Entertainment

For The First Time Ever, A Black Girl Was Cast To Play Marie For The New York City Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Who doesn’t love the holiday season? From the food and decorations to the Christmas specials and “The Nutcracker,” the holidays usher in a fun season for everyone. The New York City Ballet is changing some traditions and cast the first Black girl to play Marie in the famous ballet.

The New York City Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” will have its very first Black ballet dancer in the lead role of Marie.

Credit: girls_with_confidence / Instagram

Playing Marie will be 11-year-old Charlotte Nebres, who attends the School of American Ballet. The New York Times reports that the New York City Ballet chooses its young dancers typically from that roster of children that attend that school. 

Danielle Nebres, Charlotte’s mother, recalled to The New York Times, the moment that her daughter informed her that she got the role. Charlotte casually told her mom that she won the part of Marie (out of 180 dancers) without making a big deal about it. 

“With that poker face of hers, she said, ‘Well, I’m Marie,’ And I just thought, oh my goodness — they really did it,” Danielle told The New York Times. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Charlotte was told that she would be the first Black Marie ever to be cast by The New York City Ballet, to which she responded, “Wow. That seems a little late.”

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Yes, it is! For Charlotte, who’s only 11 years old, she isn’t as conditioned to witness white people in most lead roles and in general. She grew up watching another Black pioneer in ballet, Misty Copeland. 

“I saw her perform, and she was just so inspiring and so beautiful,” Charlotte told The New York Times. “When I saw someone who looked like me on stage, I thought, that’s amazing. She was representing me and all the people like me.”

Charlotte isn’t the only person of color in the year’s season of The Nutcracker. The cast also includes “Tanner Quirk, who is half-Chinese, as her prince; Sophia Thomopoulos, who is half-Korean and half-Greek as the other Marie; and Kai Misra-Stone, who is half-South Asian, as Sophia’s prince,” People magazine reports. Charlotte herself is half-Trinidad, half Filipino. 

A New York City Ballet official said Charlotte wasn’t chosen to diversify the cast, but rather because she embodied the role of Marie completely.

Credit: westindianamericans / Instagram

“When I’m looking for someone who can do Marie, I’m looking for someone primarily who has an ability to act on stage and to convey a story,” Dena Abergel, children’s ballet master at New York City Ballet, told CNN. “It has to be someone who can command the stage and who has enough confidence and spontaneity to handle whatever comes her way.”

The School of American Ballet has, however, made a point to diversify its students. They are, after all, the ones who teach future stage dancers. The New York Times reports that in the past seven years, only 62 students are of mixed race, 12 of them identify as Black, and of that group only four in total are women. Now, since the school is trying to diversify its class, the New York City Ballet has more diversity to choose from. 

“Because I have the diversity of students and the pool to choose from that is diverse, some of those students will end up being the leads, and it just happened to work out without my even realizing it that all four were of some mixed diversity,” Abergel said to CNN. “And that’s just mirroring what’s happening in New York City and around the world.”

We love seeing more inclusivity in fictional characters that have been typically portrayed by white people.

Credit: rachelzegler / Instagram

In recent years, we’ve seen several famous fictional characters, including Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” Cinderella, and even Maria, from “The West Story,” which were all previously played by white women. These stories are now being revised and played by women of color in order to show where our society has always been and how it is growing. 

For Charlotte, however, while the inclusion of a black girl in The Nutcracker is a big deal for her, this is all about dancing. 

“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.”

Click here to try to score tickets to this show. 

READ: Elisa Carrillo Made History As The First Mexican Woman To Win This Prestigious Ballet Award And She Dedicated It To Her Home Country

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Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Culture

Socially Distanced Navidad? Here Are the Best Family Games to Play Over Zoom

Photo: Getty Images

This Christmas, unfortunately, is going to be tough for a lot of people. With the coronavirus pandemic still waging on, many of us have had to make the tough decision to stay home for the holidays. That means no traveling out of town or visiting extended family like we have in years past.

If you come from a family that likes to get into the competitive spirit and play games over the holidays, then giving up that tradition might feel too disappointing. Luckily, we can all rely on technology to keep us connected in these trying times when we’re forced to be apart.

We’ve compiled a list of Zoom-friendly games that you can play with your family over the holidays and beyond. Take a peak at our fun picks below!

1. Charades

This one’s an easy one. All you have to do is create a Zoom link, send it out to family members and pick a topic to act out. If you’re having trouble thinking of a word, trying using a Charades word generator.

2. Card Games

Who says a little old pandemic can keep us from playing cards with our loved ones? For many of us, playing cards with our family is as steadfast a holiday tradition as exchanging gifts is. Log on to https://playingcards.io/ to create a custom game room to share with your family.

3. Bingo

Think about it: Bingo is the perfect game to play over Zoom. Websites like https://myfreebingocards.com/virtual-bingo have virtual bingo games you can play for free with up to 30 participants!

4. Heads Up!

Heads Up! is a game in which a player has to guess which word/topic is on their phone screen by the clues their team members are giving them. In order to make the most of this game, players at each Zoom location will have to download the Heads Up! app on their phone. And after that, it’s smooth sailing.

5. All Bad Cards (aka Cards Against Humanity)

If you’re the type of family that likes to push the envelope over a game of Cards Against Humanity, consider logging onto https://allbad.cards/. All you have to do is generate a party room and send the link out to the members of your “party”. Then, you’re ready to go!

6. Pictionary

Pictionary is the kind of game that Zoom was practically invented for. In order to play this game, you’ll have to fire up Zoom’s whiteboard tool and share your screen with all of the participating players. Again, if you can’t think of a topic, get some help with a Pictionary random word generator.

7. Trivial Pursuit

You’ll have to own this classic board game in order to play over Zoom, but if you do, setting it up and playing is super easy. In order to make this game user-friendly for all participants, make sure there’s someone in your location that can play on the same team as someone in a different Zoom location. That way, all the players can be sure that there’s no cheating involved.

8. Outburst

If you’re a fan of Family Feud, then Outburst is probably right up your alley. This game requires that each player brainstorm lists off of a given topic (i.e. Top Ten Christmas songs). Unfortunately, there is no virtual or online version of the game, but instead, team members can take turns coming up with topics and having other players brainstorm lists.

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Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Entertainment

Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Hark the herald! Stephen and Ayesha Claus Curry– are here to bring literary joy this season.

The Golden State Warrior and his wife are donating thousands of books to schools around Oakland, California this holiday season in an effort to bring joy to children.

The couple, behind Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, made the announcement earlier this week.

“We along with our entire team at Eat. Learn. Play. understand the importance of early childhood education, especially when it comes to literacy,” Stephen and Ayesha told People magazine in a recent interview. “Nothing is more basic, more essential, more foundational, or more important to a child’s success in life than the ability to read well. We know there is a lot of work to be done, but with partners like Literati, we’re hopeful that we will be able to make an impact on these children’s lives.”

The Currys’ donations will arrive to schools in boxes that will contain six books.

The packages will include five children’s books and one for adults. All of which come from Stephen Curry’s “Underrated” book club selection.

Along with their thousand book giveaway, the couple’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation will donate boxes to students who are learning remotely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in collaboration with and Literati. Fourteen thousand boxes will go directly to Oakland Unified Schools.

According to people, “The remainder of the donation, which was also made possible through Bay Area investor Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, will be distributed through community partners in the new year.”

Speaking about their own experiences of teaching their children during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Stephen and Ayesha (who are parents to Canon W. Jack, 2, Ryan Carson, 5, and Riley, 8) told People that they’ve been hard work attempting to keep their children busy and learning.

“My oldest is pretty disciplined so that’s been easy, but our 5-year-old has a little trouble staying engaged for an extended period of time,” Ayesha, host of ABC’s new show “Family Food Fight,” explained.

Ayesha says she has found that taking part in “some kind of physical activity right before class starts” helps her daughter Ryan “to focus the mind and get some of the wiggles out, and periodic ‘dance breaks’ between lessons.”

“We also added resistance workout bands to the legs of her chair, which give her something to do if she gets antsy during a long Zoom session,” Stephen added.

“Luckily for me, Stephen has really stepped in with education and their schooling. And I’m okay with that because I birthed them so now [he] can birth and nurture their education,” Ayesha joked in a recent episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

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