New York – Bronx – 1960. After fighting at school and experiencing a drive-by shooting, TANYA, a nine-year-old African American girl, moves with her single mother, DEDE to Georgia for a new beginning. When Dede takes Tanya along to a cleaning job at a ballet school, Tanya soon grows a fascination for ballet and dreams of becoming a ballerina herself. While cleaning the studio, Tanya observes the dancers and secretly practices their routines. Once the owner gets a glimpse of Tanya’s untapped potential, she invites Tanya to join her all-white ballet class where she soon faces discrimination from other girls.
After enduring ten years of mockery at school, ridicule in ballet class and humiliation for being a maid, Tanya takes a chance and auditions for the New York City Ballet company where she scores a one-year contract. Excitement soon spreads when Russian ballet master, Nikolay, announces Cinderella to be his next production. Dozens of highly trained dancers audition for the lead part that requires an emotional transformation from a downtrodden servant to an ecstatic and joyful Cinderella, but no one can match the authentic and deep-felt performance of Tanya who uses her passion for ballet as well as her past humiliations as a driving dancing force. Bitter jealousy and friendship betrayal, especially by BRIE, soon follow after Nikolay announces his choice for the lead. Things get even worse when the owner of the ballet company hears about a black Cinderella and subsequently demotes Tanya to a supporting role, playing a mouse. Devastated, Tanya thinks of giving up, but her mother and her secret admirer convince her to swallow her pride and to continue. In the meantime, Brie, the new Cinderella, not only overhears Nikolay plead with the owner to reconsider Tanya for the lead, but also gets scolded by her own brother in regard to betraying Tanya.
At the night of the performance, Brie shocks Tanya by wearing the dreaded mouse costume and offers Tanya the lead. Overwhelmed, Tanya accepts. As the curtains open and the audience spot the black Cinderella, unrest and disapproval quickly spread. Remembering her grandmother’s last words, Tanya confidently takes the stage and gives the performance of a lifetime until even the most stubborn spectator can’t ignore her incredible talent any longer. When Tanya breaks Pierina Legnani’s record of performing thirty-two fouettés in 1893, the audience jumps to its feet and give her an unprecedented standing ovation.