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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker: Multiple Audition Etiquette


fendrock

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What are your thoughts on auditioning for multiple Nutcrackers in order to spend the season in the best available role?

 

In my experience, most productions actively discourage this, for example, by having a policy that if a dancer is offered a role and turns it down, they are not eligible to audition the next year.

 

But it is a big commitment on the part of the dancer, and, especially after having been in a number of Nutcrackers, a dancer feels that some roles are worth pursuing more than others.

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Fendrock, I'm not sure about the situation where this could happen, but I kind of think it's a good idea to grow up through the roles in your own school/company Nuts, if that is possible. I have watched our kids here start in the party scene, and maybe as mice or soldiers, some Clara's of course, move on to Military or Wooden Doll, and end up in Flowers, Snow, Arabian side girls, etc. Many of the Claras moved on to doing "Star", which is a lovely and very difficult solo in Mary Day's version of Nutcracker. Of course this year we have a brand new production, by Septime Webre, so no one knows yet what kind of progression or roles this will provide for the children and teens. But, it should be interesting! :D

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Well, I'm thinking of situations where the school doesn't provide appropriate roles for the student, for example, a company affiliated school where students can only audition for children's roles and the student is too old or too tall for children's parts.

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Ah, okay. That is different then. So, if there are other Nutcrackers she can do, why not? Does the school object?

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For myself, I wouldn't mind seeing people from other schools "guesting" with a different civic company, but it IS bad form to show up at two separate auditions for the same company under two different names. Saw this once; couldn't believe it.

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In our neck of the woods, there are several Nutcracker performances that are done, obviously, at the same time of the year. The local professional ballet company uses students in some roles, the local university production uses a very limited children's cast, a local modern company stages an all-student production, and a couple dance schools have their own productions. All of these productions hold auditions in some capacity. The auditions and the "offered" roles are not always done on the same schedule, however. Some audition and cast earlier than others. Some productions carry a more "elite" reputation--with correspondingly more limited opportunities for student-dancers.

 

However, in the last couple of years there has arisen a practice of some dancers to audition for multiple productions. Some actually try to perform in more than one production, but in doing so, they must cut some rehearsals for both. The scuttlebutt is that those in charge of the productions were not aware that the dancers were doing multiple productions. Certainly, in one production, the director was pulling his hair out wondering why he couldn't get his cast members to show up for rehearsals. Some would have the audacity to skip most rehearsals and then show up for dress rehearsal and expect to perform.

 

Other dancers have auditioned for multiple productions and have accepted a role in the first production cast. That director would base his casting on the accepted roles and arrange his rehearsals accordingly. Later, these same dancers might be offered a role in one of the other productions. They would then blow off the first production and accept the later casted production, thus, leaving the first director without his complete cast and scrambling to fill roles. It reached ridiculous proportions last year, which was really unfortunate since the production that tries to cast earliest does provide the most opportunities for the most dancers.

 

It would appear to me that dancers (and parents) need to make choices and once made, need to honor their commitments. If a dancer can audition for multiple productions and wait for her preferred role, then go for it. However, once a dancer accepts a role, I think she/he should honor that commitment and not toss it aside for a "better" offer. After all, this is one relatively short commitment---not an entire lifetime. The director and other cast members count on each dancer to do his or her part.

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Can't argue with dancemaven, but sometimes multiple Nuts work. My kid has done more than one in the same season; however, the rehearsals did not conflict, nor did the performances. Both directors knew that she was doing both productions. I was a wreck, but she had a great time. So if you can work out the scheduling, maybe more than one would work for your DD.

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This is a very timely topic for our family.

 

We basically have 2 options in our town; childrens roles in a professional production, or a variety of roles (often more than one per child ) ranging from Mother Ginger clown to Sugar Plum, Snow, Flowers, etc. with a local school ( not our own ).The trouble is, younger dd is too young to audition for pro Nut, which older dd danced with last year, and would like to again. Dancing with the pro co. is such a great experience, and older dd will soon be too tall to audition. At the same time, I like the idea of her getting her ( pointed :) ) toe in the door for future roles with the school nutcracker. Older dd LOVES ballet and is pretty good, but it is very unlikely she would dance professionally, so dancing with this "junior company" through high school might be her last chance to perform. ARG. I'm getting stressed just thinking about it.

 

Last year older dd did audition for both and was given a nice little part in the pro Nut and a minor part in the school production, so it was an easy decision. Younger dd was pretty upset to have to decline her 3 parts with the school Nut, but rehearsals would have conflicted, and I just couldn't deal with all that driving. I think I just left a message on the school answering machine that we were sorry, but "something had come up" and the girls would not be able to accept their parts. I hope this was OK.

 

Additionally, the school co. is know for being very political; the best parts always seem to go to those with connections. The casting for the pro. co. seemed much more equitable. I know of several children who declined parts with the school because they felt their parts were too small to make all the logistics and driving worthwhile. I probably wouldn't do that; Nutcracker is already an important and ( mostly ) enjoyable part of our Christmas season.

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I'm with K'8's mom. We've done it but we accepted both parts. Luckily for us, one was local and the other was Moscow travelling through so rehearsals and performance dates didn't conflict and were not intensively scheduled. It was a wonderful experience for DD, a harrowing experience for mom.

 

Fendrock-is the issue that she might audition for school affliated company and not get a part because of size/age? If that is the case, could you talk to the directors to explain the situation and get a feel for what to do? I just remember the year we auditioned for Moscow, the height requirement was 5'2" or less and still a "child's body" so only 2 advanced level dancers showed up. I remember the pain felt, when they actually did cast dancers out of the size requirements and those who assumed they would not get a part were crushed of their decision.

 

:) And boy oh boy, that last paragraph makes me realize how long ago that was. My own DD was 8, those "pained" dancers were 14 or 15. And I was the desk mom who had to console them for days. Oh my, oh my. I've been at this a LONG TIME, DD is now 16! :sweating:

 

vj

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I think that if you audition for two local Nuts that do have conflicting rehearsals and/or performances, it really is proper etiquette to speak with the AD of each beforehand (preferably not on the day of the audition) and explain your situation and what the variables are that might cause you to select one over the other.

 

If they give you the go-ahead to audition, then you can do so with a clear conscience. If they see a dancer that they like and who has the right look (size, age, etc.) and technical ability for a good part, they are likely to offer it, knowing of the possible conflict. HOwever, if no discussion has been had beforehand, all sorts of bad feelings and ramifications could result when you must turn one or the other down. :(

 

Most local Nuts do expect the auditionees to accept a role, if offered. For those that post a cast list, rather than contacting by phone or letter, it also makes it a bit bittersweet for the one who finds out that they are second choice for a coveted role, rather than being listed on the original cast list. Since we are dealing with kids, the feelings of the others who might be affected by this should be taken into account too. :thumbsup:

 

Always better to be safe than sorry. This is a good lesson for our kids too. Trying to hedge your bets, while being deceptive, is not the lesson we want to teach our kids. :blushing:

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I guess balletbooster's post gets to the heart of the matter -- is it really "deceptive" to audition for more than one Nutcracker in order to get the best possible role?

 

Will an AD look favorably on a parent who honestly states that her dancer is looking for the most challenging role, the one where he/she will spend more time on the stage, and, assuming she/he is offered a part in both productions, will choose the part accordingly?

 

This of course assumes that the dancer is offered roles in both productions -- and a dancer may want to audition more than one place just to increase the possibility of being offered a role.

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If the sole reason for auditioning for two Nuts is to see who offers the better part, with no plans or the ability to perform in both productions, then I'm not sure an AD will look favorably upon the situation. If the reason is more complex, (i.e. worry over whether the child will meet height requirements or might not be cast in one or the other, etc.) might also play into the reason. Those mitigating factors might set better with the AD than just the desire to spread your risk by auditioning for more than one production.

 

I think the crux of the matter is that if the AD does not look on your reasons favorably, then maybe auditioning for that company's production is not a good idea. If the expectation is that everyone who auditions wants to be in that production and whether or not they are thrilled with their roles, will accept them and give it their best effort, then I think it probably is deceptive to go into it with the clear knowledge that this is not your intention - unless you pass your intentions by the AD and get their blessing.

 

I'm sure there are many mitigating situations where many have auditioned in two locations and managed to back out of one or the other gracefully. But, if you are looking at it strictly from an ethical standpoint, I would talk with the ADs before auditioning.

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I don't know- I think that if I went to the AD of the school co, and said my dd was going to go with the production that offered the best role, it might seem like I was trying to pressure her into giving dd a good part! I don't think the pro. co. would even be interested in talking to me until after the audition. I think a lot of talk would make casting MORE complicated. Of, course, your city's company or school may be run differently.

 

I think it is OK to audition for more than one, just as one might audition for more than one SI without planning to go to more than one. In that analogy things could change eg: scholarship offer, or just loves the teacher of the audition class! Of course, I think it is important to notify immediately of dk's intentions, so that a "replacement" can be found.

 

This year I will try to get dd to make a decision BEFORE the audition, if only to spare younger dd disappointment. Maybe I will be nutty enough to have both dd's perform in different Nuts!

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I think the difference in auditioning for multiple Nuts (when you can't do both), without getting approval from the ADs first, as opposed to auditioning for multiple SIs, is that the SIs do NOT have the expectation that you will accept every SI offer you receive. It is expected that dancers audition for many SIs and must make choices after they receive their offers. SIs do not post a cast list for specific roles or make determinations about height of partners based upon casting, etc. But, as I said earlier, most local Nuts DO have the expectation that those who audition will accept the role they are given.

 

I really do understand why it is attractive to audition for more than one Nuts and I think it is great if you can do so with the ADs' approval. But, I still say that not discussing this up front seems to cross into a pretty gray area...

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