How Can My Child Get a Role in 'The Nutcracker?'

What the Judges Are Looking For

Ballet Dancers Practicing the Nutcracker Ballet
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Dancing in "The Nutcracker" is a dream of many young children. The kid-friendly ballet offers several roles for kids, including both dancing and acting parts. If your child would like to audition for a role, do a little research around your community. Find out which local companies or studios (if any) will be presenting a performance. Large ballet companies will sometimes hold "open auditions," or auditions that are open to the public as opposed to company members only. With so many young roles to fill, ballet companies almost always hold open auditions for young children.

How can you make sure your child gets a part? Many factors are involved in the selection process, but the most important of all is size. Most of the children must be small, with a few exceptions. Judges will be looking for kids who will fit into previous costumes, as well as who have a nice stage presence. For some of the roles, the children must be good dancers. During the audition, the children will probably be asked to perform a few steps of a routine. The judges will watch the children closely, noting the ones who can jump the highest, stretch the farthest, and so on. They will also be asked to act in certain situations, possibly happy, sad, excited or angry. (The children who exhibit the best acting ability will almost always win parts. Before the audition, have your child practice making faces and acting out certain emotions.)

Once a cast is chosen, there are usually about six to eight weeks of rehearsals, with performances beginning in early or mid-December. Children are expected to attend all scheduled rehearsals. Keep in mind that being part of "The Nutcracker" cast is a huge commitment, but also an extraordinary opportunity for children to experience a live, staged performance.