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Double Casting

Guest get2thepointe

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Guest get2thepointe

For the Christmas production our company is having double casting on some parts. In this case who normally gets the part for the "BIG" performance--the evening performance when parents, grandparents, etc. attend. I hear auditioning for parts as a part of a company performance is taboo. Yet it sounds pretty good to me considering some little girls/guys will get left without a chance to perform before their families. Keep in mind all attend all rehearsals and practices.


Can someone enlighten me about how this is done in your area? What's the protocol?

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In our professional company, the big performance is press night. The casting is made as strong as possible for that night, for obvious reasons. Usually, people put out first for press night are those who did the dance the year before; it really takes 2 years or more to go through a Nutcracker role.


We all have friends coming to see the show --- but it is ultimately for the audience, not our own egos. I just tell my friends they'll get to see a great show, and they'll see me in whatever parts I am (or am not) in. If they only care enough about ballet to see me, I'd rather they let the seat go so someone else can see the show.

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Generally casting is done far enough in advance that you will know which performances include your dancer -- then it is just a matter of purchasing tickets accordingly.


For student productions of the Nutcracker, it is often the matinees which sell out first, as the times for these are more appropriate for families.

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Boy, am I glad to have that scenario :sweating: behind us now.


Daughter's pre-pro has a student ballet company. ALL roles are double-cast, and possibly even triple or quadruple casting, depending on the role. For example, some years Sugar Plum has been danced by 4 different students. Who got which performances was always a nail-biter for the dancers. Most years there are 8 - 10 performances of Nut spanning two weekends. At least 4 of them are matinees. Families come mostly to the matinees so they usually sell out first.


Of course all the dancers want to dance the Saturday evening performances :) Who actually gets it? Well, in my 14 years observing such decisions, I can honestly say that there was no consistent rule applied. Sometimes the people who got that coveted placement were the best dancers for the parts; sometimes not. Sometimes clearly a dancer was awarded that evening's role because of family connections to the studio; other years the exact opposite held true.


I think it depended on what pressures were being felt by the artistic staff at the given time. If there were 4 dancers alternating a role, and they were each similar enough in ability, then the one with the connections won out every single time. If there was clearly a dancer who outshone the other alternates for a role, regardless of connections, that person got the Saturday evening slot. If the artistic staff knew that certain professionals were going to be in the audience at a given performance, day or night, then the strongest dancers were inserted there.


The kids themselves expend an awful lot of energy initially in these casting decisions. Initially some have been known to agonize over it and I've known more than one parent who's found a reason to insist that their dancer get the coveted slot :(

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For Nut, our company double-casts the childrens' parts, A and B. Each cast does half the performances (8 or so apiece), splitting the matinee and evening roles. The schedule comes out in early November, and is pretty much set in stone, so that ticket purchasing for families, etc. is simplified. "A", the stronger, more experienced cast, dances opening night (press night). My dancing daughter's only frustration this year is that "B" is doing both student performances. She really enjoys those, but this year, when her school goes on the field trip to see Nut, as an "A" cast member, she'll be watching, too. That's okay, since it's her only chance to SEE Nutcracker this year.

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In our pro company production of Nuts, there are two student casts (the professionals are sometimes triple cast). The cast a dancer will be in is posted at the same time the cast list is published. Our AD does allow students to request a weekend at the time they audition, if they have reason to do so. One cast does all shows (four) the first weekend, the other cast does all shows (four) the second weekend. This means everyone gets to do both matinees and evening shows. It does however make for very tired dancers when there are two shows in one day!


As to which is better, this is really up for grabs. The first weekend cast gets the press review. I think that usually this is the strongest cast. Sometimes, the dancers for both casts are of equal ability in certain roles and then I think it is just a toss up. I've heard many a debate about which Clara was the best. :shrug: If the Claras are of different ages, the first weekend Clara is usually the oldest. When they are the same age, it is a much more subjective decision. However, the second weekend is always better attended, as school is out by this time and those who missed the first weekend, rush to get tickets when they realize that there is only one weekend left. So, the second cast is often seen by far more of the community at large than the first cast and so many prefer this weekend. If you compare this to the way the professionals are cast here, the most senior dancers will dance the major roles on opening night. Then, they will alternate with one or two others each performance throughout both weekends.


In our Nuts, it is highly coveted for students to be cast in both casts. This is not done widely, which makes it all the more attractive! Sometimes dancers are given different parts in each cast and sometimes they perform the same role both weekends. In more rare cases, they perform one role both weekends and are given an additional role on one weekend. The goal for the serious dancers here is always to be dancing as many performances as possible and getting to dance two roles in the same performance is considered 'ballet heaven'! :)

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Baalletbooster's post made me realize I should clarify something in my post. Although a particular role may be double, triple or quadruple-cast, that does not mean that it's the only role being performed by those dancers. My daughter had at least one alternate for every single role she ever danced but she usually danced 4 different roles or more. Some were solos, some were corps parts. It was rare for her to not be dancing at all in a given performance. As a result, she never got to see her school's Nut as an audience member. But of course, she'd always rather be dancing. :)

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The Nut my DD performs in also double and triple casts. What day they are chosen to dance might make a difference to the younger cast members who only have one part, but mostly this doesn't affect corp members and diverts because they are dancing alternate roles on the other days.


There is always the problem of some students getting more or better roles than others, but that is par for the course

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In our Nutcracker, some of our parts are double-cast. If the dancers themselves can agree to a relatively equitable sharing of the part (there are 5 performances), they are allowed to do that. If they would rather not discuss it, they draw straws and one person gets the Thursday School show and Sat. night, while the other person gets Friday School show, Friday Public Show and Sunday Matinee. It usually works fine. The other way we do it is to have the girls share two parts (for instance Chinese Lead and Arabian Lead) and then they alternate which nights they get to do which parts and so they are always dancing (and for the most part, happy). It usually works pretty well; the only time there are problems is when the parents start complaining (then watch out!!!), but that is usually not too much of a problem most years.

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