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Every year, Nashville locals and visitors gather the whole family, don their most festive attire and take their seats for one of Music City’s most beloved holiday traditions: Nashville’s Nutcracker. But what many may not know is just how much planning and practicing it takes to bring this story to life night after night — and how many children are involved!

Nashville’s Nutcracker features approximately 300 youth cast members from School of Nashville Ballet and the surrounding community dancing alongside the professionals in Nashville Ballet’s Company to an enchanting Tchaikovsky score performed live by the Nashville Symphony. Nashville Ballet’s Director of Artistic Operations Sharyn Mahoney tells us, “Children and their entire families really enjoy being a part of this special performance; it really gets everyone into the holiday spirit and makes this time of year even more magical. It’s also a great way for the kids involved to build confidence and increase their self-esteem.”

nashville nutcracker

The Youth Cast is an inviting and fun way for children to meet each other, show off their moves, and learn a few new ones. Here, Nutcracker hopefuls show off their excitement during auditions.

nashville nutcracker

No prior dancing experience is necessary — come as you are!

Roles range from darling Clara to the adorable bear cavalry and everything in between. Sharyn tells us that returning cast members can experience new roles and meet new people. “Our Company and our School are growing in talent and size, which makes the energy around this annual production fresh and invigorating,” she says. “Not to mention, the entire family can get excited about the additional interactive lobby experiences including carolers, storytimes before performances, professional photos with the ballet’s charming characters and much more.”

Do you have a child who is interested in participating in this special Nashville event? Here’s how children can find their moment in the spotlight as part of the Nashville Nutcracker‘s Youth Cast.

  • Children must be 8 years old by December 31, 2019, in order to audition.
  • Auditions are open to the community and no prior dance experience is required.
  • Children older than age 12 must be students enrolled in School of Nashville Ballet.
  • There are two more open auditions for children: Sunday, August 25 and Sunday, September 8.
  • If you want to skip the registration line, pre-register online here.
  • There is a $10 non-refundable audition fee.
  • Bring a 4-by-6-inch full-body photograph.
  • Children only need to audition once, and each audition day receives equal consideration.
  • Audition results are emailed Wednesday, September 18.
nashville nutcracker

If your child is chosen for Nashville’s Nutcracker, note that mandatory rehearsals begin on October 26, 2019.

nashville nutcracker

A Company dancer will guide the children through their audition, making sure they’re comfortable and excited.

Maybe your kiddos are more comfortable in the audience, and that’s more than welcomed at Nashville’s Nutcracker. The all-ages, two-hour-long performances take place at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) from December 7 through December 23. “No matter how many times an audience member has seen The Nutcracker or a child has been in our Youth Cast, no two experiences are ever the same,” Sharyn adds. “Paul Vasterling, our artistic director, took special care when creating Nashville’s Nutcracker to ensure that the magic never fades — there are so many details that continue to captivate those on stage and in the audience.”

For more information about the Nashville’s Nutcracker Youth Cast, visit their website HERE, email [email protected] or call (615) 297-2966. And if you’re ready to purchase Nashville Ballet tickets, visit nashvilleballet.com

This article is sponsored by Nashville Ballet. All photos by Leila Grossman.