Being in a ballet company is consuming enough. Yet Jennifer Kronenberg is branching out beyond her role as a principal dancer at Miami City Ballet.
Unlike many ballerinas, Kronenberg, 37, has taught regularly at MCB’s summer intensive. The sometimes startling gaps in her students’ knowledge has inspired Kronenberg to write a how-to guide, So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer? Kronenberg got her contract for the book’s print edition just before she discovered she was pregnant with Eva, her daughter with husband and fellow MCB principal Carlos Miguel Guerra. “I was kicking myself,” she says. “But as much as I say I want to rest, I always need to be doing something.”
That intensity is characteristic of the willowy Kronenberg, who excels in dramatic parts like Giselle and Juliet, the strutting lead in Balanchine’s Rubies and the gripping roles she originated in abstract ballets by Alexei Ratmansky and Liam Scarlett.
Though the New York native’s favorite subject in school was English, any fantasies she had of becoming a writer were sidelined when she signed her contract with MCB at age 17. But five years ago she found herself complaining to Guerra that her MCB students often didn’t know ballet basics. “They’d say, ‘Can I sit down? I have a blister.’ And I’d be like, ‘Are you kidding? You better get used to handling this.’ ” Her husband’s reaction? “There’s your book.”
Kronenberg tapped out So, You Want to Be on her iPad during rehearsal breaks and at night—and took class until two weeks before Eva’s birth in November 2012. She drew on her own mishaps, like setting her pointe shoes on fire while trying to harden them in the oven at the School of American Ballet, to illustrate common pitfalls.
“We all learn from mistakes,” she says. “But there are so many things to stress about. How nice if you knew what was expected of you.”
After Eva was born, as Kronenberg juggled rehearsals and breast-feeding, she briefly considered—but dismissed—quitting. After all, by producing baby and book, she’d already gotten through the hardest part. “If you dedicate yourself to doing something, you’ll get ahead,” she says. “That gives me the strength and confidence to continue dancing.”
Unusual personal moment: Carlos Guerra proposed to her in front of his Cuban family—who videotaped it!
Fun hobby: Pre-baby, Guerra and Kronenberg would go salsa dancing on weekends they didn’t perform.
Dream role: The woman in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux. “So simple, so gorgeous.”
Secret talent: Learned Spanish in the dressing room from MCB’s many Latina dancers.