11-year-old dances into history as 1st black lead of NYC Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Entertainment

Charlotte Nebres, 11, plays Marie in New York City Ballet’s “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” in New York, Nov. 16, 2019. (Heather Sten/The New York Times via Redux)

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Four years ago, Misty Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history.

Now, an 11-year-old girl is also breaking barriers as the star of the New York City Ballet’s holiday production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.”

In a story first reported by The New York Times, Charlotte Nebres, a student at the School of American Ballet, danced her way into ballet history as New York City Ballet’s first black Marie, the young heroine of a show that dates back to 1954.

PHOTO: Charlotte Nebres, 11, plays Marie in New York City Ballets George Balanchines The Nutcracker, in New York, Nov. 16, 2019.
Charlotte Nebres, 11, plays Marie in New York City Ballet’s “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,” in New York, Nov. 16, 2019.

The annual production also includes a diverse cast of other young leads this season, including 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.

“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing S.A.B., but also representing all of our cultures,” Nebres told “The New York 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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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

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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 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

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Charlotte, who was just 6 years old when Copeland became the first female African American principal at American Ballet Theater, recalled being inspired when she saw Copeland perform for the first time.

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

PHOTO: Six-year-old ballet dancer Charlotte Nebres prepares for auditioning as boys and girls ages 6 to 7 try out for The School of American Ballet Winter Term at the P.S. 124 Yung Wing school in New York, April 16, 2015.
Six-year-old ballet dancer Charlotte Nebres prepares for auditioning as boys and girls ages 6 to 7 try out for The School of American Ballet Winter Term at the P.S. 124 Yung Wing school in New York, April 16, 2015.

Charlotte, whose mother’s family is from Trinidad while her father’s side of the family is from the Philippines, is becoming a trailblazer herself with the role of Marie.

For Charlotte’s mother, Danielle Nebres, the experience for her daughter is a meaningful one, because she was also a dancer growing up.

Nebres, who described Charlotte as quiet and artistic, said, “You don’t know what people are seeing in your child, and they are definitely seeing something in her.”

Although Charlotte is making waves being cast as Marie, the 11-year-old is just enjoying the moment and doing what she loves most: dancing.

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

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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