11-year-old makes history as first black lead in NYC Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres will make history as the New York City Ballet’s first black star in its annual holiday production of “The Nutcracker.”

Charlotte, a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City, will play Marie, the young heroine who’s also known as Clara in some productions of the classic holiday show that dates back to 1954, The New York Times reported.

“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing SAB, but also representing all of our cultures,” Charlotte told the Times. “There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, I can do that too.'”

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Charlotte told the newspaper that she gets “to grow up in a time when it wasn’t just like, ‘Oh yeah I can do this, but not do this.’”

“There was nothing holding you back,” she added.

This year’s production of “The Nutcracker” includes a widely diverse cast: among the performers are Tanner Quirk, Marie’s prince in the ballet, who is half-Chinese; Sophia Thomopoulos, the ballet’s second casting of Marie, who is half-Korean and half-Greek; and Kai Misra-Stone, Sophia’s prince, who is half-South Asian, according to the Times.

The New York City ballet shared photos of some of show’s stars from the Times.

 

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IN THE NEWS // The four 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 who the Nutcracker Prince is to him, 11-year-old Kai Misra-Stone (pictured at top right) said, “The Prince is this character that develops. In the beginning, he is Drosselmeier’s nephew and then it’s almost as if he transforms into the Nutcracker and then goes back to being the Prince. He comes out of his shell and just opens up and is like: Here I am.”⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Thirteen-year-old Tanner Quirk (pictured in the foreground), is the oldest of the four, and has also previously played Marie’s bratty brother Fritz in the production. to him, the Nutcracker Prince “is very brave and compassionate especially toward his Marie, which is what I aspire to be like in real life, too.”⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 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 #boysdancetoo #balletdancer #dancelife #balletlife #instaballet #dancers #choreography #balanchine #nycb #nycballet #newyorkcityballet #newyorkcity #linkinbio

A post shared by New York City Ballet (@nycballet) on Dec 1, 2019 at 9:19am PST

 

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

IN THE NEWS // The four 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

A post shared by New York City Ballet (@nycballet) on Dec 1, 2019 at 9:20am PST

Charlotte was just six years old when Misty Copland made history as the first female black principal at the American Ballet Theatre, but she told the Times that she remembered feeling inspired when she saw Copland perform. 

“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” Charlotte said. “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.” 

Charlotte added that she feels “free” and “empowered” when she is dancing, even in a high-profile performance like her new role.

“I feel like I can do anything when I dance. It makes me happy, and I’m going to do what makes me happy,” she told the Times. “You don’t need to think about anything else.”

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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