Behind the Scenes with The Nutcracker auditions

Lisa Condit spoke with The Hanover Theatre Conservatory’s new dance director, Jennifer Agbay, about this weekend’s “Nutcracker” auditions. You may recognize Jen’s vivacious personality and talent from her work with Ballet Arts Worcester, which is in the process of merging with our conservatory. Read on for highlights from the September 2 WCRN interview, or listen to the full interview below.

Lisa: You have such a rich history with us, and of course we have auditions for “The Nutcracker” coming up very soon (Saturday, September 9, appointment required).

Jen: Last year we had a whopping number of 200 dancers come to auditions! Kuddos for all those kids.


Lisa: This is very professional and broken down into different time frames for different ages and levels. My daughter auditioned long ago and it was a wonderful experience, and I was blown away by the professionalism of the whole process. It was a healthy experience and a great preparation for any dancer.

Jen: We give them a ballet class first and check out their skills. After that, we actually have a callback process, and those dancers we call back, we actually teach them choreography from the performance, and the choreography is not easy. We are challenging them, and we’re trying to see who can really bring their talent to the forefront. We take four hours out of the day to cast the show, and we have two casts. Once that puzzle is all into place, on Wednesday the button is pressed, “Send,” and the cast list goes out. And then the hype and excitement begin.

It’s exciting to see that these kids are from the community. This is a communal event. It’s not just a conservatory or Ballet Arts Worcester event. We have people coming from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Boston. It stretches.

Lisa: And you kick off the holidays Thanksgiving Weekend.

Jen: It’s so wonderful to hear the whispers of so many people saying, “This is what we do every year now. We come here with our family. This is our ‘Nutcracker.’”


What is your favorite holiday show?