Eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres is the first black girl to star in this year’s rendition of “The Nutcracker,” which has been ongoing since 1954. Nebres, whose mother’s family is from Trinidad and her father’s family is from the Philippines, attends the School of American Ballet.
In addition to Nebres securing a lead role in the ballet, the other young leads are Tanner Quirk (her Prince), who is half-Chinese; Sophia Thomopoulos (Marie), who is half-Korean, half-Greek; and Kai Misra-Stone (Sophia’s Prince), who is half-South Asian.
When Nebres was asked why ballet is important to her, she responded, “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.”
NYC Ballet announced The New York Times story about the children cast on its Instagram account, “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.”⠀
Misty Copeland became the first female African American principal at American Ballet Theater when Nebres was 6 and she remembers. “I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” she 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.”
School of American Ballet, which is the official school of New York City Ballet, is changing with the makeup of students attending. Over the past seven years, 62 S.A.B. students have become City Ballet apprentices; of those, 21 identify as nonwhite or mixed; and of those, 12 refer to themselves as black; four of them are women.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® is one of the most complex theatrical, staged ballets in the Company’s active repertory. The popularity of the ballet is immense and it provides an unforgettable spark to everyone’s holiday season.