North Country Ballet Ensemble
Nutcracker FAQs


Q:        Who is The North Country Ballet Ensemble (NCBE)?

A:        Founded in 1986, NCBE continues to be northern New York’s oldest non-profit ballet company. Our mission is educating, entertaining, and enriching the lives of young people and their communities through the art of dance.

Q:        Who are the NCBE Board Members?

A:        Scott Tuller (President), Wade Northrup (Treasurer), Heather Gottlob, CarrieAnn Germaine, Bonnie Pelerin, Carrie DeChavez, Lynn Fowler, Pamela Griffin, Kim Kneussle, and Beckie Laundry.

Q:        Who is on artistic staff for this season’s Nutcracker?

A:        Alice Schonbek is the Artistic Director, Associate Artistic Director Terpsie Toon and rehearsal mistress Kristen Glazer.

Q:        How long has The Nutcracker been performed in Plattsburgh?

A:        This will be our 31st annual production.

Q:        When will The Nutcracker performances be held this year?

A:        There will be four performances at Hartman Theatre on the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh – Friday, November 27 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, November 28 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 29 at 2 p.m. There will also be three performances in Lake Placid at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Saturday, December 5 at 2 p.m, on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m.,  and Sunday, December 6 at 1:00 p.m.

Q:        What roles are available?

A:        The Nutcracker has roles available for all ability levels. Many roles, such as those in the Snow scene or in the Divertissements in ACT II require a certain level of technical ability and can be auditioned for only by dancers meeting these requirements. However, roles in the Party scene, mice and soldiers in the Battle scene, angels, and some divertissements in ACT II, such as Mother Ginger’s children, can be auditioned for by all ability levels.

Q:        If I audition will I actually get a performing role?

A:        All who audition, and meet the requirements posted at the time of the audition, such as paperwork, fees, attendance at meetings, etc., will be cast in a role.

Q:        Do the number of dance classes taken per week guarantee me a specific role?

A:        No. There will always be someone who may naturally have the ability or talent or on-stage personality for the role being cast. There is no guarantee of a role based on the number of classes you take or the ballet level you are in. This is a very important point to understand, especially for dancers in Middle School and above.

Q.        Why then do I have to take a certain number of classes when I’m cast in a role?

A.        The more classes you take, the more likely it is that your technical ability improves over the years. The Artistic Director can require dancers, once cast in a role, to take specificclasses to build endurance and technique for that role.

Q.        How are roles cast?

A.        The Artistic Director makes the final casting. Factors that go into the final casting include both artistic and non-artistic considerations such as a dancer’s audition performance, costume requirements, demonstrated work ethic, past performing experience, physical ability, production needs, role aspirations, teamwork and leadership.

Q.        Are roles pre-cast?

A.        Sometimes they are. When this occurs, the roles (but not the dancer) are posted on the information board prior to audition. This year our principal dancer roles have been pre-cast: Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

Q.        Do dancers have a choice in the role offered to them?

A.        No. The Audition Form allows you to choose how many roles you wish to be considered for, not which one’s you’ll accept. A dancer must accept all roles cast if they wish to be inThe Nutcracker production.

Q.        Are special considerations given to High School Seniors?

A.        No. High School Seniors must audition like all other dancers desiring to be cast in The Nutcracker, and depending on the individual dancer’s technical ability and audition, there might not be a featured role available. However, all seniors will have their photo and short biography in The Nutcracker program as well as in the theater lobby. Seniors also will be given special recognition, such as being able to choose whom they sit next to in the dressing room.

Q.        Who else has their name and photo in the program and in the theater lobby?

A.        NCBE will highlight our guest principal dancers with this special honor. However, all dancers in grades 9-11, along with Claire/Fritz dancers, will have their names and short biography on a board in the lobby.

Q:        How much does it cost to audition?

A:        There is a $20 audition fee and a $65 participation fee due at audition time. This fee covers the cost of audition materials, rehearsal time, choreographic fees, lighting design and set up, stage contracts, costumes, cleaning and storage, as well as providing your dancer with the opportunity to perform with a regional non-profit ballet company. Dancers performing in only the Lake Placid shows will pay a reduced participation fee of $40. If a dancer does not accept a role in the Nutcracker production, the participation fee will be refunded. Once rehearsals begin, the entire fee is non-refundable.

Q:        What other costs am I looking at over the fall rehearsal months?

A:        You will have to pay for your own tights, shoes, and leotards – the number varies depending on the role(s) your dancer is cast in and the role’s specific requirements. For most performers, this will average about $35. Dancer en pointe will need at least two pairs of pointe shoes.

Q:        Are there any optional costs which I may incur?

A:        Yes. These include (if you so choose) professional photographs (about $22 per role), DVD of the performance ($15-20), your tickets to the performances ($15-$20 per performance), rehearsal mistress gift donation ($5), and post-theater celebration ($5-7 per person, $30 max per family).

            We encourage all families to also become members of NCBE ($25 membership donation, and up) to show your public support for dance in the North Country.

Q:    What kind of commitment is going to be required for the dancer and the dancer’s family?

A:        For the dancer, the time commitment is at least an hour (for one role) to several hours on the weekends.  Rehearsals are held on Saturdays and Sundays in Jay Community Center, Ausable Forks and Lake Placid Center for the Arts,  Lake Pacid.  The schedule is always posted here on the website.

            For the family, the commitment will be making sure your dancer can make their assigned rehearsals. We also expect that you will volunteer your time in some capacity to assist the company in putting on the production. Except for our Artistic Staff and rehearsal mistresses, NCBE is a volunteer driven organization. We depend on you to make the production work.

           The week of Thanksgiving is especially important since this is when we have technical and dress rehearsals at Hartman Theater and The Nutcracker performances begin. Usually this requires at least one parent to free up their schedule to devote to this endeavor.

Q:        Wow, it sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth it?

A:        Only you and your dancer can answer that one, but parents of previous Nutcrackerperformers will tell you there is an overwhelming sense of wonder and joy when watching their son or daughter performing on the stage. The dancers love it too, whether age 5 or age 55! Most of our dancers return year after year to experience this sense of accomplishment and enjoy the fun and friendships of dancing in The Nutcracker.

Q:        What if I have additional questions?

A:        Please call NCBE President Scott Tuller at 518-524-2187 or e-mail him at