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Auditions for the 35th Annual Nutcracker will be held in September 2020.

We will be holding Master Classes throughout 2020.  Please come back for details.

nutcracker FAQs

Q: Who is The North Country Ballet Ensemble (NCBE)?
A: Founded in 1986, under founding Artistic Director, Deborah Guibord-Stay, and Artistic Staff Bonnie Black, Alice Schonbek and Kathy Koester. The NCBE is the  Adirondack Coast’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: Adam Sullivan (President), Diane Chase (Treasurer), Keri McAuliffe (Secretary), Krrynne Vincent.

Q: Who is the artistic staff for this season’s Nutcracker?
A: Alice Schonbek is the Artistic Director; Terpsie Toon, Resident Choreographer, Artistic Staff; Associate Artistic Director Kristen Glazer.

Q: How long has The Nutcracker been performed in Plattsburgh?
A: Since 1986.

Q: When will The Nutcracker performances be held in 2019?
A: Plattsburgh, NY: November 29 - December 1. Lake Placid, NY December 7 - 8.

Q: What roles are available for the 2019 The Nutcracker?
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: It depends. Performances such as The Nutcracker have some roles for all ability levels.  Other performances such as Coppelia and Gershwin Melodies have roles for only more advanced abilities. So it really depends what performance you are auditioning.   

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 specific classes 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 for the Nutcracker have been pre-cast: Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, as well as Drosselmeyer and The Nutcracker.

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 in a production.

Q: Are special considerations given to High School Seniors?
A: High School Seniors must audition like all other dancers, 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 programs 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: Audition fees are dependent on which performance. The audition fee for the 2018 The Nutcracker will be $20.

Q: Is there a participation fee?
A: There is a yearly participation dependent upon your age. These participation rates are $100 for children ages 5-9, $200 for children ages 10-12, and $300 for children ages 13-18.

Q: What other potential costs can I expect?
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 specific requirements of the role. 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: An (optional) download of the performance, your tickets to the performances and other personal incidental items that the ballet ensemble doesn’t provide, like ballet slippers or pointe shoes.

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

A: To be at your best in all aspects of your life, you need to be fully committed. NCBE performances are no different. This commitment begins preparing for the audition and continues through the finale bow.

Q:  I am committed. Can you give me some specifics of the commitment to the 2019 The Nutcracker?
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 Au Sable Forks, at either the Jay Community Center or at the Tahawus Cloudsplitter Studio. 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. Except for our Artistic Staff and rehearsal mistresses, NCBE is a volunteer driven organization. If you have some abilities that would like to share with the organization, they would be gladly accepted. 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 can answer that one, but parents and dancers of previous performances will tell you there is an overwhelming sense of wonder and joy when watching or performing on the stage. Most of our dancers return year after year to experience this sense of accomplishment and enjoy the fun and friendships of dancing in NCBE performances.

Q: What if I have additional questions?
A: Please contact NCBE by email:

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Photos by Lisa Keegan, Keegan Photography Design