11-Year-Old Ballerina Charlotte Nebres Makes History as First Black Lead in NYC Ballet’s The Nutcracker


She’s just eleven years old and just made history.

Charlotte Nebres is starring as Marie, the young heroine of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, which opened Friday at New York City Ballet. She’s the first black ballerina to be cast in the lead role for the prestigious company.

The Madison, NJ native’s barrier breaking achievement is a milestone for the holiday-themed production, which dates back to February 2, 1954 — when Balanchine put his own spin on the E.T.A Hoffman’s 1816 scary fairy tale after dancing in Marius Petipa’s adaptation in 1919 when he was 15.

Set to Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky’s classic score, Balanchine’s The Nutcracker features the New York City Ballet’s entire roster of more than 150 dancers and musicians, as well as more than 125 children, in two alternating casts, from the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet.