the guidelines are very clear (height and level requirements) and the other where they are measured but there is no set heights (there is a general feel for where different heights and levels would fit in though--probably the more clued in parents know more definitively--but I never have!) I have to share though that even in the more "rigid" experience exceptions are made (and costumes adjusted accordingly!)

 

Maybe I'm wrong, but Nutcracker auditions are very hairy--I'd think if they had no intention of casting someone based on their height they'd be clear about that.

 

Good luck.

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Our experience has shown that there are many, many variables that play a part in Nutcracker casting, with height being an important, but not the only one. Often, while there may be some height restrictions due to costumes, there are also restrictions that vary annually, based on who is going to play other roles that interact with a certain role. For example, how tall is Fritz in comparison to Clara? Is this one dancer so tall, that they will stick out in the line of soldiers or angels, or whatever? And so on. I think measuring the dancers helps the AD even things out, as casting is done. Our company requires all auditioning dancers to bring a card with their name, height, age and grade in school listed.

 

As to height restrictions for certain parts, I think they do exist. But, I think that in most companies, those restrictions are somewhat flexible. In the case of Clara's costumes, ours are two-tiered so that there is a full 12 inches that can be let out or taken up in the length and they are made with two sets of hooks in the back to accomodate girls with a bit more development than others. Certainly, the look/age that an AD prefers for this or any other role is his or her personal preference. So, if the AD likes for Clara to look like a little girl, an older gal who is a bit taller may be chosen, if she "looks young" and the costumes are adjusted accordingly. If the AD likes for Clara to be a teen, then no matter how great the 10 year old is, unless she looks like she is 16, she may not get the part. Factors such as Fritz's height and other variables all may change the matrix so that what was the "ideal height" last year, may not be this year.

 

I have known girls who have danced the role of Clara with various companies for several years after they past the height restrictions too and the rest of those who interact with Clara were adjusted accordingly.

 

I guess the bottom line here is that casting is not a science. What catches an AD's eye one year, may not the next. The sizes for given roles may change suddenly after years of doing it a certain way. Last year, our AD juggled things dramatically and levels that had always danced certain roles were switched to other parts. So, as much as the other moms may think they know about it - nothing is written in stone until that cast list goes up! :wink:

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I think also that if the company is holding any auditions for other parts, they might ask a too-tall dancer they like to come back for a different audition. If they restrict the audition to jsut one size, they miss that opportunity.

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Thanks for the responses and lessons in auditions. The information is helpful. I always learn so much on this board.

 

I like to be respectful of other people's time and committment. It seems like a waste of valuable time and expense to go to an audition in which one has no chance. :wink:

 

Another ballet life lesson I think.

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Babsaroo, my dd is just back from her Nut auditions, and the height game is an interesting one. Height guidelines were shared before the audition, and my daughter was exactly the top height for one audition, and the entree height for the next. I spoke with the AD, and the suggestion was to bring her for the first (shorter kids) audition. She went...and sat on the side through that particular audition. I'm not sure if that was due to height, or the fact that she had been in this company's Nut last year, and they were teaching the same combination to the newbies. But that was a 2-hour cooldown.

 

Anyway...they pushed her through to the next audition, and she and about 7 other kids worked about 30 minutes with the judges while the rest of the "tall" kids registered. She was then dismissed. Now we wait for the letter....

 

She felt frustrated sitting through one entire audition, and at first, couldn't understand why she was released from the second one early. (When we figured out it was because her smaller group had already auditioned during the registration period, she felt some better, especially when she considered that she got an opportunity to be a part of a much smaller group than if they had waited for the registration group to enter the studio.) It's a tentative year for her, though -- that growth spurt put her into a height grouping with kids with 3-4 more years experience and training under their belts. Ugh. Well, as I always tell her at company auditions -- it's their show, and it's up to them to decide what they want. Hard for a 10-year-old to wait to see what those results are!!

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  • 11 months later...

I know this is waaaay late, and I do not know if teens are allowed in so moderators, feel free to delete, but in the production I do height requirements are not "set in place" but there is a general idea. If you were Marie, and grew five inches, you're not going to be Marie. You'll be a candy cane. Here is a sort of "height listing" for my nut, just to give you an idea. Also, you must be seven-fifteen to audition

 

Angels-4'2"-4'5"

Mice-usually bigger than angels, smaller then the smaller soldiers

Party girl-4'6"-4'10"

Soldier-4'6"-5'0"

Polichinelle-4'7"-4'11"

Candy Cane/Maid/Teenager-5'0"-5'3"

 

There is quite a bit of overlapping, as usually some kids will become, from the angels, party kids to polichinelles to candy canes, and others will become mice-and-soldiers and may never get the other roles.

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Nutcracker casting is certainly not set in stone...and can turn out to be quite interesting, in ways that no AD can anticipate.

 

When my DD was Sugar Plum, Clara was carefully chosen heighth-wise for the proper porpopotions to Sugar Plum and to the Cavalier.

 

Little did the AD know when he cast Clara in early August that she would go through a tremendous growth spurt and turn out to be taller than Sugar Plum (5'5")by performance time in December! :party:

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I think I am allowed on the thread... we have a casting policy. Auditions are Sept 19 this year, usually we are notified the next week and rehearsals start 1 week after that. We are allowed one excused absence, more results in becoming an understudy. Around Thanksgiving, final casting goes up. This says what roles you will dance in what shows. All rehearsals after are on stage and mandatory, no misses. The reason for the final casting is in case of growing too large for a role, and also some roles are double cast from the beginning like angels and soldiers. But other roles, such as a polichinelle, may originally have 1 cast of 8 girls, and 4-6 girls being a group B who are sort of understudies. Final casting tells which of the B girls were chosen to actually dance the role, and who will remain an understudy. In cast A and cast B, last year, A was the original 8, and B was four original girls with 4 of the "B" or "understudys" who were new to the role and perhaps a bit small.

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Babsaroo, I understand your frustration! Our company posts times for NC auditions that include dance level, height and generalized parts, i.e. corp/soloists, 1st act party scene, 2nd act attendants, parents, etc. Each rehearsal time has a ballet level attached. Not only does one have to worry about height restrictions, but also what level they are considered. Parents apparently know what level all the dancers are :rolleyes: - last year my dd was told by another parent that she was too young to go in to a particular audition. Luckily my dd knew to listen to the AD that told her to come to the audition rather than to the parent that told her it was only for the "big girls". She wound up with wonderful parts! So so much goes into casting and we might not all understand the reason behind it all. It is not our job to understand because we are not the choreographers - it is our job to support our children and help them to understand they are fortunate to get a part in the NC - every part is important otherwise the NC wouldn't go on! Our children get these lessons in coping skills at such tender hearted ages, don't they. I have a sneaky suspicion that many times the children handle it better than the parents :party:

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It's interesting to see this thread come back to life. We lived through the audition and dd was selected to dance and had a wonderful experience. As I experience more of ballet life, I'm thankful to come to the realization that there are logical reasons for most of the decisions even if I don't understand.

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We auditioned last Saturday. DD is a little frustrated because she is 12 and in 7th grade and so she had to go to the 9-12 audition. All the other 7th graders are 13 and went to the "big girl" audition later that day. I know that the AD is already under a lot of "parent pressure" this year, so I didn't push the issue and try to get DD into the later audition.

 

We will be happy with whatever they choose for her. They are very fair and I think will give her the parts they feel will best fit.

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Dmcclure, that can be the worst age for casting! My kiddo was a wee size at age 12 as compared to her peers in her level. After having been the little Clara when she was 10 or 11 (it all mercifully gets blurred with the passing of the years), she continued to look very young and tiny the next couple of years even though she was past the age for that role.

 

I remember her being very disappointed with the roles she got over the next two years. It was hard because she'd had the thrill of some coveted parts right before that time. Of course, she knew that she was lucky she had been cast in them but she expected that pattern to continue. Until she grew into a distinct size -"are you an adult or a child?" - she had to go through a couple years of disappointment (it was good for her though :unsure: ).

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Dmcclure, that can be the worst age for casting!

Tell me about it! MY 12-year-old is about 5'6" :o , so she NEVER gets "child" roles anymore. In fact, she was much too tall last year to continue in the children's cast with the Joffrey. That was a bitter pill to swallow for someone who was still very much a child. As with all things, though, it was a good "growth" experience. :shrug:

 

Returning to the original topic: the Joffrey is great about posting height requirements. One audition slot is done by height (for the tiniest kids), the rest by years of experience. The LEAST experienced kids go last, and roles are filled throughout the day. At each audition the auditioner knows whether any casting slots remain, and is frank (but kind) with the kids. (My DD was a hair too tall for the first, height-based audition and duly auditioned at the end of the day. She was disappointed to find out that no roles remained, but enjoyed the experience. The next day, she got a call saying that she had landed one of the "tiny kid" rolls! So, the moral is that there is some flexibility, and you don't necessarily forgo an opportunity if you play by the rules. :D )

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