Before an aspiring student from the Flint School of Performing Arts can ever toe the stage of The Whiting, their dreams begin just down the street in classrooms at the Flint Institute of Music.
"They're like little professionals," says Nutcracker Artistic Director Karen Mills Jennings.
Students spend two weeks teaching the students what their audition material will be. But on the day of the audition, no faculty is present. An adjudicator is brought in and based on what she sees over three days of auditions, she determines the casting for the production.
"These children get one opportunity to shine for me," says adjudicator Lesley Bories-Scalise.
By day's end, she has weighed the evidence and made her decision. Eighty-six students have made the cut for this year's performance.