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Finding Fritz: Academy Dancers Discuss Performing Role

What it’s like to audition for and perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker has been well documented, especially in this fun Justice YouTube series.

But Fritz often flies under the radar.

The brother of Clara, a roguish character, is also performed by a group of young aspiring dancers who take classes in our academy. (We have to have more than one Fritz because of the number of Nutcracker shows. This year, we’ll perform the holiday classic 19 times!)

They rehearse for hours in the weeks leading up to opening night, and they perform alongside our professional company to live music (thanks to the Columbus Symphony) at the Ohio Theatre. Those who dance the role of Fritz also return later in the show as one of Mother Ginger’s children in the Land of the Sweets.

It’s quite an accomplishment, so we sat down with a few of our Fritzes to discuss what it’s like. Here, Anthony, 11, Caleb, 10, and Noah, 10, all share their thoughts on taking the stage. This is their first time performing Fritz, though they’ve all danced in The Nutcracker before.

What do you like most about being Fritz?

Noah: Reacting. And mostly the silly stuff, like being mischievous.

Anthony: I just like making people laugh.

Caleb: Yeah, I like making people laugh. And doing a good job on stage. This is my favorite role.

Are you all doing other roles outside of Fritz this year too?

Noah: I am. I’m in one of the first families who enter the party scene. It’s the same thing I did last year.

What was it like to audition for the role?

Caleb: It was fun. We only did the rat in the audition, where we tease Clara with the rat.

Noah: Yeah, we only did a little bit of the rat. That’s how we get the role. Also, there was a warm-up before the audition.

Were you nervous?

Noah: A little bit. We all had a little bit of experience because we did Nutcracker last year.

How did you feel when you found out you were cast as Fritz?

Anthony: I was in my car when my mom told me. I was so surprised.

Caleb: I screamed. My sister is Clara, and I get to dance with her.

Noah: My friend Constance is Clara, and she’s in my same cast. We were so happy when we found out.

What’s the hardest part about the role?

Caleb: The split jump and the part with Mother Ginger. For the counts, it’s really hard to do. And you have to be flexible to do the split jump.

Anthony: Remembering to smile. When I’m dancing, I’m serious.

Noah: Definitely the split jump because you’re the center of attention in that moment, and if you mess up, everyone’s looking at you. A little bit of the Mother Ginger part, too.

What have rehearsals been like for you?

Anthony: The first rehearsal was chill.

Noah: Now the teachers give us more corrections than they did before.

Anthony: It’s hard to balance all of your dance classes and rehearsals, too.

Caleb: Yeah, and school.

Do you like being in rehearsals with the company?

Caleb: Yes, I love it. The company dancers are really nice. They help us out.

Anthony: I love rehearsals. I want to be a company dancer.

Noah: It’s definitely more intense, but it’s also quite fun. They’re nice people.

Have you told your friends at school about being Fritz?

Noah: I’m humble. In music class, it’s funny because we’re doing Tchaikovsky, so I get to hear Nutcracker music all day. I think some of my class knows.

Caleb: I’m homeschooled. But I have two siblings performing in Nutcracker.

Anthony: I have friends from here that go to my school, so they know I’m doing Fritz. My school has a picture of me in the office.

What are you most nervous about when it comes to performing?

Anthony: Battle scene.

Noah: Yeah, battle scene.

Caleb: Yeah, battle scene with the mouse heads.

What advice would you give to future Fritzes?

Anthony: Focus more in rehearsals with the company. Be on time.

Caleb: Be on time. Make sure to count in family scene and finale. For battle scene, make sure you know what you’re doing. And put your mouse head on tight.

Noah: Don’t be stubborn with the costume fitter. If you are, your pants could fall down or something bad could happen. Also, have fun. If it isn’t fun for you, don’t do it.

Find tickets and more information on BalletMet’s 2023 production of The Nutcracker here.

Photo by Jennifer Zmuda featuring company dancer Carly Wheaton with Anthony Whitaker as Fritz.