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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker Casting

Lady Elle

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Thought i would start one here since my dd is 13. So, we are at a very small school - well, its a bit new i think about 5-6 yrs. Lots of young kids, not so many upper level but great teaching. anyway, since it is small, dd got cast a lot! its really her first Nut - she filled in for girl who dropped in Snow last year but this is the first year that she's really fully attending this studio. She got Spanish, Rat Queen, Harlequin, Snow and Flowers. She was hoping for Arabian but since shes cast for both shows in Spanish, she cant do Arabian. Anyway - she's excited!

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Our ballet company has been around over 30 years, so it is well established. Artists in residence and guest artists generally have principal roles like Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen, although company girls might be cast as understudy. They are often cast to dance the principal/solo roles in our school performances. Our Nut is performed 17 times, including school performances, general performances, and a weekend tour performance. This year the weekend tour performance will be accompanied by a full orchestra! This is DD's first year as a full company member. She was cast in snow, flowers, Chinese, regiment, and Russian. Final casting isn't posted until right before the shows begin, so all company members may attend all rehearsals and essentially audition for a role that is not in their original casting. They learn the role, and if they do well at it, they might get to perform it at some point. DD plans to attend all rehearsals and learn all of the roles. She really wants to be a Harlequin doll (dream role). Company roles (second act) are full on dancing. The choreography is hard, and the shows are rather amazing. Our pre company kids (younger) are automatically cast, but anyone who wants a party girl/boy role or Clara must audition for those roles. The pre company kids are usually cast as angels, soldiers, and sometimes regiment. We also hold open auditions for demi characters and other roles like ginger kids, rats, etc.

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Our company is a community-based non-profit using kids from 25+ ballet schools from a large geographic area. All students who audition are cast, but the dancers are scored by a panel of judges and casting is based mostly on these scores. Male principal roles are paid, but female principal roles can go to anyone who scores well enough. Adult character roles are filled by dancing community members. The more difficult dancing roles are filled by the auditioning students or students from one of the local universities (the two largest universities here have excellent ballet programs). This year DS (13) was cast as King's Mouse and Chinese Dragon and DD (16) was cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy! DD is very excited to perform the "Grand Pas" and famous variation. This is her first year receiving this part and she is thrilled, especially since she is happy to have a new challenge (she danced Snow Queen for two years). She has also seen four of the previous Sugar Plum Fairies from recent years go on to dance professionally, so it gives her a morale boost and some good motivation. It is a fabulous production that gives the students a wonderful performance opportunity. The community aspect of the company is unique and has its joys and challenges.

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JMM - thats is very cool! What a great way to do Nutcracker - with students from a variety of studios/universities. (Although the panel of judges sound scary!!)

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Too tall for snow queen but she's in snow corps? Ours is a bit strange because clara goes to the highest level dancer (we really only have one who is reall very good) and she's 15 (and might be close to 5'8") but she also is sugar plum! so its very different. We only have about 3 higher level dancers, and the rest are working at getting there! it will be much better when the little ones move into the upper levels - hopefully there will be plenty that want to commit themselves to ballet. i think thats one thing in my area - the kids usually do many many different activities so getting them to just put their all into ballet is not very popular. I'm also in a bit academic community so many parents want their child in classical ballet, along with piano or violin, some language (even as a small child), many do kumon or other academic enrichment after school program, then soccer, baseball... Busy busy busy!


my dd is very tall too (probably why rat queen ) so clara of course is a bit out of the question. We have a few hired men come in from another company.

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As I mentioned in my post for younger DD (under 13 board), our traditional Nutcracker is performed by our studio affiliated (small, local) performing company. It is pretty much all dancers or former dancers from our studio (with the exception of a couple of dancers' dads who step in for party scene...)


I also have a 15 yr old DD and she was thrilled with the parts she was cast for. She is the bear (party scene), snow corps and candy cane soloist (Russian dance). Snow is her first Nutcracker performance en pointe and roughly half of the dancers are teens while the rest are adults from our studio.

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Oh, Drivingtodance - didn't think about a snow King! That makes sense. yes, my dd is just over 5'9"... And she's hoping to be a professional dancer at some point - eek!

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