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Pilates & Dance Communities Celebrate Kathleen Stanford Grant

By Amy Leibrock

It was a full house at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York Monday night as members of the Pilates and dance communities gathered to pay tribute to Kathleen Stanford Grant (1921-2010), a first-generation Pilates teacher who studied directly with Joseph Pilates and taught the Pilates method for more than 50 years. The celebratory evening was filled with laughter, dance, music and stories about the life and spirit of this multi-faceted woman who “dedicated her life to making all others dreams come true,” as Sarita Allen, one of her students, said. The celebration began with an African drumming processional and was followed by a mixture of dance performances, video footage and almost a dozen speeches from family members, students, colleagues and friends. For those who weren’t able to make it, I’d like to share some highlights from this special evening.

Pilates Community Invited to Honor Kathy Grant

On Monday, September 27, a memorial service will be held in honor of Kathleen Stanford Grant at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City. Kathy, a first-generation Pilates teacher who taught for more than 50 years, passed away in May 2010.

The organizers of the memorial, Blossom Leilani Crawford, Cara Reeser, Keith Sabado and Sarita Allen, cordially invite the Pilates community to join them in celebrating and remembering Kathy Grant. If you would like to share a memory, they will be creating an album for Kathy’s family. At the memorial they will be collecting any copies of photos or written memories you would like to contribute.

Details:
Monday, Sept. 27
7:30pm
The Ailey Citigroup Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9056
1, A, C, B, and D trains to 59th St - Columbus Circle


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RELATED ARTICLES

My Friend Kathy: A Reminiscence
Kathy Grant: ‘A Magnetic Life Force’

Posted on Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:05AM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Kathy Grant: 'A Magnetic Life Force'

Pilates-Pro.com is happy to share another tribute to Kathy Grant from one of her closest proteges, Blossom Leilani Crawford.

By Blossom Leilani Crawford

I remember my teacher, mentor and friend as being a unique, magnetic life force. She was always a symphony of ideas and oppositions, expressing herself and her opinions at the expense of no one and nothing. She was tough as nails.

We met in 1993 when I was a freshman dance student at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Before I even met Kathy I heard that she would push the students, but that she would help me “find my center.” What I found was a woman whose incredible career as a dancer and arts administrator made her a Pilates teacher, and a person, like no other.

Kathy treated everyone with the same nurturing, iron hand and with an eagle’s eye on the details. She insisted on excellence, both from herself and from her students. She had a work ethic that never wavered - always arriving early and always wanting to do better the next time. Not better than anyone else, just better than she did before. 

I can remember just a couple of years ago - the subway outside her house was out of service, it was about 85 degrees outside and she was about 85 years old. No matter - she walked the mile to the next train station and got to her NYU class ON TIME! She always said, “I have no patience, but I won’t give up.” 

She is well loved and remembered by countless people from all walks of life. We students remember her now with a shake of our heads and a laugh - and many irreplaceable memories. She helped so many of us in a way that was completely her own. I think I speak for many of us when I say that she did help me find my center and so much more. There isn’t, and never will be, anyone else like her, and I miss her already.

 

Blossom Leilani Crawford had the great fortune to meet the late Kathy Grant, a Pilates Elder, in 1993 at the Dance Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where Blossom was a new dance student. In the ensuing years, Blossom had the honor of being a student, a teaching assistant and ultimately a protege to Ms. Grant. At the suggestion of Ms. Grant, Blossom was certified by Romanna Kryzanowska in 1999 and has since been teaching Pilates throughout New York City and around the country. Blossom owns Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn, NY, and teaches mat classes at the Mark Morris Dance Center.

 

My Friend Kathy: A Reminiscence

Kathy Grant and Lolita San MiguelThe Pilates community was saddened by last week’s news that Kathleen Stanford Grant passed away at age 89. A dancer, choreographer and protege of Joseph Pilates, Kathy taught the Pilates Method for more than 50 years, most recently at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Here is a touching portrait of this influential teacher from her longtime friend and fellow first-generation teacher, Lolita San Miguel

By Lolita San Miguel

There are certain relationships one makes which quickly and deeply evolve to form the unbreakable bond of true friendship that neither time, nor the distancing that personal or professional commitments usually cause, can ever shatter. 

Kathleen Stanford Grant and I had that type of friendship for 52 years. We would see each other after not communicating for months and pick up as if we had just seen each other the day before. 

I first met Kathy when in 1958 I suffered an injury, and upon the advice of Dr. Henry Jordan, a renowned doctor who treated injured dancers, I went to Carola Trier for rehabilitation. Kathy and Romana Kryzanowska were Carola’s assistants at the time. Kathy was a thin, muscular, ex-modern dancer with short-cropped red hair, freckles, polite and disciplined and already had that wonderful “eye” for corrections. My sessions were in the early afternoon, which coincided with Kathy’s shift.

Kathy and I had two additional strong bonds: dance and being very proud of our heritages. The 1960s and ‘70s were passionate years of change, and we both felt a responsibility to give to our people, she to the African-American community through Dance Theater of Harlem and her husband’s Broadway projects as a producer, and I to the Hispanic community in New York through the Puerto Rican Dance Theater and other Hispanic activities. Our training and background and the talent and privileges we had received gave us a strong social conscience. So these two “kindred spirits” became friends instantly and often we socialized and went to dinner with our husbands.

It was Kathy who gave me one of the biggest surprises of my life one day while we were talking in front of Carola’s studio at 200 West 58th Street in Manhattan. After many years as Carola’s client, I had decided to train as a Pilates instructor and possibly open my own studio and was about to finish my 6-month, 520-hour apprenticeship with Carola. I expressed my concerns to Kathy, however, for I didn’t feel ready to open my own studio and told her that I would just integrate Pilates into my ballet teaching.

Kathy casually said, “Why don’t you go to Joe’s?”        

“Joe who?” I asked back.

“Joseph Pilates,” Kathy said.