On September 8th, 2018 the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts’ Dance Repertory Company (DRC) will be holding auditions for our 10th biennial production of the classical ballet The Nutcracker. Below are a few frequently asked questions that you mind find helpful if you are thinking about auditioning and the production experience. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call 507-453-5500 or email mca@smumn.edu.

When & Where are Auditions?

Auditions for MCA’s Dance Repertory Company’s are Saturday, Sept. 8th  at MCA’s home the Valencia Arts Center Located at 1164 W. Howard St. (10th), Winona, MN 55987.

New this year we are trying to make it even easier for families by having specific arrival times for each age group, as listed below. The two younger groups can expect to be at auditions for approximately one hour. Older dancers can expect to stay a bit longer depending on the number of students auditioning and levels of experience. Younger/Less experienced dancers as well as adults auditioning for the party scene will be excused first.

5-6 years: 3pm

7-9 years: 3:45pm

10 years: Adults: 4:45pm

Nervous about auditions? Check out our pre-audition workshops happening on Aug. 22nd.

Are there any ways to prepare for auditions?

Thinking of auditioning for MCA’s Dance Repertory Company’s 2018 production of The Nutcracker? Attend a workshop to help you get comfortable in this unique setting, and experience learning a short dance combination in a mock audition while learning both audition fundamentals and etiquette. For advanced dancers, this workshop is an opportunity to get back into the studio prior to audition day.

Nutcracker Audition Workshops

When: August, 22, 2018

Where: MCA’s home the Valencia Arts Center, 1164 W. Howard St., Winona, MN 55987

Fee: Each workshop is only $10

Pre-Audition Nutcracker Workshop Details

Date: Wednesday, Aug. 22
Times & Ages:

  • 5-6 years (no experience- beg, Creative Movement, Boys in Motion, Pre-Ballet & Beg. Ballet students), Time: 5:00-6:00pm, Instructor: Rachael Ryan-Dahlgren
  • 7-10 years (2-3 years experience or less, Ballet I- Ballet III students), Time: 5:30-6:45pm, Instructor: Jess Dienger
  • 11+ years ( 4+ years experience, Ballet IV+ students), Time: 4:00-5:30pm, Instructor: Rachael Nehring

Cost: $10, pre-registration required

More information about Pre-Audition Workshop

How many roles are there?

The number of dancers for certain roles can sometimes vary depending on the dancers that audition and dancer schedules, but in total, there are approximately 40 different  types of roles in our production of The Nutcracker.  Within these roles, there are several with larger groups ranging from 8 to 15 dancers, so there is a possibility of casting up to 100 performers in this year’s production.

At what age can a dancer audition?

Dancers  five years of age an older are invited to audition. However, auditioning does not guarantee casting. For the youngest dancers, we are looking at their ability to follow directions and remain engaged, for their success in the rehearsal and performance process.  Having a young child participate in at least one dance class prior to auditions can greatly improve their success in both the auditions and production process.

Do dancers need ballet experience?

Having some ballet experience is helpful, but not necessary to be involved in the production. Cast members will be required to be enrolled in a dance class to continue to improve their technique, artistry and terminology, ballet is a great option for this class, but for younger students any class is permissible. That said, the principal roles and all roles that are performed en pointe (in pointe shoes) require many years of ballet training. 

Are there speaking parts?

There are no speaking parts in The Nutcracker.  The entire story is told through the music and movement of the dancers.

Are there roles for adults with limited or no dance experience?

There are a number of roles for both male and female adults with limited or no dancing experience. Roles include butlers, maids and party goers. Adults interested in these roles should attend auditions on Sept. 3rd. This group will be seen towards the beginning of the audition process. The production fee will be waived for adult participants and dance class participation is recommended but not required.

Why are performers required to take a dance class in addition?

Taking a dance class, in addition to a weekly rehearsal, allows dancers to spend time learning the language and technique of dance, which will help them in the performances.  Additionally, dancers learn in class how to add personal artistry to their movement, which better helps them to tell the story to an audience that might not be familiar with the story.

The only exception is for college students who are enrolled in a dance class on their campus. 

What should I wear to auditions?

Dancers auditioning should adhere to MCA ballet dress code:

Female attire – pink tights, pink ballet slippers and a black leotard, hair pulled tightly off the face and neck in a bun.

Male attire – white T-shirt, black leggings, tights, or shorts and black or white ballet slippers.

Adhering to this policy promotes safety and injury prevention, allows instructors to view the student’s bodylines and placement to make corrections, and provides a sense of tradition, discipline and respect.

What is the time commitment for dancers in the production?

The time commitment for dancers cast in The Nutcracker varies greatly dependent on age, dance experience level and role(s). The youngest dancers traditionally only have one rehearsal a week until the week or so leading up to the show. Older/more experienced dancers can expect to have multiple rehearsals a week during weekend nights and on the weekends.

Dancers are only allowed one excused absence of a rehearsal per month with written notice. However dancers are not allowed to miss mandatory tech week rehearsals (final week rehearsals).

Each family will be required to meet volunteer requirements or pay an opt. out fee.

Is there a fee to audition?

There is no fee to audition. Dancers who are cast pay a $75 production fee that helps cover costumes, teaching artists and more.  Dancers do not keep or have to purchase any costumes outside shoes, tights and undergarments. MCA is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on volunteers to help keep things affordable for families involved. Families/ older dancers will be asked to help out with our Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party and production or pay $100 a buy-out fee.

Saint Mary’s University Students do not need to pay a production fee and may be eligible to get credit for the production. SMU students must still fulfill volunteer commitments.

What is the story of The Nutcracker ballet?

“The Nutcracker” is performed around the globe during the holiday season. Through this ballet the beauty of the pure, young heart shines bright in a world of dancing dolls, angels, and of course, the wonderful magical Nutcracker Prince. In the dreams of a child named Clara, a battle wages between a band of mice and company of toy soldiers. With Clara’s assistance, the toy soldiers are victorious and grateful. A Nutcracker Prince welcomes her to the Land of Snow, where they dance with the angels, and to the Kingdom of the Sweets hosted by the Sugar Plum Fairy where she sees a beautiful array of ethnic dances such as Spanish Coffee, Chinese Tea, and Russian Baba.

What is the performance schedule & and where are performances?

The Nutcracker is our most intense Dance Repertory Company performance schedule, but it is quite an experience to perform for packed houses at the beautiful Page Theatre on the Saint Mary’s University Campus.

Here is the performance schedule:

Nov. 28, 2018 – 12:30pm Abridged School Group Performance

Nov. 28, 2018 – 6:30pm Abridged Family Show

Nov. 29, 2018 –  6:30pm Full Performance

Nov. 30, 2018 – 6:30pm  Full Performance

Dec. 1, 2018 – 6:30pm Full Performance

Dec. 2, 2018 – 3:00pm Full Performance