Cassandra Trenary, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre
Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in dance?
CT: I grew up in Lawrenceville, GA where my mom had put me in a tap and ballet combo class once a week at the age of three. She let me try so many things throughout my childhood to see what stuck. Dance did!
How did your background and your family's background; affect your passion for dance?
CT: My family did everything they possibly could to make my dreams come true. They didn’t have a background in dance but somehow they supported and trusted the 12 yr. old me 100 percent of the way when I decided to put dance first in my life. Their support definitely fueled my passion- I wouldn’t have made it without their encouragement.
What career would you have chosen if you could not have been a dancer?
CT: I had so many ideas as a kid as to what I wanted to be! It went from secret agent to fashion designer to Actress, etc. I like to think one of those would have happened! I would still love to pursue a career in acting one day.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started dancing professionally?
Someone else’s success or downfall will not determine how your career will go. I wish I had known that my dreams were going to become a reality very quickly, it would have saved a lot of tears and self doubt. Then again without those, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard as I have thus far.
Of all the roles you have performed, which role helped you grow the most as an artist?
They have all contributed for sure. Every role I have been given has had a new challenge that lead to so much growth. One in particular that stands out is The Little Sister in Antony Tudor’s ‘Pillar of fire.’ It was a very specific character that I was given the opportunity to portray and yet I had so much freedom with how I did things. It was the first time in a long time that I was able to make choices. At first I was so scared because I didn’t know how to act without someone telling me exactly how I should be in that moment. However, I found that I really thrive when I get to make choices and I have the right people guiding me a long the way as I make them. Now I’m not scared to go there.
If a child told you they wanted to be a dancer, what advice would you give them?
It is important to work hard but it is also important to leave some time for other things in life. I have observed so many young dancers train so hard and make life all about becoming a professional that they forget the joy they have for it and/or lose time for a life outside of dance. There needs to be balance.
How has social media changed a dancer’s status and what is required of them?
The fact is, the more you get your name out there, the more people want to come see you do what you do. It is almost essential to a career in the arts now a days. There are so many ways to do it now that anyone can be famous in some form whether it’s youtube or instagram. That is so crazy to me but we all have to keep up!
Do you have one moment in your career that you remember most fondly? Or one moment that you feel really defined your career or the trajectory of it?
CT: A friend and coworker of mine wanted to participate in a choreographic workshop that ABT had my first year in the company. I was an apprentice at the time but she asked if she could choreograph on me. She choreographed a pas de deux on myself and another young dancer (Sterling Baca) loosely based on a codependent, and in the end, heartbreaking relationship. It required a different level of performance maturity that I hadn’t experienced up until that point. My partner and I had to connect. When we did perform it though people seemed really blown away by us because we were so young at the time, especially our director. I think that that performance showed them how capable we were. It was one of my favorite performances to this day.
Who would you like most to have a coffee with (could be dead or alive)?
CT: Jesus. I have so many questions for that man.
Who were some of the people who influenced you the most in your career?
CT: My parents have influenced me the most. They were not wealthy, but throughout my entire life they never discouraged dreaming. They talk and live life as if nothing is impossible. They set goals, put all of their focus and energy into them, and achieve them. It’s so inspiring. My father’s latest is to be a sponsored golf pro. It’s happening within the next few years I guarantee it.
What do you most value in your friends?
CT: Honesty is what I value most. I like to surround myself with people who wont be afraid to tell me like it is. Also, I am closest to people who allow me to be honest with them in return. I also value the fact that they do not judge me. They will tell me if I’m wrong about something, or being ridiculous but they won’t judge me for it!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
CT: I don’t think there is a perfect happiness. My idea’s of happiness are constantly changing. As of right now, I’m extremely happy though. My career is really taking off, I am in love with someone who is going to support me through the tough times and enjoy life with me during the good. I have the most amazing friends and family. I guess I’m as close as I can be at the moment!
If you could be an animal, what would animal would you choose and why?
CT: I would love to be some kind of bird- I think it would be so incredible to fly. I could go anywhere, anytime.
Which person (dead or alive) would you most want to dance with if you could?
CT: Beyonce. Ever since I saw one of her performances in BK, it has been a dream of mine to be one of her dancers- they were so powerful.
What is your greatest indulgence?
CT: My greatest indulgence is a good bottle of red wine, dark chocolate and cuddling with my hubby….. all at the same time.
What are your worst fears (professionally or personally)?
CT: My biggest fears are being judged and disappointing people. I put very high expectations on myself professionally and in life as a friend to others and a wife now to the point where it can be mentally destructive sometimes. I’m always afraid of what people might think of me, my art, my lifestyle…the usual. I guess I am quite self conscious.
What was your biggest mishap in a performance?
CT: In one performance, a ribbon on my pointe shoe came unstitched and had unwound from my ankle. It was in the middle of a slow pas de deux where I didn’t leave the stage so I kept dancing but the tears just started streaming because this long ribbon was dangling from my foot! This particular performance was a big deal because it was my last show I was dancing with my studio at home before moving to NY. It was supposed to be my last hoorah and I ruined it. Now I’m so anal about how my shoes are sewn for shows it’s a little crazy! Lesson learned.
What is the one thing you wished more people knew about dancing?
CT: I wish more people knew it was a career. If one more person asks me if “my troup” is “like a school thing?” I might lose it! It’s just hard to explain sometimes because very few careers can begin at age 17 or younger like in this world that is dance.