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ART BEAT: Gwinnett ballerina Cassie Trenary invited to join American Ballet Theatre Company

23_Cassie Trenary

23_Cassie Trenary

Dreams do come true. Just ask Lawrenceville's Cassie Trenary. She began dancing at the Lawrence-ville School of Ballet at age 3. Now, at 18, she has achieved what so many young dancers aspire to do, yet few accomplish. Trenary has been accepted as a member of the corp de ballet in one of the country's top ballet companies, American Ballet Theatre located in New York City.

As a result, Trenary will be performing in ABT's "Nutcracker" for every one of their 22 shows. She is very young to be invited into this most prestigious of companies, as she was only 17 when she got the nod.

Her career started under the tutelage of Phyllis Allen at Lawrenceville School of Ballet, home of Southern Ballet Theatre.

"Phyllis was like my second mother," Trenary said. "She was always pushing me to go farther and providing that safe environment for me and my fellow students and friends to pursue dancing. She is the one who told me to get training elsewhere during the summer. More specifically, she suggested the ABT summer program."

At the age of 12, Trenary attended the ABT intensive held in Alabama. At the end of the summer, she was offered a scholarship to ABT in New York City.

"That is what made me realize that I was capable of making ballet my career," she said.

Trenary attended Brookwood High School as a freshman and sophomore, but her junior year was entirely different.

"When I moved to NYC, I attended the Professional Performing Arts School, which allows you the freedom in your academic schedule to pursue your performing art 'major,'" Trenary said. "I also finished my senior year online ,which enabled me to start my professional career a lot sooner than I had planned."

Moving to NYC was a huge change from living in Gwinnett. "My parents didn't want me moving to NYC by myself, so we packed up the whole family and our five-bedroom house and moved into a one-bedroom apartment. That was the most difficult change, having to share a tiny space with my little brother and one small bathroom for a family of four and a border collie."

The sacrifice certainly paid off, however. Trenary started off in the middle of three levels as a 16-year-old.

"I felt like I was not quite as good as I should be for my age," Trenary said. "There were 15-year-olds in the top level, which was discouraging at times. Little did I know that the following year I would end up in the company."

This great event happened without warning. "I didn't see it coming so soon, but of course I am happy," she said. "Imagine my surprise when they told me they wanted me to stay full time when the season ended. I was so in shock. All I could do was smile really big."

Travelers to NYC can see Trenary perform from Dec. 14-31 in such roles as Harlequin dolls, Chinese pas de deux, Snow and Flowers. As she lives out her dream, she has advice for young dancers pursuing their own dreams: "Never forget to enjoy it, no matter who or what might try to discourage you. I know I can never forget how much I enjoy dancing."

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.