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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker...must make a choice

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Poor dd -- she got a letter from her school yesterday regarding Nutcracker, and she's all in a tizzy...because she has two options. Based on her height (professional production = no costume alternations), she could audition for the pro Company's Nut. She's done this for the past 3 years. However, based on her class level, she could also be a part of the school's demonstration/Nutcracker excerpt performance.


Okay...so cost-benefit analysis...or good old pros and cons....

The pro Nut....she absolutely LOVES this production, gets to perform in a fastastic venue about 10 times, gets lots of interaction with the company dancers. With her height, this may be the last Nut she's able to do. However, the kids' parts are pretty simplistic. The production positively eats the Christmas holiday for breakfast.

The school's Nut...will be exceprts -- Waltz of the Flowers, some of the other Act II variations. They will use the professional costumes from the previous mounting of the Company's Nut. It will perform earlier in December, for only a couple days, in the Company's small theatre.


Due to rehearsal conflicts, there is no way she can do both. I'm trying not to influence her either way...but if this were your kid, what would you advise?

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If having more free time around the holidays is important to you and your family and especially your dd, go with the smaller production. All of you may enjoy it more. If your dd loves the full out version, and you feel like you can deal with the schedule, go for that one. Either way, she is getting performance experience.


The positive point of the smaller production may be more dancing, less skipping around the stage. The positive of the full Nut is that she will be observing company dancers in action.


If these opportunities are equal to you and dd, perhaps a coin toss......

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Once students get to an advanced level, do they once again have the opportunity to participate in the company Nuts, as fill-in corp dancers? If not, I would suggest sticking with the pro production as long as you can. While the parts may be simplistic, that experience of being around the professionals, participating in a pro production and the interaction with the AD is really invaluable, if your dancer is looking for a pro career.


The school Nuts will be there in future years, but the pro production will not. It is easy to take this opportunity for granted if you attend a company school. But, as my daughter entered residency this year and met many fabulous dancers from local studios not attached to companies, so many of them have told her that they have never appeared in a company production and would have jumped at the chance.


All those nights schlepping downtown for rehearsals, in order for my daughter to come out on stage and remove Cinderella's cape or make one pass across the stage as a temple attendant in Firebird, etc. are highly treasured memories for her, even though the 'dancing' was minimal and the time commitment was great. :)

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I tend to agree with Balletbooster. DD has done both, in-studio demonstrations and full blown theatre productions. DD enjoyed both but has to admit that nothing beats dancing on "a real stage" in a "real theatre". Since smd's DD is young (I think 11) she can perform with the company this year and still have plenty of time to participate in the in-studio version as an early teen. Hopefully she'll eventually be able to return to the company production as an advanced dancer. :)

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What has worked for me is to repeat back to my son what he is saying.


So for example: He says- "I don't know what to do, the pro production or the school one."


I would say- "Oh, you don't know what to do huh?"


He says- "Yes. If I do the pro production, I get to dance alot more & hang out with the company members, and have fun. But the part is easier than the school one. And if I do the school one, I'll get a chance to do parts I've never done before."


I would say- "So, if you do the company one, you'll get to hang out with the company members, have fun, and dance alot more, and if you do the school one you'll get to dance parts you've never done before?"


He says- "Yeah. I really want to dance the part of the prince, but I don't know if I'm really ready for it. And, I really like hanging out with the company. So I think I'll do......."


He makes the decision- I'm just the sounding board (And driver!!). Takes the pressure off of me :wub:

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Guest Vicarmac

I agree with Don Ho and Balletbooster. My daughter did professional one until too tall. While the school one was okay there was nothing like the whole pro experience. There was no politics involved either.

We wondered if she (and I maybe) would feel let down the first season she was too tall, but we did not, the time had come. But those years are among her favorites. And she still had roles in her school's one night production.

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Clara 76, that sounds a lot like the conversations we've been having over the last couple of days. She brings up the subject, circles around it for a while...and it sounds like she's leaning strongly toward the professional Nut, as she knows they don't budge on the height requirements, and it will be several years before she could be asked to do the corps work that a few of the upmost level students perform.


It's been interesting watching the wheels in her head turn. She noted that she would be one of the youngest dancers in the school's production, so probably would not have a "plum" part there. Too, she said it might be good to go watch the school's excerpts this year, so she knows what it's all about (also -- her words -- so see if there are any "kinks" to work out). Balletbooster -- I know what you mean about the rehsearsal/stage time conumdrum -- dd's last experience with the company was as a "clock fairy" in Cinderella -- but she does truly treasure those experiences, and the opportunity for them to watch the company work is, as MasterCard says, priceless.


Our agreement has always been that I will drive her to any rehearsal....but I will not drag her. I think she just needed a few days to try to second-guess herself. Now she's decided that Plan A is to audition for the company Nut, and Plan B, if she doesn't make it, she'll investigate the school's option.


It will be interesting to see how this shakes out for the school/company in general. In height progression, our kids go from mice and Mother Ginger's "children" to party kids, then soldiers. Each year, we have a few of the kids quit when they are cast as party boys (instead of the coveted party girl) or soldiers. My dd has done both the party boy and soldier role, and enjoyed each tremendously (this year, it's probably soldier again, or rabbit), but I suppose there's some mystique (?) about the party girl gig. (Our Marie/Clara is danced by a company dancer.) One of the unspoken rules in our household is that if you are cast in a role, you accept gracefully, and do your best. Past history suggests there may be some other standards for other families...ah, the drama. :ermm: But those are other people's kids. Mine seems to have figured out what she wants to do in this situation, and has moved on to other thoughts. It's all good....and if she's happy, and happy dancing, then we're fine.


Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. It's never dull, is it? msd

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What has worked for me is to repeat back to my son what he is saying.
:clapping: Straight out of the "Positive Discipline for Parents" training manual entitled "Active and Reflective Listening Skills". :thumbsup: Clara 76.


Msd, you are on the right track since you are already asking and reflecting back your daughter's thoughts. There's no right answer to the choices your daughter has. No matter which choice she makes, even if she later decides it's the wrong one, the heavens will not move :wink: , thank goodness. She will enjoy what she's done, and have a little regret for what she didn't do. I think she might feel that way no matter WHICH one she chooses. They're both great for different reasons.


So look at it as a great time to keep honing those parental listening and reflecting back skills and (this is a big "AND") as long as your family can handle that awful Christmas schedule - I loved your description, BTW :D - let your daughter decide. What a great gift to her: the right and honor and respect from you to let her make her own decision. :thumbsup:

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At the pro company where my daughter previously trained, the same fear and loathing was held for the party boy part :D , until that magical year that the girl chosen for Clara reminded everyone that she had been a party boy for two previous years! Since then, little girls smile and are hopeful when they are cast as a party boy. Their mothers are always glad they don't have to mess with the curls, as they get to wear wigs! :wink:


Two of my daughter's favorite parts in Nuts have been boy parts. One was Major Domo, where she had to be a boy in blue tights and a beret, while all the other little girls her age were in pretty angel costumes with wings (but then she found out she got to lead the Sugar Plum onstage and all was well) and the other was the Baker, where she gleefully painted on a very curly mustache each performance! Nuts casting teaches some very important life lessons about the world of ballet that are really important ones! :clapping:

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