New York City Ballet casts Charlotte Nebres as first black Marie in 'The Nutcracker'

iStock/ChoreographAt the tender age of eleven, Charlotte Nebres is already making history.

According to The New York Times, Nerbres has become the first black ballerina to be cast in the lead role of Marie in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, which opened Friday at the New York City Ballet.

The coveted role of Marie, a character which in other productions has been named Clara, dates back to 1954.

Nebres says she was inspired by another history-making ballerina, Misty Copeland, who became the first female African-American principal dancer at American Ballet Theater when Nebres was only six years old.

“I saw her perform and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” she said. “When I saw someone who looked like me onstage, I thought, ‘That’s amazing.’ She was representing me and all the people like me.”

Charlotte, who is a ballerina at the School of American Ballet, said she was surprised when she learned that she was making history, later adding she was also proud to be representing her school.

“It’s pretty amazing to be not only representing S.A.B., but also representing all of our cultures,” Nebres told The Times. “There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’”

Even though she’s only eleven, Nebres admits that dance has already become a way of life for her.

“You feel really free and open when you dance and to me, the dance world is almost a separate world. You’re not thinking about school,” she said. “As much as I like the technique and all of that, I really like the moments when you get to move through the air and feel the music.”

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