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Pilates Elders – Kathy Stamford Grant

Pilates Elders – Kathy Stamford Grant

Kathleen Stamford Grant was a dancer and a first generation Pilates instructor.

“Life is a collection of experiences, the things we have done the way we have lived, the people we have met who challenged, guided and shaped our views. An extraordinary life is one where we pass on what we have learned with generosity, passion, vigour and honesty.”

Born 9 August 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1930, Kathy began taking Ballet lessons at the Boston Conservatory of Music and spent her summers studying Ballet at Carnegie Hall, New York.

Kathy moved to New York in 1945 aged 24 years and took a job as a chorus girl and dance captain at the Zanibar Club.  Two years later she joined the first integrated broadway show in the cast of ‘Finian’s Rainbow’.  She travelled abroad in 1949 to dance in Spain and Italy with Claude Merchant and dancers.

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In 1953 Kathy returned to New York and danced with Arthur Mitchell and Donald McKayle.  She performed in ‘Four Vignettes’ and one year later she was referred to Joseph Pilates by Pearl Bailey after knee surgery.

1956 saw Kathy return to dancing, performing in ‘Her Name is Harriet’, ‘Kiss me Later’, and ‘Carmen Jones’ in New York.

She started working with Carola Trier as a Pilates instructor at the suggestion of Arthur Mitchell in 1957.

Kathy continued to work with Donald McKayle and company and went to Italy and performed in ‘Call her Moses’. Later in 1960 she became assistant choreographer to Donald McKayle and Walter Nicks.

She was married in 1963, aged 42, to Jim Grant, Attorney at Law.

In 1964, Kathy and Lolita San Miguel approached Joseph Pilates for certification to teach his work after completing 2,200 observation hours, the only two ever certified.

Kathy stopped working for Carola Trier and travelled to West Africa as a cultural consultant with Harry Belafonte and Walter Nicks and became the director of the Clarke Centre for Performing Arts in 1967.  She became the Administrative Director of the Dance Centre of Harlem where she taught Mat Pilates classes and jazz in 1970.

Kathy was the first African-American to join the National Endowment for the Arts panel and left the Dance Theatre of Harlem and ran the Henri Bendels department Store Pilates studio in 1972 aged 51.

1988 saw her move to the Pilates studio at the Tisch School of the Arts at the New York University and in 2003 she received a lifetime of Achievement Award for the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Centre in Brooklyn. and began teaching master classes at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference.

At the age of 85 in 2006, Kathy gave a lecture at Balance Body ; Pilates on Tour in Long Beach, California.

Kathleen Stamford Grant died 27 May 2010, aged 88.

We thank her for her contribution to the Pilates industry and dance community.

 

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