Before joining JKO in 2009, Cassandra Trenary only took two or three ballet classes a week at her home studio in Georgia. Her focus was split between ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary and hip hop. JKO faculty spotted her at their New York summer intensive and asked her to stay year-round, placing her, at 16, in a class with mostly 13-year-olds to strengthen her foundation.
It was clear that Trenary was something special. She had a remarkable sense of dynamics and an uncanny ability to express music through her body—not to mention legs and feet that seemed born for ballet. She was also a conscientious student, and she improved quickly. Halfway through her second year, Trenary was asked to tour with ABT II as an apprentice; then she was invited to apprentice with the main company. Trenary still had to finish her training as well as her performances with ABT II, so she did all three, running between studios throughout the day. “Yeah, it was stressful,” she admits, “but to be honest, I loved it.”
When asked how JKO shaped her dancing, Trenary comes as close as she gets to swearing: “Oh my gosh! Mr. De Vita refined every detail. Especially my port de bras. He gave me corrections like, ‘Pretend there’s a diamond ring at the end of your arm in arabesque.’ ”
ABT hasn’t wasted any time putting Trenary to use. Although she’s only 18, Trenary exudes confidence beyond her years in contemporary movement: She can unleash a feistiness you wouldn’t expect from a sweet southern belle. In her first season as full corps member last fall, she was cast in a soloist role in a premiere by Demis Volpi—alternating with Sarah Lane.
Her favorite role so far: “Swan Lake. As painful as it is for the corps, standing in the same positions for so long, being onstage with that music feels so beautiful.”
Outside classes: “I miss contemporary from time to time, so I try to take Joe Lanteri or Suzi Taylor’s jazz classes at Steps whenever I can.”
Dream role: “In the Upper Room. I would love to be a stomper or the main ballerina.”
Secret talent: “Eating. No, I’m kidding! I want to learn to cook—I love any kind of pasta—but right now I’m just really good at ordering delivery from GrubHub or Seamless online.”