At just 11 years old, Charlotte Nebres has made history.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker opened Friday (Nov 29) at New York City Ballet, and for the first time in history, a Black girl will be playing the young heroine, Marie.
Charlotte Nebres was cast in the famous production which dates back to 1954.
Charlotte was only six years old when Misty Copeland became the first female African-American principal at American Ballet Theater and recalls being inspired by seeing someone on stage who looked like her, The New York Times reports.
Now, Charlotte is a ballerina at the School of American Ballet and will be making a name for herself on stage in The Nutcracker.
“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing S.A.B., but also representing all of our cultures,” Charlotte told The New York Times. “There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’”
Charlotte landed the part of Marie after a difficult audition of over 180 dancers. Dena Abergel, the children’s ballet master of City Ballet, told The New York Times that she considers a dancer’s size, dependability and dramatic finesse for casting.
The Times reported that over the past seven years, the New York City Ballet has taken 62 S.A.B. students, 12 of whom are Black and four who are women.
But for Charlotte, although she thinks being the first Black Marie is a big deal, she says it’s not different because it’s “just how I grew up,” the Times reports. Dance is what’s most important to her.
“To me, it just feels like when I dance. I feel free and I feel empowered,” Charlotte told The New York Times. “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.”