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Debut Deferred

featuring Soloist Cassandra Trenary

May 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm

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Debut Deferred

ABT dancers who were slated to debut in a new role this season record a short rehearsal of their character while sheltering at home, and answer questions about missing the opportunity to debut and preparing to do so in the future.

Q & A

Soloist Cassandra Trenary discusses her deferred debut in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, which is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with ABT this year.

What roles were you meant to debut?

I was to debut “Juliet” in Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Had you started rehearsing for the role?

I had started rehearsing for the role officially last November, but I have been rehearsing it for years, in my mind! Haha!

What were/are you most looking forward to about the debut?

The combination of Prokofiev’s score and MacMillan’s movement is enough to make your heart explode. Every time I hear that overture, I well up. It’s hard to put into words how excited I am to step on stage, go on Juliet’s journey of coming into her own, and pursue her reckless love. This production is like watching a film of sorts, and there is a certain freedom in the steps that allow you to focus on storytelling and theatrical expression. It’s a massive challenge, and you have to allow yourself to be utterly unafraid of being vulnerable, sometimes a little ugly, and present. I’m excited for all of it.

How has this time in quarantine changed your perspective on taking on the character?

It’s about to get really sad for a moment, but these are sad times… I just want to preface this with letting y’all know that I am okay! (Haha.) This pandemic has at times left me feeling grief, helplessness, alone, and like I have to surrender it all to the universe in order to find relief, daily. That all sounds very dramatic, but they are very real moments even if they only last a minute. Juliet goes through quite similar emotional rollercoasters, especially in Act III of MacMillan’s production. I guess for the first time in my life, I know what it actually feels like to be by myself on the floor, feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances around me, overcome with grief, utterly out of control — but with a will to pick myself up and keep going — even with a most uncertain future. Life imitates art.

Are you doing anything now to prepare for the character?

I continue to listen to the music at times, continue to imagine what choices I would make in certain moments when I do get on stage. I’ve watched other productions of the story. I watch films starring young Heroes and Sheros for inspiration. I have just continued to take in information and inspiration where I can find it. I can’t get enough.



“In this moment, we see Juliet in one of her most vulnerable states. She has just defied her Father and entire family in a major way, by not agreeing to marry Paris. In addition, she has been betrayed by her nurse, who has encouraged her to move forward with this union with the knowledge that Juliet already has a husband, Romeo. Romeo just left town in exile. When Juliet’s family exits her room in a fury, Juliet is left utterly alone, helpless and defeated. Not entirely sure of what to do next, she reaches down for her scarf. This piece of fabric symbolizes Romeo to me in this moment. It is my “wedding vail,” and I imagine it carries his scent. It’s a place of solace. When she feels as though there isn’t much left to do, we see her rest on the edge of her bed, her other space of solace. It’s as if everything that has happened to her up to this point flashes before her eyes. She experiences anger, grief, bewilderment, and finally a resolve. She realizes she isn’t alone, there is one more person in her life that who knows what is going on, the Friar.”

“Juliet’s nurse, father, mother, and Paris have just left her alone in her room, under the impression that she will be wed to Paris the following morning. Juliet knows this potion is her only chance at being with her Romeo once more and escaping these circumstances. Juliet has to build up the courage to do this deed. Every time she reaches for the potion, she is met with another fear, or frustration with herself. “What if this doesn’t work?” “It’s going to be horrifying to wake up in the tomb with all of my rotting relatives.” “You can do this stop being a child!” etc. Finally, Juliet knows that what will set her heart at peace is divine intervention. At last, after finding the courage she was looking for through her prayer, she takes the potion. After feeling the effects of the potion, and of course trying to keep it down, she reaches one last time towards her bedroom window as if to say, ‘I’ll see you soon my love.'”