From JKO to ABT: Cassandra Trenary

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.

Fun Facts

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.”

Latest Posts

Gregory Batardon, Courtesy Prix de Lausanne

The 2021 Prix de Lausanne Prepares for a Year Like No Other

In an ordinary year, early February marks an exciting time in the ballet world: the return of the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition. But this is no ordinary year, so this is no ordinary Prix. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 edition will run from January 31 to February 7, completely via video.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Ximena Brunette

Inside Washington Ballet Artist Ashley Murphy-Wilson's Dance Bag

Ashley Murphy-Wilson, an artist at The Washington Ballet, is all about making things personal. Well, personalized, that is. "My best purchase ever was a label maker," she says. "Everything I own is labeled. My phone charger is labeled. My roller is labeled. Everyone knows: If I leave something in the studio, I'm coming back for it—because my name is on it."

The TWB dancer adds a personal touch to almost everything in her dance bag, be it with her label maker, her "signature" leopard print legwarmers or her bedazzled (yes, we said bedazzled) booties. It's the mark of an experienced dancer; Murphy-Wilson, now in her sixth season at TWB after 13 years with Dance Theatre of Harlem, knows better than to let her belongings get lost to the dance studio "black hole" effect.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks