NYC Ballet Casts Its FIRST Black Lead: Charlotte Nebres!

Image: Erin Baiano

It’s 2019 and we’re still learning of many Black “firsts”: the first Black member of the Royal Family, the first Black people to win Academy Awards for costume design and production design, and even the first Black secretary for the Smithsonian Institute. The list doesn’t stop there. As we close out the year and the decade, the New York City Ballet has finally chosen a Black lead for their annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker is a seasonal tradition that has graced many stages since 1954. This year, the New York City Ballet has cast eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres as the ballet’s main character, Marie. Charlotte, whose family is from Trinidad and the Philippines, will be joined by a diverse list of cast-mates including other young dancers with roots in China, Korea, Greece, and South Asia.

When Charlotte was just six years old, Misty Copeland became the first Black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.“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.”

Since then, Charlotte has had the iconic dancer to look up to. Seeing a dancer who looked like her promoted to principal dancer was confirmation that anything would be possible for Charlotte. Upon hearing from her mother that she would