Every December, the New York City Ballet puts on their rendition of The Nutcracker, you know the story about a nutcracker that leads the toy soldiers into a battle with mice. And with the help of Marie, he helps defeat the Mouse King, which ends up breaking an ancient spell that turns the nutcracker into a prince.
While this year the story is exactly the same, the ballet company is still making history. See, for the first time in their company’s history, the lead will be played by a Black ballerina.
Meet Charlotte Nebres, the 11-year-old dancer who is gracefully stepping into Misty Copeland’s footsteps and hopefully her legacy. Not surprisingly, the pre-teen told the New York Times that Copeland inspired her to become a ballerina.
“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” Charlotte gushed to the Times.
“When I saw someone who looked like me onstage, I thought, that’s amazing. She was representing me and all the people like me.”
See, that right there is the power of representation. In order to be, there are times when you need to see it.
Nebres, who is Trinidadian and Filipino, will be alternating the role with another dancer, which is standard each year. Even her counterpart is a girl of color: Sophia Thomopoulos (Marie) is is half-Korean, half-Greek, while Kai Misra-Stone (Sophia’s Prince) is half-South Asian.
Charlotte’s mother Danielle told the Times that Charlotte had “a poker face,” when she walked out of the audition.
“With that poker face of hers, she said, ‘Well, I’m Marie,’ And I just thought, oh my goodness — they really did it. I couldn’t believe it.”
When Danielle told her daughter that she was the first Black girl to play Marie, her response was, “Wow. That seems a little late.”
You better tell it!
While the pressure to be the first is always there, Charlotte brings herself back to her love of dance and why she’s out there on the stage in the first place.
“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 New York Times.
“It makes me happy, and I’m going to do what makes me happy.”
Love it! Congrats Charlotte!!!
BEAUTIES: If you’re in NYC, the New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker will run through January 5. Purchase tickets here.