Shannon Harkins, the face of African American ballet dancers’ struggle

November 29, 2013 2:42 PM

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Harkins, 13, nods. She doesn’t especially like being singled out, although in the elite world of ballet, she is often singular. “Again,” says Djouloukhadze, and the dancers from the first cast — who dance the premiere shows with the company stars — scramble back into their starting positions.

This is Harkins’s eighth year at the Washington School of Ballet and her seventh year in “The Nutcracker.” She’s been a party girl, a soldier, a butterfly. She’s a Chinese girl in this year’s production, but she’s aiming for corps of ballet roles, such as a snowflake. After that, she wants a profess...

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