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.
As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?
This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.
Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)
I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.