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

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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.

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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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