NYC Ballet Casts Its First Black Dancer to Play the Lead in The Nutcracker

Illustration for article titled NYC Ballet Casts Its First Black Dancer to Play the Lead in iThe Nutcracker/i
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At last, the New York City Ballet has cast a black dancer to play the lead role in their holiday production of The Nutcracker. In fact, it sounds like the show will be a lot more diverse than it has been in previous years, which, considering ballet’s historically overwhelming whiteness, is a real breath of fresh air.


The Associated Press reports that 11-year-old Charlotte Nebres will play Marie (also called Clara, depending on what version of The Nutcracker you’re familiar with), the young girl who is gifted with a wooden nutcracker on Christmas Eve and ends up transported into his magical and occasionally terrifying (THE MOUSE KING!) world.

Nebres currently studies at the School of American Ballet in New York. She told the New York Times last week that she considers barrier-breaking Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theater’s first black principal dancer, her inspiration.


“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” Nebres said. “When I saw someone who looked like me onstage, I thought, that’s amazing. She was representing me and all the people like me.”

In addition to Nebres, the cast includes Tanner Quirk, who is half-Chinese; Sophia Thomopoulos, who is half-Korean, half-Greek, and Kai Misra-Stone, who is half-South Asian.


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This is a quite a weight of identity and history to be placed on an 11 year old girl’s shoulders. Sometimes a girl just wants to take flight without any of the baggage. The line up gives me hope that someday no little human of color has to be under this kind of pressure and they can just be. Hopefully the rest of ballet world continues to change, otherwise this is just another self congratulatory “we are so woke now media blitz.