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Clockwise from top: “Ladies, there should be a moment when both your knees are up,” says School of Richmond Ballet director Judy Jacob as the girls practice their cavalry gallops before breaking into small groups for their audition. “You can have a little fun with it, have a little personality with it”; more than 175 students tried out for this year’s Nutcracker; Sayla Mour, No. 152, goes through a warm-up routine before her audition; Jalyn Britton and Kirsten Jones ready to enter the Studio Stage for their tryout; Instructors Judy Jacob, Tara Penick, Susan Massey, Jasmine Grace and Anne Sidney Hetherington assess the steps of girls numbered 151 to 176 at tryouts on Sept. 23. “Do the best you can,” were Jacob’s reassuring words; Norah Walsh fuels up before trying out. She will be an angel in this December’s Nutcracker.
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Clockwise from top: Cast as lambs for the 2011 production, Katelyn Roberts, Anna Chapman, Shirley Li, Isabelle King and Moira Condit-Fox rehearse being afraid of the wolf; faculty member Jasmine Grace takes the 2011 lambs through their steps in an Oct. 30 practice; returning in the role of Clara, Bryanna Krause practices her waltz with instructor Igor Antonov and her prince, Tony Oates.
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Clockwise from top left: One of 2010’s two Claras, Mary Pace Lewis got dusted with a little more blush by Judy Jacob before her performance. This year, Mary Pace will have a role as a Chinese dragon attendant; Jessica Turner adjusted her ears before going onstage in 2010 as one of Mother Ginger’s bunnies; In 2010, Peter Farrow and Clara worked on their pas de deux from Act II one more time before going onstage.
A student role in Richmond Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, which opens Dec. 16 at the Carpenter Theatre, is hard-won. Tryouts are in September, and practices run from October into December, both during the week and on the weekends. More than 140 children, divided into two casts, rehearse under the direction of Judy Jacob, who tells her charges that dance is a combination of the steps and what's inside the dancer: "We also want to see your spirit."