Every year, the South Shore Symphony Orchestra conducts its version of the Nutcracker ballet. Hundreds of dancers from all over Long Island, as well as from some of the most prestigious dance schools in the city, flock to Leggz Ltd. in Rockville Centre to audition for a spot in the show.
This year proved to be no different.
More than 250 dancers auditioned with the hopes of landing one of the 100 spots in this year's December performances, and Artistic Director Joan MacNaughton said she knows what she's looking for in a dancer.
"I look for desire and energy," MacNaughton said. "We want people who are focused, have stage presence and personality."
The ballet, which has been performed in the village every year since 1995, is a staple of the community, and MacNaughton said she thinks she knows why. "What they really love is the full length ballet," she explained. "It tells the story from beginning to end."
Diana Quijano-Graham was one of the talent judges at the audition and said there were a few things she hopes to see in those trying out. "We need to see technique," she said. "I look at their faces and can see who will add to the performance. We need personality."
Charlene Brew, 13, led the auditions for MacNaughton and has performed in the ballet for eight years. She is currently on a full scholarship at the Alvin Ailey Dance School in Manhattan. Brew said she's studied ballet for nearly a decade, and when MacNaughton asked for a hand with auditions, she couldn't turn it down. "I wanted to help," she said. "It's just a great opportunity for me."
The final cut for dancers will be made on Aug. 17. The show will held at South Side High School from Dec. 5-7.