Brianne

IMG_3685A life-long student of movement, I am interested in the ways bodies convey meaning, how they interact with their environments, and how they come to be understood from the vantages of both art and science. I was raised within the realm of classical ballet, where the method of Pilates always played a role. After sustaining a spinal injury early in my career as a dancer, Pilates took on new and profound significance. Inspired by the ways that this method healed and brought life back to my own body, I attained my Comprehensive Certification through Balanced Body and began to work with others. I am particularly animated by Pilates’s numerous inventions, each of which offer a unique translation of his various exercises, providing the mind and body with new ways of understanding and performing the Pilates method. Moreover, these intriguing technologies are seemingly universal, accommodating any and every body, regardless of health, illness, injury, age, or activity-type. I am thus fiercely dedicated to the ways in which the body and his machines meet and collaborate to facilitate movement and well-being.

While in many parts of the US, Pilates has been taken up enthusiastically and integrated into everyday routines, in Germany, this practice is less popular.  I think this is starting to change as people come to realize its advantages for both preventative care and its ability to heal. Equipment-based Pilates has been particularly slow to migrate back to Germany, but I think if the rhythms of Mat-work supply the heart beat of Pilates, the type of work supported by the machines is its soul.

I find the technologies of Pilates to be quite compelling, in that they offer the body and mind a different experience of the Pilates method. Using varying spring tensions, Pilates designed his machines to require the body to move with a certain purpose, and for me, this is an invitation to think differently about not only how I perform Pilates but also how I go about my day-to-day activities. I love teaching  these technologies and the body awareness they inspire to others. By working within the context of a one-on-one environment, we can dive deeper into understanding the Pilates method more generally as well as address specific problems, injuries, or working to attain a particular goal. The machines are also incredibly diverse, allowing me the ability to work with a range of bodies, from athletes at the peak of their career to aiding in the rehabilitation process for those who have been injured or ill.

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Beyond my interest in learning and teaching this method, I have become increasingly drawn to the history of Pilates, from its inception during his time as a prisoner of the First World War to its adoption in the most famous ballet studios in New York City. I have thus pursued the history of Pilates as part of my doctoral thesis in the Department of History at Vanderbilt University, where I am a historian of science, technology, and medicine in the context of modern Europe. In particular, I am interested in the connections of Pilates and other German body cultures with the artistic communities at Hellerau—and Dresden more generally—in the first half of the twentieth century. I am delighted to be a part of the Pilates community at CARDEA, actively participating in the beautiful legacy that he left behind.