11-year-old ballerina is first black lead in New York City Ballet’s production of ‘The Nutcracker’

For the first time in 65 years, the New York City Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" has cast a black dancer to play Marie.

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Charlotte Nebres, an 11-year-old ballerina who is a student at the School of American Ballet, will star in this year's production, which debuted in 1954, The New York Times reported.

Nebres’ father’s family is from the Philippines, while her mother’s family hails from Trinidad, the newspaper reported.

"It (role) is (a big deal)," Charlotte told the Times after a recent rehearsal. "But to me, it's just how I grew up, so it's not really different to me."

The cast of this year’s “Nutcracker” will represent a diverse mix, the newspaper reported.

Nebres’ Prince, Tanner Quirk, is half-Chinese. Sophia Thomopoulos, who will also play Marie (all children are double cast in the production), is half-Korean, half-Greek. Sophia’s Prince will be played by Kai Misra-Stone, who is half-South Asian.

Charlotte's mother, Danielle Nebres, was also a dancer while she was growing up. She told the Times she was surprised when her daughter came out of the audition and said she had won the lead role.

“With that poker face of hers, she said, ‘Well, I’m Marie,’” Danielle Nebres told the newspaper. “And I just thought, ‘Oh my goodness — they really did it.’ I couldn’t believe it.


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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Charlotte was surprised to learn she was the first black to win the role, her mother said.

"(She said) wow. That seems a little late," Danielle Nebres told the Times.

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