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Ballet Talk for Dancers
AnastasiaBeav

Nutcracker 2019

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dancingjet

I still don't think that you need to bring it up. Just to play devil's advocate, what if she isn't thinking about it at all and then you tell her your daughter got an additional special part? Will she wonder why you're telling her? Will she think you're bragging? If she's wondering why your daughter isn't coming out with her daughter this evening then she can ask. Will she wait to see when your daughter leaves, even if her own daughter has already come out? At DD's studio dancers trickled out depending on how long they took in the dressing room, or if they had to stay and ask the teacher something, etc. Parents didn't all wait in the lobby, and they didn't all leave en masse. I honestly think it's better to let all of the casting settle before talking about it. At DD's studio casting was public so everyone knew everyone's parts immediately, and that helped. No secrets, so wondering. It was also a place where people openly congratulated each other, like momof5dancers described. Ultimately, though, you know your friend so I am sure you will do what is best for your friendship. :) Just sharing my own perspective based on my own experiences.

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momof5dancers

Dancingjet

That is interesting that your studio does casting publicly.   Ours are sent out in emails where you only learn your part.  Then the next few days everyone is just asking what did you get?   I could see that having it public would cut down on the secrets, wondering, or bragging.  

 

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dancemaven

So much easier to have a casting list posted.  No down side that I’ve ever seen.  Why be secretive?  It is one thing to send letter/e-mails if there is not a common studio for the production.  But if the studio is mounting the production, just post the cast list on the information board—-along with the rehearsal schedules.

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GingerMama

Thanks for the advice Chibikko, Momof5 and Dancingjet! It’s awkward because we usually hang out together when the girls our at rehearsal and we come back together to get them at the end. They come out together with their group at the end and we hang out for a bit while the girls excitedly talk about rehearsal before we say goodbye or go and get them a snack together nearby which is why it will be odd when my DD doesn't come out so I’ll have to figure it out tonight. Our cast list is public, I had no idea it was sometimes secretive! The problem is this new part for her wasn’t in the initial list and it seems they are making some changes to the casting and production as the rehearsals are going on. 

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dancemaven

“I just want to play baseball”.  Just shrug your shoulders and leave it at “the director just told her she was dancing this part.” 

If you feel you have to give a heads up, just leave it at that: “ Bummer, we will be late for our post-rehearsal get-together because DD has to stay a little longer at rehearsal.”  Any more questions, just shrug and respond along lines of “I just want to play baseball.”  The director is still working the production out, so everyone knows that, yes? 

Do you think it is a big special deal your DD has this additional casting? If not, then this should be easy to not make it a big deal.  If you do, then it will be harder to play it down. 👍

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pirouetteprincess100

As a parent of a professional dancer I will offer my two cents. GingerMama, I too years ago was in the same position you are in. A good friend, who also happened to be a fellow dance mom. Our girls were close friends. Your story could be told in different studios, cities, different characters but ultimately people are the same. Nutcracker has an ability to really mess with otherwise rationale parents. I too experienced the same feeling of not wanting to share good news with this friend. One of my memories( which seems silly now, but really was upsetting at the time) was when casting went up and my dancer had better than expected results. This mom and her dancer were not at the studio at the time but my dancer was. The official posting went up on the school's website later in the day. We were thrilled with the casting, but I was due to lunch with this mom/friend. I was a nervous wreck throughout the lunch, waiting for the other shoe to drop because I knew my friends daughter didn't have anything special. Like you I wasn't sure if I should say something, so I kept my mouth shut.  Sure enough, my friends daughter texted her mom halfway through the lunch and her mother was absoutely furious. Forget saying congratulations to my daughter or me, she was so angry she actually took her daughter out of the production altogether. This is was first of many moments to come over the year regarding casting. One year, the girls were having a slumber party, casting came out the next morning and the mom was so upset over my dancer's casting she came over to pick her daughter up and left in a huff. 

In those days dance seemed to be the activity that our families life revolved around socially. Waiting to pick up at the end of the night, traveling together with other dancers and moms to competition. There were some really good times that came along with it, but in retrospect, it was all very stressful, and at some points some friendships was compromised. I think the same thing can happen in any activity. I have seen the same kind of issues on the soccer field, basketball court etc. 

With my other dancer who is much younger than her sister, I deliberately approached this process differently. I never enter the studio. Strictly drop off and pick up in the parking lot. If I have a question for a teacher of director I email. I honestly treat this exactly the way I treat her academic school. There is much less drama for me through this approach. For sure there are those mom's that hang out and want to be in the know of all studio politics. I don't want to be back in the situation of having to feel bad or apologize for my dancers role in a show, so I have decided to remove myself completely. It's my dancer's activity and not mine.  I do try to be helpful if a mom of younger dancer asks for help about summer intensives.  For example, what was (fill in the blank) summer course like? Where did you audition etc. But I also know how easy it is to get sucked in with these conversations. One thing leads to another. I have trained my dancer to go about this process independently, and to make her own decisions without worrying about everyone else. One lucky thing this go around is none of her friends from school have decided to embark on the dance journey, so she had made friends with some lovely dancers at the studio that she wouldn't have met through her school. 

My now professional dancer looks back on her earlier days and remarks on how silly so many of the mom's behaved while she was growing up. I take blame for being a part of it. The reality is, those dancers that caused so much trouble, all stopped dancing. The one's I know that moved onto professional careers were not the troublemakers. They truly loved dancing. Some dancers only like it when they have important parts and when it doesn't go their way, they quit.

My advice is, support your daughter as much as possible. If the friend and her daughter aren't happy for her do not let if bring you down, which is easier said than done. Usually a mom who is already complaining about her daughter's casting might not be super happy for your daughter.  If you daughter is shining right now, then she should ( and you should too), enjoy every minute. Things can change so quickly. It's really terrible when those good times are tainted by negative and jealous people. Trust me, for every good Nutcracker moment, there was a disappointing one for us down the road. Take time to savor this experience. Good luck!

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AmyMary

Thanks for sharing those experiences. They are valuable. I WISH I could remove myself but unfortunately we live an hour away. If rehearsal is three hours I'm stuck there. I always envy the moms who never come in the studio but they live ten minutes away. I imagine they think I'm the "dance mom" lol but believe me, I don't want to be there!

Anyhow, I told my DD to savor every moment of being Clara this year because it could be the only time in her life she ever gets that part...and of course, to always stay humble.

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dancemaven

Perhaps there is a library or coffee shop you could visit instead.  Or do a little shopping.  :D  

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AmyMary

We do plenty of that too. Sometimes you run out of ideas (and extra money) when you go six days a week 😉

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twinkleandturn

dancemaven-I'm confused by what "I just want to play baseball" means?  Are you saying to just be nonchalant or play dumb (for lack of a better word)?  

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dancemaven

It is a reference to the movie Bull Durham.  Kevin Costner’s older catcher character was assigned to teach Tim Robbins, new dopey pitcher, the ropes of being in the Major Leagues. Costner’s sage advice for talking to the media was to answer all questions with “I just want to play baseball”. Stay away from personal comment, stay away from explaining, stay away from critiquing, criticizing, or getting drawn into assigning blame.  Focus on just wanting to focus on playing the best ball you can.  The only correct response was a variation of “I just want to play baseball”. 
 

It is great advice and comes in very handy for many situations.  (Also was a great movie! 😃)

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AmyMary

Thanks for elaborating. I wasn't sure what it meant either but makes perfect sense now! 

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GingerMama

Thanks so much for the advice DanceMaven and PirouettePrincess! I really appreciate you both sharing your experiences and advice! My daughter thankfully is just enjoying the experience and really loves just dancing. I don’t understand the moms complaining about parts or saying their kids are mad about casting or not getting enough stage time. My feeling is our kids are young and what is there to complain about! I imagine as they get older they feel they deserve a certain part but I really don’t get feeling that way about young kids! It does make interactions tricky. My DD loves her experience participating in Nutcracker which is the only reason I am doing it and I would never feel she should be doing anything but maybe it helps that I know how little I know about dance. Most of the other moms are casual chat when we see each other or text about kid stuff people but this mom is someone we do hang out with away from everything since our kids are so close and we have other things to talk about. Her being a far more intense dance mom type hadn’t been an issue before. She’s the only one I did feel I need to say something about so it wasn’t weird when she heard it elsewhere. She was pretty nonchalant about it so I’m glad it’s done. She wasn’t excited like our family and close friends were when DD wanted to talk about it of course. I get it. I know there’s a different between real friends and more situational friends so it’s fine. I knew she wouldn’t make it weird or go off in a huff. We couldn’t be friends of any sort if she was like that! The director warned me yesterday that once it gets out people will be complaining so I can’t say I’m looking forward to that but I am definitely not getting dragged into it. I know so little about the process I can just shrug pretty easily! Baseball it is!

AmyMary I am in the same boat, our studio is also about an hour away or worse depending on traffic. It’s also not in a great area for other things to do and as you said it adds up! We are there 4 days a week so it’s a lot! Which also makes it harder not to know the moms who are always there too. It was much easier last year but now that we are around so much people want to chat. 

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AmyMary

Yes, as much as I want to remove myself from ballet I just can't when it takes up the majority of my waking hours. I know that I have certainly had some hurt feelings over the years over casting or just plain envy over another dancer's advantages. I think we are all human and want everything for our kids. It takes a lot of work to realize that we can't be self serving all the time. It isn't just about us and the moms who carry on like that are setting terrible examples for young dancers.

In fact I make an effort to praise other girls frequently and encourage them. Life just isn't fair anyway and it is best our kids learn now that the world doesn't always revolve around them.

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TipToes

Congrats to all! Such an exciting time of year. I’m sorry for the people who are dealing with so much negativity around something that should be a positive experience. Makes me so happy to be at our studio where the girls are (almost) all so sweet congratulating and getting excited for the people who get special parts, even when they are jealous. They know enough to realize that the kid who got the part didn’t make that decision, the AD did. Casting is out at our studio as well, and DD is over the moon, because, if they don’t change her costume, she will get to wear a tutu and dance her first pointe role ever.  
 

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