BLACK VOICES

11-Year-Old Becomes First Black Marie In New York City Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

Charlotte Nebres has made dancing history in a cherished holiday tradition.
Tanner Quirk and Charlotte Nebres dance in the New York City Ballet's "The Nutcracker."
Tanner Quirk and Charlotte Nebres dance in the New York City Ballet's "The Nutcracker."

Young ballerina Charlotte Nebres has made history this holiday season.

The 11-year-old became the first Black dancer cast in the leading role of Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.” The ballet company premiered this annual event in 1954. 

Charlotte, a student at the School of American Ballet in New York City, is one of two dancers alternating the role of Marie. Two other young performers are alternating as the Nutcracker Prince. The New York Times noted that child dancers are typically double cast.

“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing [the School of American Ballet] but also representing all of our cultures,” Charlotte told The New York Times in an article published Thursday. “There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’” 

The four young leads cast in “The Nutcracker” this year make up a diverse group, the Times reported. Besides Charlotte, there is Tanner Quirk, her prince, who is half-Chinese. Sophia Thomopoulos, who is half-Korean and half-Greek, is the other Marie. Kai Misra-Stone, who is half-South Asian, is cast as Sophia’s prince. 

Charlotte told the Times that she is inspired by Misty Copeland, who became the first Black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in 2015. Earlier this week, Copeland shared a photo of Charlotte on her Instagram account 

The “Nutcracker” production kicked off last week and continues in New York City until Jan. 5. 

Charlotte told the Times that she feels like she can “do anything when I dance.”

“To me, it just feels like when I dance, I feel free and I feel empowered,” she said.

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