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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker disappointment


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I'm about to tell my just-turned-nine year old that she did not get a part in the nutcracker. Any advice of how to soften the blow?

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Ice cream?


I think it's important to just remind her that whether or not she gets a part, she is still a fantastic kid! There will be other shows and other roles (and there will also be other disappointments and other rejections, too), so focus on the next goal and try not to dwell too much on it. And sometimes our kids surprise us and are not nearly as broken up about these things as we think they will be.


Good Luck!

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They should sell disappointment sundaes. Ice cream is a nice distraction.


I agree that sometimes we think they will be much more upset than they end up being. And the not dwelling on it too much is also good advice.


My guess is that it will be hardest for her if some of her friends got parts and she didn't, and she hears them talking about it. I would try to prepare her for that and remind her that Nutcracker casting is just as much about height as anything and it doesn't mean anything about her dancing. And I would consider going to cheer on her friends (although maybe you bring that up later).

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Is there an older, talented dancer at your studio that wasn't cast at this age? That might help her see that this one year isn't her fate.

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I'm sorry for her....did she know going in to it that not getting a part could happen? At our nuts, pretty much everyone gets a part (it is very, very rare for someone not to.... In all my years there has only been 2 instances: one because the child wouldn't fit into any of the appropriate costumes and the other because they had previous engagements during the majority of rehearsal weekends...). If she knew ahead of time she might not get cast, remind her of that gently and give her hope about next time. If the school/company normally casts everyone and she was left out, that's much more difficult. If her friends got parts, that will also be hard. Try to tell her to be happy for them and one day it will be her turn if she keeps working hard, that's what I do when dd feels someone gets "better" parts, parts that she coveted but her friends got instead. That doesn't compare to not getting cast though as I'm sure your dd would rather have ANY part than stand outside.

Hopefully she'll be ok about it and realize it's just one year out of many to come if she works at it and keeps wanting it! {{{hugs}}}

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Since our studio does not put on a Nutcracker, my DD is going to audition for an outside one soon. If she does not get a part, I plan to make great use of those hours - find a great extracurricular for her to attend, or use the saved time to go on a mini-vacation or something. Does your daughter have a dual focus, dance + something? Most kids do. Well, if she is not in Nutcracker, she will have lots of free time and you will have some saved $$$ from not having to buy costumes etc. I would try to arrange a great autumn for her, and try for the Nutcracker again next year (if she still wants to).

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Oh shoot, I am so sorry. This is bad news to break to your daughter :-(


My DD dabbled in acting for about a year, we did lots of auditions and got lots of 'no's, with a few 'yes's sprinkled in.

The way I approached it with her (she was 9/10) was that it wasn't that they didn't want 'her'...it was really that someone else better matched what the casting director invisioned. Maybe they were looking for a shorter brunett, not a tall blonde...whatever it was it took to the pressure of 'not being good enough' off of her.


So along the same lines for your daughter, maybe they just had too many girls of her height/size/age/level etc for the number of costumes/roles that were available. Don't let her question her talent as a dancer....it is more likely a costuming issue or having too many girls in her age range etc.


And ice cream does help :-)

Good luck!

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Oh, have her read the navy dress/periwinkle dress analogy, right here on ballet talk! It's a great way to put it, and my dd refers to it all the time when we're discussing casting. I have heard more than once "guess I simply wasn't ms so-and-sos periwinkle dress".... I forget what it is titled but it's in a sticky on top, dealing with casting disappointments or something similar. A great read for young any dancer/ actor.


ETA it's called coping with rejection and can be found right up here in this forum. :)

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I do think that explaining that casting is often about things like height, current costume stock, and look. And, I don't think that changes. You can be an AMAZING dancer but if the available male to partner you is 5'7 you aren't going to get the role if you are 5'8. Many corps want people to be a certain height just because they have costumes at that size. So, the earlier that kids learn not to take it personally the better. And, they will cue off of you. You can be compassionate and sympathetic but not wrapped up in the drama.

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I think my dd was about the same age when she faced the rejection of not being cast. After a good cry, and a treat (it may well have been ice cream), we talked, and I suggested to her that getting rejected at the age of nine was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened to her. After she got over her incredulity at what I had just said, I reminded her that up until that point things had gone exceptionally well, for her, and everything had been easy. Exams had gone well, and there was excessive gushing by others after recitals etc. etc. I told her that it was good that I was having private concerns about this about easily things had come to her up until that point, and although I was also very sad for her, and hated to see her disappointment (what mother likes seeing her child's heartbroken?), I was actually relieved that she had this obstacle early on, so that she could learn to cope at a young age, rather than be faced with a devastating shock after years and years of hearing yes. I told her that by keeping on, and keeping positive, she could demonstrate resiliency, and that was a far more important skill in ballet and in life than getting a Nutcracker part at the age of nine. I told her to visualize herself as a fisherman, and auditions are just like casting a line. Sometimes she'll cast a line, and hook a fish, and sometimes she won't, and she'll have to cast the line again. Three years later, we still use this imagery. It seems to help.

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Thank you all so much for your words of wisdom. She did know there was a good chance she wouldn't get a part, but is still so disappointed. We've been talking about the periwinkle dress as well as using the fishing analogy (thank you!!) and hopefully this will be a great learning opportunity. I've pointed out that she will have much more time for Christmas activities (she and I both love all things christmas) and she's decided to make everyone homemade gifts with the extra time.

One tough thing is that her younger sister will be in a different (smaller, way less fancy) nutcracker, so there will be lots of focus on that. The upside is that her sister's performance won't be overshadowed by her big sister being in the "real" nutcracker.

Thank you all! I so appreciate your advice!

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