In celebration of Black History Month, Dance Spirit is saluting young Black artists who don’t just represent a bright future for the dance industry—they’re already making history of their own. Finishing our series: Charlotte Nebres. Be sure to check dancespirit.com to meet more dancers who embody Black excellence in dance and in life. #BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow
Every December, bunheads across the country light up at the news that Nutcracker casting has been decided. And while many a budding ballerina hopes to dance as Clara/Marie, few make history in the role. School of American Ballet student Charlotte Nebres did just that at age 11 in 2019, when she became the first Black Marie in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet.
At age 6, she was inspired by Misty Copeland’s promotion to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Now, she follows in Copeland’s footsteps in more ways than one: In addition to being a pioneer onstage, Nebres released her first book, Charlotte and the Nutcracker, in December 2021. Based on her own life, the story follows a young dancer named Charlotte as she prepares to play Marie in New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker. The picture book for young readers also depicts the holiday traditions of Nebres’ Trinidadian and Filipino families.
Nebres wants her success to set an example. “I just hope that people can be able to see themselves and think, ‘If she did it, why can’t I?’ There shouldn’t be any sort of doubt in ability,” she said in an interview last year with Good Morning America. “It is possible.”