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

November 29, 2013 2:42 PM

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

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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