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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker: Multiple Audition Etiquette


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Well, we aren't hearing from any ADs here, but I would expect that in cases with open auditions, the ADs know that a certain number of those auditioning will not accept the roles (for whatever reason), and plan accordingly.


As far as posting cast lists and the like, most open auditions with which I am familiar give priority to their own students, and use the open audition to fill in whatever roles are remaining.


In terms of managing multiple children in multiple Nutcrackers -- I know of one case where two daughters were in the same production but in different casts -- and each cast had a run of 12 performances ... :)

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Well, we aren't hearing from any ADs here, but I would expect that in cases with open auditions, the ADs know that a certain number of those auditioning will not accept the roles (for whatever reason), and plan accordingly.

I'm of course not an AD, but at least in my experience with two different productions, dancers are expected to accept the roles that they are offered. Rehearsal and performance schedules are handed out before the audition and dancers given attendance expectations at that time. For the pro performance that Kait used to audition for, dancers are chosen right there, and everyone else sent home. If someone were to decline later, I don't know where they would find a replacement.

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I think balletbooster said it all:


Trying to hedge your bets, while being deceptive, is not the lesson we want to teach our kids. 




[M]ost local Nuts DO have the expectation that those who audition will accept the role they are given.


If a dancer is willing to accept an offered role in either production, then auditioning for multiple productions may be a valuable learning experience and, as with SIs, might help the dancer decide which production "flavor" might be a better match. However, the dancer should be willing to live with his/her decision to accept (or decline) an offered role. To accept a role in one production, only to later quit that production and accept a "better" role in another production is (1) unprofessional; (2) unreliable; and (3) greedy.


I know of one parent who stated that the children should all be allowed to audition for all the productions and to perform in as many productions as possible in a season--even if it meant shorting rehearsals at one or all. After all, she reasoned, "these are for the children". I disagree. These productions are staged (1) to make money for the companies/schools; (2) to enhance/market the companies/schools; and (3) to provide a vehicle to introduce children to the arts. These productions are not staged altruistically to showcase little Susie and little Johnny (not even recitals are for that purpose---only in-class demonstrations are based upon that motivation). The fact that a by-product of the productions is that the dancers are given a valuable opportunity to perform is secondary to the overall purpose of the event. The event is about the sum total, not the individuals.


The mentality that "it's all about me" really sticks in my craw. The idea that one should "get as much as I can" ignores that there are bigger lessons to be learned: Lessons such as that each part, no matter how small, has value to the whole; that there is value in starting small to grow big; that integrity of character is very valuable (and rare), but does not always allow the easiest path to be taken; that being special is not about how many other dancers one displaces.


In accepting roles in multiple productions with overlapping rehearsal schedules, what is being taught about the concept of commitment to a production and doing your very best? A performance is only as strong as its weakest dancer. A dancer who misses rehearsals is weaker in the choreography and causes weakness in the dancers around her/him because the spacing/timing is affected by that dancer's absence during rehearsals. The production is not about the opportunity afforded one dancer, it is about the sum total of ALL the dancer's commitment to strive to do their very best.


Additionally, there are a finite number of coveted roles to be cast and more eligible dancers than roles--even when there are multiple production opportunities. Every additional role a single dancer accepts in multiple productions means one less opportunity for some other dancer.


Once we had a dancer who grew up in an elite local production to become Clara. This dancer was exceptionally talented and beautiful dancer. The following year, she was still the right size to dance that role, but no one ever danced it two years in a row. Usually, the dancer had outgrown it. Before the auditions were held, this dancer was offered the opportunity to reprise the Clara role. However, she declined stating that she wanted her friend to have the opportunity to dance that role. By the following year, her friend would have outgrown the role. This dancer is now a professional dancer and has always been an outstanding role model for the dancers at our studio. The world needs more people like this dancer and Michael Phelps. We should use every opportunity to instill integrity and values such as these in our children. Nutcracker season provides an opportunity to teach/learn many life lessons. We should be very careful as to which ones we choose to teach.


I will step down from my soapbox.

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I hope nobody thought I was advocating the scenario outlined by dancemaven (ie, taking a role, then bowing out when offered something better).


I'm also not talking about a "if I can't be a party girl, then I won't be anything at all" situation.


I'm really discussing the scenario where a dancer is auditioning outside his/her school, and is therefore considering auditioning for more than one production. If accepted more than one place, she/he would have to turn down a role.


Is the consensus that, in such a situation, such a person should only audition for one production?

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Thank you, balletbooster. I am always a little nervous posting from my soapbox. My husband says I can be abit too strident with "telling what I really think".

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fendrock, when Kait auditioned for two productions, she knew that the rehearsals and performances would not overlap should she be offered a role in both. If your child can only do one production, my vote is that she should only audition for one.

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Oh, I agree that if one accepts a role, one must perform that role to the best of their ability, attending all rehearsals and performances!


I hope I did not come off as having a "me first" type of attitude; that is totally not me! I just think that if a dancer is not totally thrilled to be part of Nutcracker, they should not accept the role, and instead let it go to someone who IS totally delighted to have it. For example, the dancer DanceMaven mentioned who chose to decline the Clara role and instead let her friend have a chance. Of course, it is an honour to be chosen for any role, and an enriching experience to be part of a large-scale production no matter how small the part. Unfortunately, the school company in our area has gained a reputation of accepting all who audition, offering tiny (non-dancing) parts, and collecting large "production fees". They also tour, and it is a BIG time commitment. Hmm, the more I think about it, the less interested in having dds audition for this one at all.


The teacher who auditioned for the pro Nut last year told the children that they could "leave now" if they are not going to be thrilled with WHATEVER part they get. I did agree with her.


K8's mom mentioned that rehearsal schedules are handed out prior to auditions; they are not in our area. This would be a big help in making a decision.

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dancindaughters, both local productions here have very strict rehearsal attendance requirements. I don't see how they would be able to enforce these requirements without handing out rehearsal schedules prior to the audition.

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It's interesting to hear from all the parents who are concerned about a child being cast in multiple productions, or seeking better roles. My question is, though, what about the dancer who's concerned about not being cast at all? Perhaps the more recreational dancer? If she auditions for only one, isn't she limiting her possibilities? Does this change your perspective?


(Only curious, since my dd isn't auditioning anywhere.)

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Good question, Chedva. In Kait's case when she did two different Nuts, she already knew that she was cast in one production - although the company held open auditions for most parts, the most advanced kids were cast by a local teacher, and Kait had already been notified. In the second production, everyone who auditions gets a role.


That said, though, it doesn't usually take that long for casting decisions to be made and posted. A dancer would probably know fairly soon whether or not he/she was cast, and if not, then could of course audition elsewhere. I suppose that if you needed to know immediately, you could speak to the person in charge, explain the situation, and ask if you could call shortly for a decision.

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Yes, I should clarify as well. When DD auditioned for two productions, we accepted the parts in two productions. Luckily for us, one was run by our home school and the Moscow Ballet came in for the 2nd with one of our teachers as the local Rehearsal Mistress so schedules did not conflict.



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Guest Vicarmac

Got to comment on the idea that some other kid can have your spot if you up and quit, doesn't quite work that way on the Miami Ballet Road cast(experience with their Naples cast). They never call someone back up that might have had a spot that day. Instead they take someone from B cast and give them either a second role or switch them. So the kid that might of gotten that role, had the the quiter not auditioned, will NOT get the chance.

They try to make clear that you should not audition if you won't take the role offered. But one year some little boy (and they are always thrilled when a "real" boy tries out) got it. The next day at the first rehearsal he says I just tried out for fun to see if I could get it I don't really want to do it.

They don't give out the entire schedule but you know you might have to be there everyday the first week, called appropriately intensive week. Again it is in the audition material. They send someone to cast and then pretty much set and stage the kids roles in one weeks time, then they are off to another city and a local gal takes over for the rest of the rehearsals. But there are always disgruntled kids that decide to quit for roles in a lesser production etc. One year two ladies whose kids had done it the year before let them audition again even though they knew it might be too hard to get them there. They quit the same night saying they couldn't drive them to rehearsals, did they call up the next in line? No. More angels got to be in both casts (luckily angels almost always have two casts). As hard as it may seem unless you know for sure there is no conflict you should not commit to a Nutcracker and then try out for another.

In the case where two auditions are so close you won't know about the first before the second try out but you should be sure to decline one if it conflicts as soon as possible so if there is a chance for another kid to get that spot they can. I also agree with K8s advice on that issue.

There was one civic production that used to be done here that wasn't as popular to do as the Miami City Ballet. Many years it auditioned after the MCB one so it was easy to see if you could get in MCB first. But every once in a while it was the other way around. So there would be kids that saw what they got there and still auditioned for the Miami one and then quit one if it conflicted, usually the civic one. That had to drive them nuts ( :devil: had to say that) no wonder it's no

longer done.

I want to add I don't think it is wrong to try to do 2 it it is doable, but if you know it will conflict and have already accepted a part in one it would be better to just not try out for the other.

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I have been reading this thread with envy. The only Nutcracker opportunity, within150 miles, is with a touring ballet company (one weekend – 4 performances). Auditions are held in September and rehearsals are every Saturday until the performance. One of the local studio’s AD serves as the local Ballet Mistress. Her studio is the largest in the area and she has a connection to the local symphony that brings in the ballet company. Although the auditions are open to all students who meet the height, age, and years of ballet training requirements - the students chosen are mostly from this AD’s studio. Last Saturday was the audition for this year’s Nut. The same girl will perform the role of “Clara” for the THIRD consecutive year. Her mother is the AD’s parent-assistant (passes out the audition forms and rehearsal schedules, collects the money, measures the dancers, etc). Because of this situation other studios in the area are finding or developing other non-Nut opportunities for their students to perform – but sadly it just isn’t the same.


Nutcracker season provides an opportunity to teach/learn many life lessons.  We should be very careful as to which ones we choose to teach.

Dancemaven thankyou, I enjoyed your soapbox

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