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By Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg
A dancer of both strength and allure, Miami City Ballet’s Jennifer Kronenberg is known as an exemplary Balanchine ballerina. She has mastered the pizzazz of Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, the dreaminess of the Sleepwalker in Sonnambula, and the bold angularity of Agon. But Kronenberg, who graced our cover in October 2009, has also danced leads in Coppélia, where her comic timing shines through, and Giselle, with her favorite partner, husband Carlos Miguel Guerra. And when Twyla Tharp creates a piece for the company, she’s likely to give the sexiest part to Kronenberg.
Kronenberg studied ballet with Teresa Aubel in Queens, NY, and came to SAB as a full-time student at 16. The following year, 1994, she became an apprentice at MCB and rose to principal in 2001. This spring, she and Guerra perform the young lovers in the company premiere of Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet. Her book So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer? will be published electronically this spring.
For me, ballet has always been a fascinating conundrum of contradictions. It is so physical, yet completely intellectual. It liberates me more than anything else, yet I am a slave to it daily. It has brought me immeasurable joy, but not without tremendous frustration. It instills in me confidence and pride, and enables me to generate remarkable beauty, yet can make me feel insecure and ashamed of my imperfections. It allows me to be giving and selfless onstage, but commands me to be self-absorbed in the studio. It provides me an avenue for creativity and abandon, while forcing me to be a meticulous perfectionist. Striking a balance between each of these paradoxes has been an invigorating, unending journey.
What I love most about dancing is embodying music, making it come to life. Music, especially classical, has always had the ability to arouse passionate feelings in me, and the best way for me to express them is by dancing. The great challenge for me in ballet is mastering the technique enough to allow myself the freedom to interpret, play with, and eventually become the music.
Finding inspiration within music, discovering characters within myself, and staying true to my love of performing give me the drive to push through the most challenging moments. Within these I’ve found a safe haven to express emotions (some that may intimidate me when I’m not dancing), and I feel free in a state of abandonment.
I am obsessed with realizing new joys that dancing introduces into my life. Partnering with my husband, Carlos, has been the greatest of thrills thus far. We inspire each other to be more complete dancers, and we constantly learn something new about one another. We provide each other unwavering security, which allows our movements to flow genuinely from the core. We continually find unique connections to each other within each dance, like an intriguing uncensored conversation. No performance is like the last, and, for better or worse, that keeps me yearning for more.
There are some days that I dance just for him, and for the love that we share. On harder days, I dance for my teacher and mentor Teresa, who invested so much of herself in me. When I feel pressure or apprehension, I try to dance for my grandma Carla, who was always convinced I’d make it as a ballerina. For 15 years I’ve danced for Edward Villella, to show him how grateful I am for the invaluable knowledge he’s given me, and to make him proud of the dancer he created. Sometimes, I’ll receive letters from people who were touched by a performance, and then it all comes together; I realize “This is why.” I dance for the satisfaction of leaving a positive imprint on someone’s life.
Ultimately, I dance for myself. Dancing defines and completes me; it’s part of my soul. I do believe that “Once a dancer, always a dancer.” I know I’ll be connected to it in one way or another, moving and dancing through the music of life, for as long as I live.
Kronenberg in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Photo by Matthew Karas.