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Rejections and Frustration


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My DD13 was not chosen for Clara this year. It is a great disappointment for her (me also) as this was her year (so we thought) all of her friend and many of the parents were shocked. I am proud of how she publicly handled it but feel the school is leaving a massive negative hole in her. She stated at home that she didn't get it because she wasn't good enough. That she will just dance in the back ground. I know this is not what she wants. She is a strong dancer, who has been offered scholarships to summer intensives, overcoming back issues, constantly strives to be the best.


The schools/ dance program is showing a more political side recently, including those parents who can volunteer more or give more money's daughters getting the roles. Not saying this hasn't been the case in the past, but it is now affecting my daughters belief in herself and her opportunities.


Do I say anything? What would/ could I say? or do I look else where?


Ready to cry from frustration.

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  • Mousling


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Claras are chosen for so many reasons. It is not always (though can be) the best dancers who get that role. There is a whole thread about this elsewhere which has some interesting converations about what dancing Clara (or not) means for a dancer's future (spoiler: not much effect either way.)


Not being cast for a role one (or one's mom or the entire studio) believes should be hers is just one part of the process of becoming a dancer. Not a fun one especially the first time, but she needs you to remind her that her worth as a person and as a dancer is not intrinsically tied to any role.

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Thanks Mousling. I refused to let her get down on herself and reminded her of the SI scholarships, the other roles she has done, that she has a great stage presences, plus her fighting constantly her back (Double S Scoliosis). As to why she is upset, this school seems to have a progression, Clara, then the better roles in the future (Snow fairy, Sugar Plum, etc.). I hope you are right, I just feel that I may be holding her back by staying, versus looking else where. She already stated she will not leave before Nutcracker, holding up her responsibility to the studio.

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Handling rejection is an integral part of life, let alone the ballet world.


Learning to dance in the corps is also of vital importance, especially as a dancer gets older. It doesn't mean you are a bad dancer! I don't think it is often that a young professional dancer is hired to be in anything other than the corps. All these principal dancers at all these major companies started somewhere- in the corps! They need to learn this skill and know how to do it well.


This was something my dd has commented on a few times. There is someone she dances with who has had lead roles in one way or another for many years (either the lead in a small or larger corps or an actual soloist or principal level part). That dancer did not understand how to dance in the corps when she finally had a corps part. Dd noticed the same phenomenon with some of the dancers at an SI. These were young fabulous dancers, some dd had been familiar with prior to her arrival thanks to Youtube. But, these girls, used to having the special part or just learning variations for Grand Prix, do not understand the nuances of matching your movement to those around you, etc.


Actually, Ms. Clara76 said it best

Every role needs to be a "dream role"! Any time we are lucky enough to be cast in any role on stage is a special thing. Not every human being gets to experience becoming another character and bringing joy to an audience, so it needs to be understood that every role is important, and we must make the best of whatever comes our way.

In the "real world" jobs, promotions, dates, life in general doesn't always work out the way we "dreamed" it would be.....We have to learn to appreciate the job/paycheck that goes with it, the partner we have, and the precious little time we have to participate in life.


I do not feel not getting cast in a role is a reason to leave a school. That said, if there are other factors that you are concerned about, it doesn't hurt to know what else is out there. Maybe this isn't the best fit for your dd, but searching for a school where she will always be the star and always be the best isn't going to help her grow as a dancer either. (I know you did not say that.. but there are elements in your post that imply that).

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MelissaGA- Thanks.

She has been in the Corps her whole learning life. She is an excellent dancer in the corps and can dance with anyone,


She is disappointed but she got right back up and auditioned the next day.


I don't expect her to be the star in all (but this just felt like the time). It came across that was me thinking of taking her from here because of not getting the role, not the case. In this school, as with many, favoritism leaves little time/ energy given to others. Not sure what to do. Stay on and hope that her time to shine comes or find another option.

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Aside from understanding how hard it can be on any student not to be cast in a role they hoped for and the value of lessons learned from that, I would suggest paying more attention to whether the training she is getting at her school is helping her develop and progress. You can usually use summer intensive auditions as somewhat of a gage for that, or objective faculty assessments while she is at a summer program. That should be the key to whether you stay at a school, in my opinion. It also takes a little more time on your part to assess. If politics are just consistently blocking your dd from getting any of the attention she needs in class, then that is a problem. But if she is in the Nutcracker at all, while still getting excellent training (without rehearsal time as a substitution for classes), she will be experiencing performing and get something out of it. And performing is important - almost any performing. She can make the most out of any role. Once you read the other threads on the subject of Clara casting, you can see confirmation that many once cast as Clara didn't maintain any particular stellar ascent or necessarily even keep dancing. There are so many reasons for casting Clara, as Mousling said.

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I understand so much as a fellow mom (see previous response from me).


From the other side though, if a dancer is unhappy with a role, there are two acceptable courses of action:

1) Accept the role, knowing it is not what you want. Determine to perform it exceptionally. Never put your dissatisfaction on public display or complain (except to your safe place - probably just mom).


2) Decline the role (and be willing to accept those consequence as well, if there are any, including sitting out from a future production if required or looking for a place that is a better fit that meets your values or goals.).


The worst is when a dancer takes a role and makes it very clear how unhappy she is.


Good luck! :)

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My DD will accept any role and portray it to her best abilities. She has a strong work ethic and believes in living up to her commitment to this dance school/ company. She has been performing since se was 5 in recitals and nutcrackers/ spring story ballets since she was 6.

I think what is hard for both her and I to understand, is prior to this situation she has been cast for all 4 shows (when others her age were cast for 2). Always has a stage presence that others comment about to both her and I. Beautiful dancer, and so on.


We both know that she will always have things to work on, this just doesn't make sense to her or I. She is discouraged, that she will continue to be looked over "now" for something that is not being verbalized to her.


I advised her to speak with the director and her direct teacher for exact reasons and how to correct them. If they can't give her this, then maybe it is time to look else where. Plus we are discussing a short Winter Intensive (that gives critiques) to help her zone in on her weaknesses.

Thank you for your thoughts, getting this in the open helps clearly see through the red.

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My advice is to give it at least 10 days before you discuss it with the director. You will be glad you did...I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There isn't a parent on this board that hasn't felt your pain...and walked in your shoes. It is painful. It sounds as she is handling it well. You will feel better (not healed but better) in a week. Then decide if you(or she) should speak with the director.


I know that you feel physically ill... and I am so sorry. If you feel that her training has been good...don't change because of a cast list. Good ballet training is hard to find!

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I love all the comments here because our Nut auditions are coming up soon and I will begin to prepare my DD for the inevitable. AWJMom, I know exactly how you feel as this happened to DD last year. In dealing with those casting disappointments, I also looked to this board for answers and am deeply appreciative of all the responses. One particular poster who happened to also be an AD working with Nut casting posted that there are other dancing roles besides Clara that require very strong dancers and sometimes Clara (in certain Nut productions) is not a particularly demanding dancing role. That AD wanted the best dancers for all the roles, not just Clara. That post really resonated with me because while my daughter did not get cast for Clara, she did get another very strong role in the premier cast and was able to dance alongside a principal male dancer who has won several international competitions (giddy, huge crush on this dancer :wub: ). The "unwanted" role that she got drew her closer to her fellow dancers that had the same role. There were many hidden benefits and life lessons learned from keeping that role, holding her head high, being gracious and wishing other dancers , and when it was her time to shine, rocking it out onstage!

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Thanks to all for your thoughts and experiences. I agree with or see the truth in each one. For our school and her age/ size/ etc, Clara is the desired role. Older students get the other desired roles. DD will know tonight or tomorrow which role she will dance. She has handled this very well, and she will speak with the AD and her lead teacher on her correction needs in the coming week. Time will tell what is right for us.

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AWJMom, did they cast Clara and not reveal the rest of the cast list? I think that would make it doubly hard, knowing that you didn't get that part but not actually knowing what you did get!


It sounds as if she has had a great deal of success as a dancer. Keep encouraging her to keep her eye on the prize, which is not casting but continually working to improve, as she has done before. I think it is a Baryshnikov quote.. "I try not to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."

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MelissaGA, They cast for the major roles (watch during class) before auditions for battle scene and party scene, and for the younger groups ginger breads. It was very hard to hard to find out she didn't get Clara and having to audition the next day.


She is defiantly a strong young lady in both dance and personally. She said she is going to keep her eyes and ears open, ask for feed back, and see if she gets it.

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Do most of your dd's schools perform a Nutcracker where Clara dances a lot? Many of the Nutcrackers i have seen don't have Clara really dancing much throughout the show. Our new studio has Clara doing A LOT more than what I thought was traditional in that role. So only our one highest level (very good) girl gets cast as Clara. My dd would never have had a chance - she's just too tall. They've only posted some of the cast and she has Snow and Spanish so far. Still holding out hope for Arabian.

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