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.

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IN THE NEWS // The four School of American Ballet @sab_nyc children who alternate the roles of Marie and the Nutcracker Prince were recently profiled in The New York Times by Gia Kourlas. She sat down with them to discuss the rehearsal process, their lives off-stage, and their roles in the ballet.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ When asked about why ballet is important to her now, in this moment, 11 year-old Charlotte Nebres, pictured here in rehearsal for her role as Marie, said:⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "To me, it just feels like when I dance I feel free and I feel empowered. I feel like I can do anything when I dance. It makes me happy, and I’m going to do what makes me happy. You don’t need to think about anything else."⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Photo: Heather Sten @heathersten for The New York Times @nytimes⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ See these very young dancers, who are the heart of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, now on stage through JAN 5. Tap the link in bio for tickets and more information.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #nutcracker #nycbnutcracker #thenutcracker #nutcrackerballet #holidayseason #georgebalanchinesthenutcracker #ballet #dance #balletdancer #dancelife #balletlife #instaballet #dancers #choreography #balanchine #nycb #nycballet #newyorkcityballet #newyorkcity #linkinbio #schoolofamericanballet

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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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