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Already Fed Up


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So, here we are in October and already I am frustrated with my daughter's dance school. Nutcracker auditions were kind of a joke- my daughter's class got all of the same parts as the last TWO years, and I am somehow expected to want to pay the exorbitant fees for her to be involved. (And, yes, it is mandatory to be involved, in order to remain in the school's "company" class.) Not only are there no new parts for my dd's group, but for the second year in a row, the director created new roles for the girls that are only one year older than her, in order for THEM to have more opportunities. It is getting impossible to not comment on the fact that I don't want to spend the MANDATORY ticket fees for my family to see my daughter dance in the same roles- some of which SHE has had for not two years, but FOUR years. Let's be honest, my family does not come to see the other girls- they come to see HER. Is it ridiculous to expect that the director of school understand that she is not being fair to an entire class of children, not to mention their parents?

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First, take a deep breath! :) While it may be discouraging to have the same part again, it is not at all unusual for certain ages to stay in the same Nutcracker part for several years. I'm sure it's frustrating, but it's not at all unusual. So take a moment to cross reference Nutcracker to other activities where you might have someone come see your child: soccer, softball, football. And there as well, they will come for support simply because they love the child and not because they get to see them doing something different each time.


I do understand your frustration. DD was a Party Child for 3 if not 4 years simply because she fit the costume even when her own classmates (who were taller but the same age) got to do other parts. But we must remember that the child was cast, that she is performing and that our job is to support her no matter what part she gets. I enjoyed each and every minute she was a Party Child because I enjoyed seeing her perform. If you feel there is something sinister in the casting of this class, then do go discuss it with the AD. But just do know that this is not at all unusual. And remember, if your child should happen to become a professional it's likely she'll start right back over doing the same parts for years in a row again. Just like when your child progresses to performing in Snow and Flowers, that's what people will come to see them do for the remainder of their student dancing.

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I hear you as well. Dd has had most of her Nut roles for 2 yrs in a row.


She was a party child for 4 years. The last year, she was a party child with children all one to two or more levels below her because she still fit the costume.


Other years, we've had some children move into roles a year or two earlier than typical because of the way the age groups break out. Then, sometimes, they get "stuck" in those roles for longer than expected (ie cast in the same part for several years). There are kids who are polichinelles until they are tall enough and can handle the choreography of the Russian dance. That can be several years in our Nut.


And then, once they reach the highest level, they are all flowers and snow unless they have a lead. It can be as many as 5 years in those roles!

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My husband is thrilled that our DD is too tall for Nutcracker this year (and probably for the foreseeable future) but she would push a broom if it meant she got to perform ! LOL Any time on stage is a good time! Personally I send good thoughts and wishes your way! :)

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We decided this year to audition for a different company. It did ruffel some feathers at her school. It paid off in the long run. My dd got a role she could not pass up. She gets to dance more which is all she wants to do. Her school is limited for her because she is in the in-between size and age. Not young or short enough but not old and tall enough. She learned a lot by doing this and I have left all the decisions to her as what she chose to do for the nutcracker this year. I wish you the best in all decisions.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that not all schools handle performing opportunities or training in the same way.


Many professional company-attached schools do not charge for "costume fees", mandatory ticket requirements, or participation fees. There may be other fees associated, such as if your child wishes to have professional pictures done, or if you wish to have a yard sign that notates your child as a participant, but some of these fees that posters describe associated with performances really have been a surprise to me.


Perhaps it is time to see what other schools in your area do? What you are describing sounds more like a school that is focused on competitions and performing, rather than training?

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With regard to the topic of performance fees, mandatory ticket purchases, etc. we have had the following recent discussions:


How much are schools charging for performance fees, etc.?




How much money are schools making on performances?



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Thank you so much for all of the support! I DO need to take a deep breath! My daughter is not tall enough for many roles yet, so I do understand the need to keep her in the costumes that she will fit into, since all of the costumes are rentals. And you are right, it is similar to a child playing soccer- you watch the games over and over to support the CHILD. I guess when faced with the dance school's "direct line into my wallet", I lose sight of what is truly important. I guess it is just an unlucky situation for my daughter that she has outgrown the roles, if not the costumes!

And yes, this is a school that is much more about the competitions and recitals, and not the actual technique. It's quite depressing, and we are taking steps to change my dd's situation.

Edited by Girlysmom
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And yes, this is a school that is much more about the competitions and recitals, and not the actual technique. It's quite depressing, and we are taking steps to change my dd's situation.



Honestly, that would concern me more than multiple years of casting in the same role (says the mom of a DS who can look forward to being cast in the essentially non dancing role of "Party Boy" for the next kajillion years! :innocent: ). If your daughter wants to keep on improving as a dancer she should probably look to a school that focuses on that. I don't know your particular situation, though, so I may be pretty off base.

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Just like when your child progresses to performing in Snow and Flowers, that's what people will come to see them do for the remainder of their student dancing.


Funny how no one complains about having to do those numbers 4 times or more. :grinning:


But, I do sympathize, because while I don't think there's anything unusual or bad about repeating a role, it would get old if you had to do it 3 or 4 years in a row. Part of the fun each year is for the dancers to see what part they're going to get this year. So, while the more advanced dancers do perform the Snow and Flowers every year, they are also cast in different lead roles every year, so they are getting some variety.


I also tend to think that the auditions are a waste of time, because you know darn well that the AD already has a pretty good idea of who they want for the main roles, and as mentioned, they also tend to cast to fit the costumes. In our studio, everybody has a pretty good idea who's going to be Sugar Plum or Clara long before the auditions are held.

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I also tend to think that the auditions are a waste of time, because you know darn well that the AD already has a pretty good idea of who they want for the main roles, and as mentioned, they also tend to cast to fit the costumes. In our studio, everybody has a pretty good idea who's going to be Sugar Plum or Clara long before the auditions are held.


I do take issue with this over generalization of Artistic Directors. Cakers, it is possible that in your studio environment this is true, but I do not feel that it is true for all situations.


In our studio environment, the casting is decided between all of the ballet teachers at the studio AFTER a large audition. The Artistic Director then has the final say. This is usually more about who is 1st Cast vs. 2nd Cast... and even that is decided by trickle down effect (Dancer A is 1st Cast Arabian, so Dancer B has to be 1st Cast Chinese since those roles dance back to back, etc.).


With that said, yes, costuming can come into play. Some costumes are made to fit a certain size dancer, so no matter how much you want a dancer to do that role, sometimes they just don't fit the costume. Also, remember, the costumes are usually created during a time when the Artistic Director & Costumer had a specific vision for the scene/dance/role. Example: they wanted 4ft tall Angels, or teenage Party Children, or Clara on pointe.... Costumes are not cheaply remade/replaced, so that does have to be considered when casting dancers!


I will admit that we ballet teachers probably had certain dancers in mind before the audition, but the audition ALWAYS changes those perceptions; it is amazing how some dancers really shine in an audition, and some dancers do not!! There are also times that some dancers think they have a role 'in the bag,' so during the audition they may not try as hard.... We will be more inclined to cast a dancer that did well in the audition, then to cast the dancer that 'expects' a certain role. Auditions can also be very revealing about a dancers strengths/weaknesses that you don't always notice in class.... Dancer C could be a very hard worker in class, but they still cannot do the Italian fouettes that are needed for the variation you thought they would look good dancing in. That is when it comes down to: "who else did the Italian fouettes well?" or "do we have time for Dancer C to learn Italian fouettes before the show" or "maybe we should rechoreograph the role, because Dancer C looks so lovely in the role, but cannot do the Italian fouettes...."


To put everything into perspective - EVERY YEAR I danced the role of "Soldier Doll," from the time I was 14 - 24; as a student & professional, in various companies. I had to learn to accept it, and dance it to the best of my ability, every time... every year!

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Sorry, but I have to be devil's advocate here.......I agree with cakers. In my short 3 years in the ballet world, I have watched inferior dancers, who needed correction DURING the audition get the role for two important reasons. One, they fit the costume/look and two, they are a favorite. I would love to see the opposite but there it is. :grinning:


Now having said that, it does appear to be confined to the school, not the professional company associated with our school. Perhaps our situation is like this due to the fact that literally only one person decides which students get picked. And add to that she has been doing it this way for a really long time; sort of an institution. lol The proof in this hypothesis is last spring, this person hand picked students to audition for a visiting company despite that it was an open audition. None, of her handpicked students were picked. The girls went into full meltdown, with a parent explaining that in the past when this person picked them for auditions they were ALWAYS chosen. My daughter and I had a good chuckle over that. The real world is going to be a shock for them! :blink:

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I agree with buzzandmoo. At one of my DDs studios, the same girl danced the lead in the full-length ballet and all the smaller rep pieces as well, was chosen for the RDA Honor Company, etc. She was a very lovely dancer, probably one of the best at the studio, but she did not want all the roles as it was difficult for her to do everything at high school she wanted to do, as well as excell at her academics. But she still was cast. It seems to me if it is a student company, then it is all about learning dance and the art of performing. And without stage experience, there will be a large void in the training. So I believe that in pre-pro performances, there should be more of an attempt to spread out the roles over time so that many of the students have the possibility for a significant dance role.

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This is one of those issues in which everyone can say "Well, in my personal experience..." and we will never get anywhere. One's personal experience is exactly that--one experience. It does not mean the vast majority of artistic directors do things a certain way, which is what GTLS is saying. It would be more helpful if we could discuss problems that we recognise are unique to our own situations and then consider how to solve or otherwise deal with them.

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I, personally, find the fact that many situations are NOT unique to my child's dance instruction somewhat reassuring. It is extremely helpful to read how other parents handle the same experiences, both good and bad, for it gives me ideas on how to be a better advocate for my dd's training. This thread alone has made me realize that it is quite common for children to dance the same roles for years, and that actually gives me peace of mind. This thread also reminded me that artistic directors are free to run their schools as they so choose, and that in the end it is up to me to make sure that my dd is having a positive experience. The answers in this post of "well, in my personal experience" are EXACTLY the words I am looking for, since I am trying to learn from other parents who have already been where I am with my young dd now, and I truly appreciate every response that is posted to any questions I have.

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