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Early Nutcracker rehearsals


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My 6 year old daughter has been waiting since age two and half (when she first saw Nutcracker) to have a chance to perform in it. Yesterday she auditioned for the first time--nerve-wracking for me, exciting for her. I was a little (more than a little?) surprised when I was handed the rehearsal schedule, however. Rehearsals begin nary a week after school is out at the end of June, one to three per week, and continue through the performances in December. Dancers (including the 6 to 8 year olds) are allowed one "week" of vacation in that six month period, and may be excused from rehearsal only for their own "serious illness" or death in the immediate family.


Since I have not been involved in any Nutcracker performance anywhere in more than 15 years, I feel a bit out of tune. Back then, I remember rehearsals started somewhere in August or September and there were a certain number of excusable absences (though I was HS/college age and remember being at rehearsal even with colds and such). Is what my daughter being asked the norm these days, even for 6 to 8 year-olds? I am certainly one who understands the commitment involved in a ballet performance, but it struck me as a very early start and a long haul for that age group.


I'd like to know from all of your experiences out there, is this the age now that this sort of commitment starts? Feeling a bit naive here now that I'm the parent...

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Blanche, I've never heard of any rehearsal schedule like this - starting in June??! :pinch: Is this a Nutcracker being put on by a ballet school or what?

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That is a crazy schedule! It sounds to me as if someone is trying to "lock in" students for the upcoming school year.

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Absolutely too much rehearsal and sounds pretty ridiculous to me. I agree with Mel. Is there a fee for this Nutcracker, are you paying for summer classes to participate? Sounds like a way to keep students and pay the summer bills if so.


We start in September and even with that by performance time, the kids have had "enough", even though they love it at the same time. I'd worry about baby burnout.



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Ridiculous. It doesn't even allow for a summer vacation of more than a week, for a 6 year old! Absurd. Our rehearsals generally start in October, and that includes the little ones.

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So I'm not crazy thinking that it's a bit ridiculous. I really don't want to burn out a six year old and turn her off from what otherwise she truly enjoys.


Momof3darlings, aside from the audition fee ($20) this age group doesn't have to pay for the summer, but the older girls do, so I, too, get the impression that there is definitely a "fundraising" aspect to this. The other "rule" that I found a bit disturbing is that the over 9's have to attend the school's SI if they are cast in Nutcracker. This, in addition to being a potential money grab, seems quite rigid as well.


The performance is a professional company/school production, but there have been some major changes in administration in the past two years that have concerned me...(I have been a student there for the past six years, but it's waaaay different dealing with issues from a parental standpoint than as an adult student.)


Advice needed, then (and I may be putting the cart before the horse if she doesn't actually get cast), as to whether or not to speak up about this type of schedule, or just not let her participate and look around for other opportunities. Like I said, as a parent, I'm so much a beginner, and I know you all have so much more wisdom than I...

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Holding Nutcracker over the heads of the students to keep them there for their own SI might not be illegal, but, IMO, it is immoral and unethical, and should be illegal! :pinch: It is pure and simple a way to keep their school going in the summer because obviously they do not have an SI that attracts students from other places. I say take her to a different school. There are a number of them in the MD/DC area that do Nuts, and do not do it in the summer! Absurd.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh.


I was thinking that moving on would be the best option as well, but I didn't want to rush into looking elsewhere on gut feeling alone. I should trust my instincts, then, that what is happening is just plain WRONG.

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Yes, trust your instincts, Blanche. :pinch:

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It's frustrating that for many 'pre-pro' schools, the annual Nutcracker production has become nothing but a fundraiser. The school gets all the credit,$$,etc and the parents end up paying a fortune for the wonderful 'priveledge' of having their dk's perform. Dd was ASKED to perform a part and then we were billed ad nauseum :pinch: . I learned a lesson from that one.


If one starts rehearsing in June, the music will become repulsive by Oct. What does this do for the magic of the Nutcracker for the young ones? Too many self serving 'pre-pro' 'dolly dinklesque' schools out there..........

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Count this as a blessing! It is much easier to find out when your child is 6 that a school has unrealistic demands on their students! Personally it would make me wonder what other types of "requirements" they have for their school.


Run, don't walk out of the studio! With end of the year performances and registration coming up this is an excellent time to find another studio for your dd.

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We also do not have rehearsals during the summer. I think they start in late september. And our Auditions are open to all area dancers, not just the students at our school. The purpose is to give area dancers a chance to dance along side proffessional dancers and the opportunity to experience a true proffessional production. They are not required to take ballet classes at our school but need to show proof that they are keeping up with their training at their home school.

Edited by greyhound
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Years ago, my daughter was in a musical theater rehearsal that was oozing later into the night, minute by minute by minute, well past the hour that children in the cast should have been dismissed. Thus my presence in the hallway outside the rehearsal room.


The choreographer (replaced the following week) was ill-suited for this particular genre, and the cast bore the weight of his inexperience and impatience (and perhaps lack of preparation). Aside from the irregular hour, cast members of all ages were being more or less pushed here and there to redo things in different ways, etc. etc. etc. Parents, partners and spouses silently fumed in the hallway; palpable misery oozed from the rehearsal room.


Suddenly one of the adult actors simply strode out of the room through the hallway where we were waiting, saying simply, "I don't have to take this; I'm a grown up!"


I have always thought that was a telling remark and a workable measuring stick as to what expectations and burdens professionals should put on children.


The burden you describe is, of course, unreasonable. In addition, what child would not find such a lengthy rehearsal period b-o-r-i-n-g? In additional addition, should your child, 7 or 8 years or so from now, decide to really aim for a professional career, she will have many occasions of missing special family events, birthdays, weddings, altering the schedule of family vacations, etc.


Unfortunately, in this biz, occasionally you will come upon professionals who are engaged in their own world of make believe... by tormenting the children in some way such as this, they are making believe they are running some kind of super professional outfit. In reality, they are simply revealing their lack of knowledge and care of the professional and age appropriate way to work with talented children.


Good luck on this journey, which for the most part, should be a joyful one for you and your young dancer! :pinch:

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A previous school that DD was at did its Nut casting in May, then began rehearsals in July, took off during August, and resumed a heavy schedule in September with performances in early December. It did feel like too much at times and resulted, I felt, in a very stiff and joyless performance. The kids were rehearsed within an inch of their young lives, but some were so afraid of making mistakes, you saw a lot of "deer in the headlights" faces onstage.

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