For the First Time In History, The Kansas City Ballet Selects A Black Ballerina For ‘The Nutcracker’ Leading Role


December 6, 2018


 Photo credit: David Pulliam

The popular Christmas play, “The Nutcracker,” is adding some Black girl magic to its lineup with the Kansas City Ballet tapping Whitney Huell as the play’s sugar plum fairy. With this role, Huell will be the Ballet’s first Black ballerina to play a leading character.

In an interview with local Kansas City news station KHSB 41, Huell said that she started dancing at five years old and has been performing with “The Nutcracker” for a while. This year, however, she says her involvement with the play will be extra special and she hopes that her new role “will show young dancers of color that they can do anything.” 


Huell is only the second Black ballerina to be hired by the Kansas City Ballet, reports The Kansas City Star. Last year, while performing in “The Nutcracker,” she played the role of the Snow Queen. 

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Feeling blessed ✨ #nutcracker #sugarplumfairy #kcballet #kshb

A post shared by Whitney Huell (@jwhuell) on


Artistic Director Devon Carney says he’s proud of Huell’s accomplishment and “couldn’t imagine a better opportunity than to have the chance to be artistic director and see this come to life, finally, here for Kansas City Ballet.”

“It’s a very important moment for all of us,” he added.


Huell’s career is following in a similar path to that of Kansas City native Misty Copeland. In 2015, Copeland became the American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal dancer. That’s one year after Huell joined the Kansas City Ballet in 2014.

Recently, Copeland also starred in “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” which is a film adaptation of the ballet.

In 2015, Copeland told Time, “it’s important for me to set an example of what a healthy image is, what a ballerina can be—that she doesn’t have to be a white woman that’s rail-thin.”


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