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What Cassandra Trenary Plans to do with Her $50,000 Annenberg Fellowship
When the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts announced their tenth and final round of $50,000 fellowships for performing and visual artists last week, it wasn't exactly a surprise to see Cassandra Trenary's name on the list. The American Ballet Theatre soloist sparkles onstage in classical rep (particularly in works by Alexei Ratmansky), but hasn't been content with a typical company career. She's constantly working on outside projects; in fact, when we caught up with her she was in between a rehearsal with Gemma Bond and a preview showing of an Alejandro Cerrudo–choreographed project she'll perform with Daniil Simkin this fall.
How did you react when you got the news that you were receiving the fellowship?
I was so overjoyed of course, but also kind of felt this pressure all of a sudden. There were so many things I had set out to do if I received it, and now that I have I've got a lot of work to do! I'm looking forward to challenging myself in ways I've never had a chance to before.
Past ABT recipients include Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston—does that add to the pressure?
Oh, absolutely! I'm very humbled and honored to look at the dancers in the past who have received this and be included in that special group, and I'm thinking of all the dancers I would have chosen for it over myself. I'm so grateful, and I don't take it for granted.
Cassandra Trenary in rehearsal with Alexei Ratmansky. Photo by Susie Morgan Taylor, Courtesy ABT.
You're planning to use the fellowship to study with outside companies, correct?
I'm looking to travel to Amsterdam, England and St. Petersburg. What I really want to do is stretch myself, technically speaking. I want to see what these places offer to the dance world and see how I can infuse my own dancing and artistry with it.
You're looking at working with the Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. What influenced you to go for three such different groups?
I love exploring different types of movement. I love how refined and pure the dancers at The Royal are, but they also have this edge that they bring to their contemporary work. And you go to Russia and those dancers are, for lack of a better term, whacked out! But they also have that perfect Russian technique that I've never had the opportunity to work in. And I'm obsessed with NDT! I love the way they move, they're another breed. I've always really enjoyed and identified with contemporary work. A friend of mine just joined the company, and I want to work with him and get some inspiration that way, and work on contemporary partnering. Also, I really want to do some more acting, so I'm also looking into acting courses and the more theatrical side of things.
I just want to explore more, and be pushed in ways I've never been pushed. It's easy to get comfortable in your company and surroundings. But these other coaches will look at me with a blank slate and not know when to give me the benefit of the doubt, and they're going to push me.
Cassandra Trenary in rehearsal with Daniil Simkin. Photo by Jim Lafferty.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.