‘Very happy and proud,’ says grandpa of Nutcracker’s Charlotte Nebres

Charlotte with her lolo, Dr Jose ‘Pepe’ Nebres. Photo was taken during a party for the family of the cast hosted by the New York City Ballet after the show.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Charlotte Nebres, the 11-year-old ballerina who plays the young heroine Marie in “The Nutcracker,” comes from a Filipino family in Bacnotan, La Union, whose elders were priests, educators, and doctors.

Charlotte is the middle daughter of U.S.-born Joe Nebres, whose family is from the Philippines, and Danielle Nebres who is from Trinidad. She has two siblings, Libby, 13, and Nathan, 5, according to grandfather Dr. Jose Nebres, who, at 74 years old, continues to practice geriatric medicine in Upstate New York.

“I am called ‘lolo’ (grandfather in Tagalog) by Charlotte,” Nebres said in an email interview with The FilAm. “Lolo is very close to Charlotte and her two siblings.”

Dr. Nebres is the younger brother of Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. who was president of Ateneo de Manila for almost 20 years. They have a sister, Josefina, who is a directress at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City.

He said his son Joe, Charlotte’s dad, was born and raised in Albany. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology and Music from Tufts University in Massachusetts and a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School where he specialized in patents and trademark law.  He works as a manager for Verizon Media. He has an older sister who is also a doctor.

As Marie, Charlotte leads a cast of more than a 100 performers and children in George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker.’ The children are students of the School of American Ballet, the official school of the NYCB. Photo: NYCB.

“He has some musical talent. He was a drummer with a band from high school till college,” Dr. Nebres said. Both his parents are doctors who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in1969.

Joe has been to the Philippines but not his family, he said. “They are looking forward to visiting soon and have a chance to meet their dad’s family.” His mother passed away in 1994, and Dr. Nebres remarried a woman who resides in New York City.

He said “it was a complete surprise” to the family when his granddaughter was chosen to portray Marie. “Charlotte is a very talented artist on top of her dancing skills.”

He has seen “The Nutcracker” with the family. “Charlotte was superb. Truly a joy to watch. I’m a very happy and proud Lolo.”

Charlotte, a ballet student at the School of American Ballet (SAB) is being hailed in the ballet world for being young, being black, and a likely successor to Misty Copeland. Copeland is the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, a prestigious national dance company.

“The first black lead in NYC Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’,” reads the New York Post headline.

“Seeing a black girl as Marie in ‘The Nutcracker’ is ‘huge,’” says CBS News.

“Charlotte Nebres is the first black Marie, the young heroine of ‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, at New York City Ballet,” is the opening line in a New York Times feature article.

Dr. Nebres said the issue of diversity did not sink in right away.

“(Our reaction was) Just pure joy and pride,” he said. “Her Filipino heritage not being mentioned as prominently as her mom’s heritage…could have been mentioned better.”

© The FilAm 2019

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