This 11-Year-Old Is the First African-American to Dance the Lead Role in “The Nutcracker”

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Charlotte Nebres was only six when acclaimed dancer Misty Copeland became American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal. Now Nebres is making dance history too! The 11-year-old was recently cast as the first African-American Marie in New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

Nebres, who is a student at the School of American Ballet, is part of a larger cultural shift going on at the New York City Ballet. Not only is the 11-year-old breaking barriers, but the Ballet has also cast half-Chinese Tanner Quirk as Marie’s Prince, half-Korean/half-Greek Sophia Thomopoulos as the other Marie (the children’s roles are double-cast) and half-South Asian Kai Misra-Stone as the other Prince.

The young dancer recently spoke to the New York Times, talking about the first time she saw Copland perform, “When I saw someone who looked like me onstage, I thought, that’s amazing. She was representing me and all the people like me.”

Charlotte’s mother opened up to the New York Times, about her daughter’s reaction after the audition, “With that poker face of hers, she said, ‘Well, I’m Marie,’ And I just thought, oh my goodness— they really did it. I couldn’t believe it.”

Ms. Nebres also talked about her daughter’s response to finding out that she is the first African-American child cast in the role of Marie. According to the proud mom, the 11-year-old said, “Wow. That seems a little late.”

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: New York City Ballet via Instagram 

 

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