Welcome to part two of my little blog series of my NYC trip. So, following on from my experience with Deborah Lessen in SoHo, we now go across the Brooklyn bridge to, quite possibly, the sweetest studio I think I have ever seen.
I caught the subway to Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge) in Brooklyn, and made the short walk through the cobble-stoned streets and found my way to Blossom Leilani Crawford's studio Bridge Pilates.
Bridge Pilates is tucked away in a picturesque pocket of Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn. The space is so Blossom, its stylish, friendly and distinctively Brooklyn. What I love most about the studio is the small bench out the front, perfect for just hanging out after class chatting, laughing and sipping your coffee from the cafe on the corner - with the nicest waitress in the world!
Blossom is a well known protègè of Pilates elder Kathleen Stanford Grant. Kathy was an amazing woman and teacher, who was also known to have a sharp wit, and an incredible eye. Kathy was one of only 2 people ever to be certified by Mr Pilates himself and received her certification after 2200 hours under the New York State Rehabilitation Program at Joseph Pilates gym of Physical Rehabilitation/Contrology.
Blossom first met Kathy in 1993 as a freshman at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, who would become her protege and close assistant for 17 years. Kathy is what we refer to a first generation teacher, or Pilates "elder" as defined by someone who has studied directly under Mr Pilates himself.
Kathy saw something in Blossom and requested that she serve as her assistant and Pilates demonstrator for her morning Matwork class at NYU. Kathy then advised Blossom to formalize her training and get a teaching certificate under private study with Pilates elder Romana Kryzanowska.
Blossom remained as Kathy's demonstrator at all major Pilates events, conferences and classes right up until Kathy's passing in 2010. Blossoms body of work is extensive and takes reference from all styles and lineages of the Pilates method.
Blossom took us through our paces - we worked on all apparatus, we tried new variations of Blossoms, and also Kathy's specialized repertoire that she developed. What I loved the most was when Blossom took me through some of the Wunda Straps repertoire that Kathy pioneered - if you were lucky enough to catch Blossom in Sydney, you would have experienced the Wunda Straps repertoire in one of her workshops.
Blossom has just developed her own Wunda Chair manual and repertoire posters, and I was lucky enough to be put through some of the repertoire from Blossom. What was the icing on the cake, was the chair I was using was actually from Kathy's studio, built for her by Mr Pilates himself. I just felt so privileged to work with Blossom, her jovial personality kept me laughing and inspired throughout my sessions with her. She is just such a formidable force, and has the most amazing sense of humor!
When Blossom teaches, she works with the body in front of her and also has the ability to draw on the various lineages of her training, while also drawing on Kathy's work. Kathy always had a respect for all styles of Pilates and encouraged Blossom to create a space where this is practiced and honored. Blossom keeps the spirit of Kathy alive in the studio where she practices the method with respect to all styles of Pilates and lineages, to create a distinctively "Blossom" experience. I love this blend of the lineage with a fresh perspective and constant development.
I also completed a few Matwork classes with Blossom at the Mark Morris Dance Centre in Brooklyn. The Matwork is an area, for myself, that I need to work more on. The repertoire is amazing, and the hour just zooms by when your in a Mat class with Blossom. Her cues and variations of the work allowed me to feel the exercises at a deeper level - I can tell you it was a real workout!
The main takeaway from my week with Blossom is to not take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the work and allow yourself to make mistakes, but to also have respect for the work from those who came before us.
Thanks for reading, see you next time!