MCB Summer: Jennifer Kronenberg’s BIG APPLE Homecoming
Wrapping up our ‘MCB Summer’ series, principal dancer Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg writes about her homecoming trip to New York, where her ballet career started in a small, local dance studio in Queens.
What a busy summer this has been for our family! The weeks have really flown by. This summer was extra special — my first as a mommy — and I have so enjoyed having the extra time to spend with my beautiful baby girl Eva. What a gift! She has grown and changed so much in the last couple of months, and she happily joined us on all of our trips this summer! Carlos and I were so nervous about taking her on her first airplane ride, and worried about how she would handle the crazy schedules of our guest appearances, but she handled everything incredibly well — a little “pro” already!
A couple of weeks after we returned from dancing in New Orleans (along with Renan Cerdeiro and Jennifer Lauren at New Orleans Ballet Theater) we left town again for another exciting adventure – Eva’s first visit to the Big Apple and my first homecoming performance with my old ballet school, Once Upon a Time (OUAT), in 15 years. My parents (now Grandma & Grandpa Kronenberg) eagerly awaited their granddaughter’s visit, and the chance to see me dance again at home in Queens. (I don’t get up to NYC as often as I would like, so I tried to “kill as many birds with one stone” as I could). In addition to dancing with OUAT, I participated in a mini dance convention and taught a master class at New York Performing Arts Center in Point Pleasant, NJ. The students were terrific, and very eager to learn, which is a treat for any teacher. I was in great company, and was so honored to be teaching alongside tremendous talents like Broadway “Tap Dog” Anthony LoCascio.
The next day, we headed out to Richmond Hill, Queens for OUAT’s performance, where I danced excerpts from Coppélia as well as The Dying Swan. How nice it was to be welcomed home with open arms! It was if I had never left. My teacher, Teresa Aubel, hasn’t changed a bit, and being back in class with her reminded me of how very much of my success I owe to her. She was always such a wonderful mentor, and she helped shape the dancer that I have become in so many ways.
The performance was held in-house, in the school’s quaint black box theater, where a special surprise awaited — another one of my teachers would be contributing to the performance! Carolyn DeVore, Dean of Dance at my alma mater, Benjamin N. Cardozo H.S., came to see the show and brought her students from DeVore Dance Center to perform an incredible African piece. It was such a treat to see her again and have her meet Carlos and baby Eva.
The audience enjoyed the show tremendously, but I think Eva may have enjoyed it the most! Her expression was priceless! With a front row seat on Carlos’ lap, she was completely intrigued by the music and the dance. She opened her eyes wide, kicked her legs to the music, and even exclaimed “Mama!” with glee as I bourréed across the floor during The Dying Swan. When I wasn’t dancing, I was able to spy on her through a crack in the back drop and I couldn’t stop smiling, she was so adorable! When the African dancers came out, I was worried about how she’d react to the intensity and volume of the live drummers, but her smile just got bigger and bigger! (Since we’ve been back she has been super energetic and does this funny bouncing action with her hands in the air, fingers spread, and arms bent at the elbows. Call me crazy, but I’d swear she’s imitating the African dance)!
To end the afternoon, I engaged in an informal question and answer session with the audience, and signed copies of my book “So, You Want to be a Ballet Dancer?” , which was being sold at the entrance prior to the show and during intermission. There were some fantastic questions and topics brought into conversation, and I was so glad to have had the opportunity to meet so many young dancers in the making.
As busy and hectic as our visit to New York was, we still had a wonderful time and Eva made it through her grand adventure with flying colors. We are all glad to be back in Miami and Carlos and I are ready and anxious to start the new season. It’s always nice to get away, but when all is said and done, there is no place like home!