For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with 10 remarkable and talented people – I call them the Perfect 10. All of them were former professional Dancers and Pilates Teachers. I feel honored to have had dance as my first career and now following in their footsteps as a Pilates Teacher.
Lolita San Miguel
These are our Pilates elders. Original students of Joseph Pilates – first generation teachers. All of them went to Uncle Joe to get fixed and fell in love with his practice. I would like to applaud, honor and celebrate just a few highlights of their lives. If I wrote everything they contributed to the Dance and Pilates community it would be a novel.
Romana Kryzanowska was 17 years old studying at The School of American Ballet when she suffered an ankle injury. George Balanchine the artistic director took her to see if Pilates exercises could help instead of having surgery. She continued to study Pilates and “Before I knew it,” she said, “I was named a helper, which meant I didn’t have to pay anymore.”
Robert Fitzgerald was a professional Dancer who studied with Joseph and Clara Pilates. He went on to open his own studio in New York City that catered to the dance community.
Ron Fletcher not only danced with the Martha Graham company in NYC, he also performed on Broadway, television, cabarets and was the choreographer for the Ice Capades. He went on to open the Ron Fletcher Studio for Body Contrology in Beverly Hills.
Eve Gentry was a modern dancer. Martha Graham saw her dance and offered her a scholarship to her school in NYC. Miss Gentry danced with Hanya Holm’s New York company and later founded her own company, the Eve Gentry Dancers. She taught for Mr. Pilates at The Pilates Studio and Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Jay Grimes danced professionally in Ballet and Broadway for over 18 years. He started teaching Pilates in his home in Beverly Hills and said he trained more Hollywood bodies than personal trainers. He also taught at Estrela Pilates in Beverly Hills. He is the director of Vintage Pilates.
Bruce King was a dancer with the Merce Cunningham company and the Almyn Nikolis Company. He also formed his own company the Bruce King Dance Company. Mr. King opened his Pilates Studio in NYC.
Carola Trier was a dancer, acrobat and a roller skating contortionist. An injury introduced her to Pilates. She opened her own studio in the 1950’s and then assisted Dr Henry Jordon with patient rehabilitation and research at NYC’s Lenox Hill Hospital.
Lolita San Miguel, like Romana, studied at the School of American Ballet. She danced professionally with Franklin Ballet Company, Joffrey Ballet and the Ben Harkarvy Ballet. In 2005 she retired as artistic director of Ballet Concierto and has dedicated her time to teaching the Pilates Method internationally.
Kathy Grant lived a full life as a professional dancer, arts administrator and Pilates Teacher. She studied Ballet at the Boston Conservatory of Music before moving to New York City. She graced the stage at the world known Zanzibar, Club Ebony and the Broadway companies of Finian’s Rainbow and Kiss Me Kate. She was the director of the Pilates Gym and taught at New York University Tisch School 0f the Arts.
Mary Bowen was an actress, comedian and a Musical Theatre performer. She found out about Pilates from a newspaper article. In the article Joseph said “He based his method on a baby and a cat.” She said he was pictured in little black swim trunks and bare-chested. She had to meet this man, and went on to study with him twice a week. She also became one of the Perfect Ten.
These 10 amazing Dancers and Pilates teachers have had a huge impact in the Dance and Pilates community throughout the years. Joseph Pilates died on October 9, 1967 and never really got to experience what we are experiencing today. I wish he were here today to see his wonderful work. I believe he would be very happy – now you can find Pilates all over the world. Uncle Joe was was truly ahead of his time. I’m very proud to be a Pilates Teacher – I’m part of the new generation.