GCB strives to be inclusive — all ballet dancers, regardless of local studio affiliation, are invited to audition. This includes recent high school graduates, college students, and Nutcracker alumni. This is a community production!

Here is the 2023 Audition Schedule

Here is the 2023 Rehearsal Template

Please register online by Monday, August 21 deadline (scroll to bottom of page).

Nothing is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Rehearsals start Sept 8-10, 2023.

We welcome our 2023 Independent Adjudicator, Elizabeth DeFanti.

In order to understand as fully as possible what it means to be part of this production, please read all information below prior to auditioning. This is especially important for new families, but also recommended for returning families (since policies, fees, and rules may have changed). The FAQ page is also informative — please look through these common questions as well.

Audition Policy

Dancers must attend the age group and audition time according to their exact age on the actual day of auditions.

All dancers must be present for, and fully participate in, the appropriate scheduled audition. If, however, a dancer does not attend the appropriate audition, GCB will follow this protocol:

If the absence is due to illness, injury, or personal matter (considered on a case-by-case basis by the Artistic Director) of a known dancer (i.e. someone who has participated in GCB’s Nutcracker, or who is currently known by one of our choreographers) then the Artistic Director will make every effort to cast the dancer in an appropriate role(s), if available.

If a dancer is not known to GCB or any of its choreographers and is absent for any reason (including being unaware of the audition, illness, injury, or personal matter), then the Artistic Director will cast only lower or mid-level roles best suited for younger or less experienced dancers (i.e. Gingersnap, Little Mice, Angel, Soldier), if available. For casting in roles that require a higher skill level (i.e. pointe or solos), the dancer must be present for the audition (in order to be assessed by the Independent Adjudicator in the context of all dancers at the audition).

Auditions may only be viewed by the casting committee — Artistic Director, Assistant Artistic Director, choreographers for the season, independent adjudicator — plus a videographer (if needed). Staff and board members (many of whom are parents of dancers) do not view auditions.

Video auditions and make-up auditions (due to a dancer’s absence) are not permitted.

Age Requirement and Eligibility
The minimum age to audition is (7) years old — on or before the MCPS kindergarten cut-off date for the current academic school year.

Our production is open to all members of the dance and performing arts community. Therefore, we welcome:

  • Dancers from all local studios
  • High school graduates
  • College students
  • Alumni dancers
  • Community members
Ballet Requirement
It is required that all dancers be enrolled (with any of the local dance studios) specifically in a ballet class — jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, hula, etc. are great, but will not count towards the ballet requirement. GCB will verify current enrollment as a requirement of participation in The Nutcracker. This requirement does not apply to Party Scene adult performers.
Independent Adjudicator
In order to make casting as fair as possible, GCB hires a neutral, unbiased dance professional who is not familiar with our dancers or affiliated with any local studio. This person’s job is to rank and recommend all soloists, including Clara, and determine which dancers should earn a spot in the Snow Corps. The adjudicator is not given any information about any of the dancers (i.e. name, age, studio affiliation) or their past history with GCB (i.e. prior roles, number of years in the production). Typically the adjudicator attends auditions for ages (13) and older.
Adult Auditions for the Party Scene
For more information, click here.
What to Expect
If your dancer is anxious or simply wondering what to expect during auditions, it will be very similar to a ballet class. There will be a number of adults (including members of the casting committee and an independent adjudicator for the oldest groups) sitting at the front of the class watching, while an instructor teaches a skill-appropriate lesson. For identification purposes, each dancer will have an actual number pinned to the front of a leotard (or black/white dance shirt). Auditions are closed to parent viewing.
What to Wear for Auditions and Every Rehearsal
  • Dress for a standard ballet class.
  • No make-up required.
  • Extra clothing (sweaters, skirts, leg warmers, etc.) should not be worn for auditions. Instructors may allow extra layers during rehearsal warm-up period.
  • Solid color leotard (not nude). Pink ballet tights that cover the entire foot. Pink ballet slippers. Bring pointe shoes (if applicable). Hair in neat ballet bun.
  • Male dancers: Solid white or black dance shirt or t-shirt. Black tights. Black or white ballet slippers. Hair off face.
  • Party Scene adults: Comfortable clothes for ballroom dancing; for women, close-fitting tops (with or without sleeves) and leggings are preferred in order to better see movements. Soft-sole jazz shoes or socks for men. Character shoes, soft-sole jazz shoes, or socks for ladies. No street shoes, please.
Performance Dates
Nutcracker performances will be December 15, 16, and 17, 2023. Exact times, and whether Thursday, December 14, is a dress rehearsal or public performance is TBD.
Performance Tuition Fee
Every cast member* is required to pay a $300 non-refundable performance tuition fee which helps cover costs associated with choreography, rehearsals, costuming, alterations, and performing in the Montana Theatre.

Payment Due: The fee is not due until after casting is complete; it will be collected prior to the first rehearsal. You may pay by check or online in the GCB Store. The reason we do not collect any payment upfront is that while we hope to cast every dancer in the ballet, it is not a guarantee that every dancer who auditions will receive a part. Casting will depend on how many dancers audition in each age group and skill level — we have a limited number of costumes and roles.

Late Fee: If payment is not received by October 1, a late fee of $50 will apply.

(*In lieu of the required performance tuition fee, all adults in the Party Scene are kindly asked to make a financial donation that is personally meaningful. Invited performers, professional actors, and guest artists are exempt.)

Optional Fundraisers for Families
GCB organizes optional fundraising programs to help interested families and dancers offset the performance tuition fee cost. There are two programs offered:

Option 1)  Working with local businesses, GCB buys wholesale or discounted product (i.e. coffee, granola) that families resell at retail prices (or slightly higher). The profit from sales offsets part (or all) of your performance tuition fee. Some of our more enthusiastic families volunteer to sell items and donate all proceeds back to GCB — amazing! Note: GCB does not advise unaccompanied dancers selling door-to-door.

Order Form
Total Sales Form

Option 2)  If you secure one (1) brand new donor at the $500 level (or higher), 50% of your fee will be reimbursed. If you secure two (2) brand new donors, each at the $500 level (or higher), 100% of your fee will be reimbursed.

Alert: Please do not solicit any potential donor before checking first with GCB. We want to make sure the person or business you have in mind is not a current donor, or a donor on our “do not contact” list. See Donate for more information and materials.

GCB will make casting decisions based on what is appropriate for each dancer and what is best for the production as a whole — GCB will not cast dancers around their other activities and commitments. See Casting page for more information.
Rehearsal Season
Rehearsals begin the weekend after Labor Day and are held at Ballet Arts Academy (unless otherwise noted). Depending on the role(s), dancers rehearse Friday evenings, Saturdays, and/or Sundays (September through December — including UM Homecoming weekend, MEA/MDAA weekend, and on Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend).

Alert: Each year, we develop a general rehearsal template that may be helpful for auditioning and planning purposes. Families and dancers may use this template to decide whether or not to audition and/or accept the role(s) in which they have been cast. To repeat: GCB will make casting decisions based on what is appropriate for each dancer — GCB will not cast dancers around their other activities and commitments.

2023 Rehearsal Template

Please know that every effort is made to keep rehearsal times consistent during the season, but for many reasons, this is not always possible. Within the general time frame set aside for each variation, exact times and specific dancers called to rehearse may vary week to week. See Schedule for more details.

Attendance Policy
A production of this kind requires excellent attendance from every cast member. Please give careful consideration before auditioning and committing your family to this three-month long season.

  • Attendance will be taken. We appreciate all dancers arriving (5) minutes early to remove shoes, clothes, and be prepared to dance on time.
  • Absences (except for sudden illness or emergency) should be communicated at the very beginning of the season (especially if plane tickets are already purchased and exact dates are known) — but at least one full week in advance to the Artistic Director, Administrative Director, and choreographer. Your absence may indicate cancelling a rehearsal for all dancers in the variation.
  • At the discretion of the Artistic Director, any dancer may be replaced for missing (2) or more rehearsals during the production season — this includes pre-arranged absences and sudden illness or emergency.
  • Please clear all school-related conflicts that may occur during Tech Week in December (i.e. band/choir/orchestra concerts, drama, holiday party, etc.) as soon as possible. Your teachers will appreciate early communication — don’t wait until the last minute to address known conflicts that will occur in December. If you are not comfortable asking for an excused absence from school-related activities which may or may not impact your child’s transcript, please do not audition. GCB provides this form letter to alert teachers and make arrangements in advance: School Absence Request
  • Rehearsals are typically scheduled on UM Homecoming weekend — dancers are not excused to participate in or watch the parade.
  • Rehearsals are typically scheduled on Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. These rehearsals are especially critical if the following week is the start of Tech Week.
  • All rehearsals after Thanksgiving, including Tech Week, are mandatory for the entire cast.
  • All Nutcracker performances are required for the entire cast.

NEW for 2023 — For all roles with assigned understudies — If the primary dancer misses more than (2) scheduled rehearsals, the understudy will be given (1) performance opportunity. Absences beyond that will be discussed between the Artistic Director, Choreographer, and dancer.

Behavior Policy
Generally speaking, we have very few issues with conduct. If, however, an attitude or behavior does not meet GCB’s expectations, this protocol will be followed:
1st instance – The adult immediately involved will speak directly to the dancer and the Artistic Director will be notified.
2nd instance – The Artistic Director will speak to the dancer and a parent will be notified.
3rd instance – If the dancer is not dismissed (from all remaining rehearsals and performances), a parent will be required to chaperone and supervise the dancer for the remainder of the season.
GCB has zero tolerance for bullying. Please let us know if you see, or your dancer experiences, any bullying behavior.
Wellness Policy
GCB has a zero tolerance policy for illegal use or possession of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vaping products. The consequence of breaking this policy may include up to a one-year suspension from Garden City Ballet.
Parent Code of Conduct and Grievance Policy
Thank you for being a good sport and following these guidelines.
Volunteer Requirement
We joke around that parents are forced to volunteer — but, it’s true! Volunteering is required of every family, because otherwise GCB could not afford to produce The Nutcracker. At a minimum, each family needs to sign up for (3) volunteer shifts. See Parent Sign Up for details.
Tech Week
To get a sense of Tech Week — which includes all day Saturday (at Ballet Arts Academy) plus every afternoon/evening (Sunday-Thursday in the Montana Theatre) — please review the example schedule provided. Tech Week is a crucial part of your commitment, and we need all families to be prepared for this exciting and demanding stretch of final rehearsals. After digesting this information, please consider whether the Nutcracker season feels manageable.
2022 Tech Week and Performances
Audition Tips
There is no question this article contains helpful advice — and, we encourage parents and dancers to review it every year — Audition Basics and Pointers for Keeping a Positive Perspective by Nichelle Suzanne (Founder/Editor at Dance Advantage)

Hot tip!
GCB offers a late August workshop (Summer Boot Camp) to help dancers prepare for auditions — these classes are especially helpful for those who have not danced consistently over the summer.

REQUIRED — Ballet Head Shot
Example Head Shot

Please bring a photo to your audition.* It may be in color or b/w, and should be no larger than 3×5″ in size. Ladies should style hair in a neat ballet bun. Gentlemen should have hair out of eyes and off of face. There is no need to hire a professional photographer, though of course you are welcome to do so! Dancers who take part in Summer Boot Camp receive a complimentary digital head shot — you will be responsible, however, for bringing your own printed photo to auditions. Make-up is not required for the photo or auditions. Your photo will be submitted to the casting committee, and will not be returned.

*Adults auditioning for Party Scene are not required to bring a photo.

REQUIRED — Waivers and Agreement
Please bring the following to your audition:
Performance Waiver
COVID-19 Waiver
Performance Agreement
REQUIRED — Thank You Note to Donors
GCB has an audition requirement for all returning Nutcracker dancers — if this is your first audition, this requirement does not apply. Let us know if you have any questions!
Thank You Instructions

Excellent Example Letters From…

Final Audition Checklist

  • Register Online (by Monday, August 21)
  • Attend audition day and time according to exact current age (schedule will be posted online)
  • Arrive (15) minutes early to check in
  • Bring:
    1) Ballet Head Shot (no larger than 3×5″)
    2) Performance Waiver
    3) COVID-19 Waiver
    4) Performance Agreement
    5) Thank You Note to “Missoula Gives” Donor

Alert:  Critical Nutcracker communication takes place regularly via email. Frequently check your Junk folder (Gmail users check your Promotions folder, too!). If you register for auditions and do not start receiving weekly emails when the season begins, let us know.

Questions? Contact