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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Height and Ability Expectations


camercad

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DD is tall for her age – she turned 10 in May and is now 5 feet tall. Given her height, she is often mistaken for being older – she is taller than most girls a year older than she is. However, her ability seems on par with her age. She wants to audition for our local professional ballet company’s Nutcracker performances, which has strict height criteria for various children’s parts (which I think is based on costume fittings).

Honestly, I am a little nervous that she will be auditioning with mostly (if not all) dancers who are older than her, with more dance experience. Unfortunately for us, Clara and the party scene children have to be between 4 ft, 5 inches and 5 ft tall (and I can’t guarantee DD will not grow anymore before early Sept. auditions). If not for her height, I think she would have had a good shot for a part in the scene. The other children’s parts for taller dancers are fewer and expect intermediate to advanced ballet technique – many of the former Claras usually move into these parts.

We will probably go ahead and do the auditions for experience sake. Still, it worries me how to tackle the issue of height and dance experience expectations.

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Do you mean how to handle it with the auditioners? Will there be some sort of paperwork and/or is the audition split by levels?

 

I know when we do auditions, our children all have colored audition numbers that they wear on their leotards so that we can quickly see what level they are.

For example: Maybe all Ballet 2s are blue, ballet 3s green, etc.

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This will be the first time DD will audition, so I don't know the process first-hand. According to what has been posted, they give skill level and height criteria for each part. I've pasted below some of the audition information

 

11:45-2:00 PM Clara, Party and Prologue Girls

Boys and girls 4 feet 5 inches to 5 feet. Boys do not need formal dance training, but should be able to execute simple steps and follow stage directions. Girls need intermediate ballet technique.

 

2:00-3:00 PM Candy Canes

Girls with intermediate to advanced ballet technique, 4 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 5 inches.

 

4:00 - 5:00 PM Angels

Girls with intermediate to advanced dance training, 4 feet 11 inches and over.

 

5:00-6:00 PM Chinese Attendants

Girls with intermediate ballet technique, 4 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 2 inches.

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Most likely your expectations are correct. Since the audtioners will probably be grouped by height, she will be auditioning with kids who are older than she is. She may not the the technique yet to compete with them and so I would expect her to not get a part.

 

If you are trying to manage DD's expectations, I would simply explain that she is too tall right now for the roles for her age that she is probably qualified to dance. If she wants to audition for the experience, that seems fine, but I would be quite clear to her that most likely she will not get a part this year.

 

My dd was too tall for the Nut roles when she was 10 as well, but by the time she was 11 and 12, it all worked out.

 

Good luck.

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Well, I think I would simply handle it with your dd, making sure she understands that you do not place too much importance on whatever the results of this audition will be; that you're so proud of her for wanting to put herself out there; that this audition is for the experience of doing auditions, and let the chips fall.

 

There's nothing she can do about her height vs. her level, and it won't be too long before others are catching up to her and maybe even surpassing!

 

All you can do is wait until it is closer to the auditions and see where she falls height-wise, then take her to whichever audition she qualifies for.

 

Auditions can be fun if the attitude going in is exactly that!

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Yes, I think managing expectation will be the key. She doesn't have much experience with the audition process, so I think we'll have a long talk about what is best to expect and not expect.

And, yes, I hope in a year a two this will be a non-issue. It'll be interesting to see what her max height will be. My guess is 5 ft, 6 inches - halfway between her father and I.

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Which should be an excellent height!

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I am very familiar with this particular audition process. :P I wish I had realized ahead of time that I needed to help my dd manage her expectations. She was crushed when many of her friends were chosen immediately for early parts, and initially felt like she was a terrible dancer that no one wanted (and she asked to go home). Although I talked to her beforehand, telling her to not worry about getting a part, I didn't think to discuss the fact that friends from her studio might get parts even if she didn't. She eventually was chosen to be a Chinese Attendant, but it was towards the end of the day, and she was worrying and fretting the entire time. Lesson learned for mom and daughter both! On the whole it was a great experience, but I think you have an opportunity to prep your dd ahead of time and avoid--or at least lessen--her disappointment if she doesn't get a part (or the part she wants), even if her friends do. Feel free to pm me if you have questions I may be able to answer.

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By the age of 9, I knew my DD would never be Clara and I let her know that as well. Too tall. Funny enough, she never really wanted to be Clara since, in her youth company's version, she barely dances the second act anyway. Her height has resulted in completely opposite types of casting. Sometimes she was grouped with taller, older dancers who one might say were below the level of other dancers their own age but on the level of my DD's age. Sometimes she was mixed in the Corps with older, more experience dancers but was cast there because she was th same height and close enough to their ability to mix in. And more recently, she might get lucky and either have a solo which doesn't have a height restriction or a demi-solo with another dancer(s) with similar height and similar ability in a part which isn't ususally cast to dancers their age.

 

You'll have to find the silver lining there for however she gets cast and make it special if it looks like she won't be with her (shorter) friends.

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If your dd doesn't get cast as she desires (or cast at all), take heart. It will get better. My dd faced a similar situation when she was 11. All of her friends got 3-4 parts with lots of stage time. The AD told me (in front of other moms) my dd was a "giant" and a "misfit" (not that I asked for any explanation of her casting decisions.....). :angry2: DD got a small role and didn't get to even dance. It was totally due to her height (at the time, she was the only one of her peers to be put on pointe). DD accepted the situation much better than I did (dks usually do!)! It was a learning experience for us both. The next year, and all years since, she was cast exceptionally well.

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The parts will come, if not this year then next year. My dd was a little chubby and could not fit into the party girl costumes. The first year she tried she did not make it at all. The second year, all of her friends made party girl and a few other rolls and dd was only a little mouse for every single performance (13 in all!) The next year she she grew and thinned out and did make party girl finally. The following year, auditions were over and she came home without a part (or so she thought.) She cried for days only to find out she was Clara.

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Thanks to everyone (from this thread, as well as direct emails to me) for their feedback and recommendations. It has been great to get such thorough and specific advice. I will definitely be sitting down and having a conversation about the audition process and expectations, stressing the importance of just experiencing the audition process versus receiving any specific role.

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Just wanted to add this... Whatever role your dd is offered, tell her to dance it to the best of her ability with all of her heart. Her good attitude will be noted and remembered!

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I also have a tall DD. At 10 she is 4' 11'' and the tallest girl in her level. She has not been picked for many performing opportunities because she is simply too tall for the costumes at her level. At one audition to be an extra child on stage with the Royal Ballet of Denmark, she was dismissed immediately because of her height. However, her good attitude and maturity was noted by the director (there were girls older than her bawling like infants!) and he personally escorted her back to me saying that he was sure that she would make a great dancer someday. She and I have discussed her height many times and I constantly tell her that someday she will stand out for her ability and her height will showcase that! :shrug:

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I will definitely recommend having a good attitude regardless of the outcome - thanks for the reminder.

Also, it is nice to hear DD is not alone as being the "tall one". She already feels self-conscious about being places in the back during some performances and we've had long talks about how all parts of the stage is important.

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