For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."


In fact, the lead children's cast of NYCB's production is remarkably diverse this year. Marie is also played by Sophia Thomopoulos, who is half-Korean, half-Greek, and the two Nutcracker princes are played by Tanner Quirk, who is half-Chinese, and Kai Misra-Stone, who is half-South Asian.

Charlotte told the NYT she's especially excited about the impact her dancing could have. "There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, hey, I can do that, too," says Charlotte.

Merde, Charlotte!

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Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet

If you've got your heart set on dancing for, say, San Francisco Ballet, you should attend a school that specializes in Balanchine, right? Not necessarily: It's actually a misconception that you have to train in a particular style or technique in order to pursue a career in that style. Ellison Ballet in New York City—which specializes in Vaganova technique—is living proof: Graduates of Ellison's year-round program and summer intensives go on to ballet companies that perform in a wide range of styles, and use what they've learned from Vaganova to land jobs.

Here are five reasons why studying Vaganova technique can actually make you a sought-after dancer for any number of ballet companies:

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Karina González in Ben Stevenson's Coppélia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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Dancers certainly don't need anyone to tell them how physical their profession is. But now, we have the data to prove it.

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