Pilates Master Kathy Grant died on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 89 years old. A student and protégé of Joseph Pilates, Grant taught the Pilates Method for more than 50 years. Grant was trained and certified by Joseph Pilates in a program sponsored by the State of New York, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
On faculty in the department of Dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Grant’s program of work reflected her unique style, intuitive genius and intense precision. She was more dedicated to the work than any Pilates teacher I have ever met.
I met Kathy in 1983, and the bond that we formed was both professional and personal. She was my friend, my mentor, my teacher and at times my student. On occasion she would appear at a workshop I was leading and say, “Teach me something. I just want to be a student.”
With that openness to learning, she was always seeking knowledge. She often asked me, “Do you know your Pilates?” The answer was always, “No, I do not know my Pilates.” “Good,” she would say. “Because when you think you know Pilates, you should stop teaching. It means you are not present with the person in front of you. It means you are presupposing what that body needs. And how can you be a good teacher if you are not present and in the moment? How can you be a good teacher if you are not continuing to learn something every time you teach?”
Grant taught with a keen sense of the body. She could make corrections from across the room without even looking at her students. She said that she could hear the rhythm of a movement and know if it was coming from your center.
Both in the studio and out, Grant lived a life filled with passion. She had strong opinions, a unique sense of humor and a drive for excellence in everything she did. She touched so many lives–when you were in her presence, it was impossible not to get caught up in her energetic spirit.
The morning after I heard of her death, I had to teach a workshop. My day was bittersweet because most of the day’s lessons I had learned from Kathy Grant. But as I taught, I felt her presence strongly. At the end of the day, I told my class about her passing. With tears in my eyes but strength in my heart, I will always keep her work alive by being present in my teaching.
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