11-Year-Old Girl is First Black Lead in Annual NYC Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ History

If we’ve said it once then we’ve said it a thousand times; representation matters. That’s why it is a huge deal that the NYC Ballet chose a black girl to play the lead dancer to portray Marie in the annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. 11-year-old Charlotte Nebres, who is a student at the School of American Ballet, will be making history when she takes the stage this winter.

Charlotte won’t be the only dancer of color in the cast, though, her castmates will also feature Tanner Quirk who is half-Chinese, Sophia Thomopoulos who is half-Korean and half-Greek, and Kai Misra-Stone who is half-South Asian. This diverse cast of impressive dancers is changing the world and showing kids (and adults) everywhere that diversity on stage is a gorgeous thing.


It was four years ago when Misty Copeland made history as the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Her amazing promotion to the center stage proved to the world that skin color shouldn’t be a barrier in the world of art. Kids everywhere looked up to Copeland and dared to imagine themselves in her position, which is what Charlotte did. When she was 6-years-old, Charlotte saw Copeland perform and it was a game-changer.

“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” Charlotte, told the New York Times. “When I saw someone who looked like me on stage, I thought, that’s amazing. She was representing me and all the people like me.”

The incredible show will dazzle audience members as it never fails to do but this year, kids in the audience will have more opportunity to see themselves represented by the talented cast of dancers who make up a diverse range of ethnicity. For information on ticket to the show, which is running now through Jan. 5 at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, check out the NYC Ballet site.

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