I studied dance at The Juilliard School in New York City and received my BFA there in 1992. Although I studied to be a performer, I quickly found myself enthralled by the inner workings of the art form. For more than three decades I dedicated myself and my profession to supporting artists such as Merce Cunningham, Stephen Petronio, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Juliette Binoche, Ivo Van Hove, Robert Rauschenberg, Charles Atlas, Mark Seliger, Daniel Arsham, Ferran Carvajal, Taylor Mac, Sigur Ros; and arts institutions such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce New York, UCLA Royce Hall, Mercat de les Flors, Foundación Antoni Tàpies, Merce Cunningham Trust, John Cage Trust, Barbican London, Dia:Beacon, Walker Arts Center among others as producer on a variety of projects.
In 1998 I began working for the American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, then aged 79. At that time Cunningham already required support walking. Initially this was the use of a companion’s shoulder - often my own - and later a cane. In his final years he was virtually confined to a wheelchair. We often dined together, and it was in his and the composer John Cage’s kitchen that I learned to cook. Accompanying him from the studio to his home, to performances, meetings, press junkets, and on tour meant that I was often the shoulder supporting him or pushing his wheelchair. In short order, I began experiencing the uncomfortable physical effects of HIS aging on MY body. Physical therapists, osteopaths and chiropractors were always helpful, but they seemed to be short-term solutions to what could easily become a long-term problem.
My first introduction to Pilates was at 17 while living in Miami at the loft of Dale Russel, the physical therapist for the Miami City Ballet. My bed was adjacent to a Pilates Reformer and Cadillac and I left my backpack with tights and leotard on top of the Wunda chair when I came home at night. While at Juilliard, I saw first- hand the benefits of Pilates on another group of athletes — the New York City Ballet dancers with whom we shared dance studios. The year prior to becoming aware of my own physical decline from assisting Cunningham with all his comings and goings, I was researching and developing a Well-Care Program for the dancers in Cunningham´s Company. Through that work, I came to see Pilates as my salvation and over the course of the next 30 years, I booked private classes for myself in New York City and around the world. I often wonder what Merce’s physical condition might have been if he had augmented his dance practice with Pilates, the therapeutic movement-based method adopted by so many other dancers and choreographers at that time.
I suppose that becoming a professional Pilates instructor was inevitable for me. The touring life and managing grand scale productions still appeal to me, but working in Pilates, one client at a time, gives me a greater sense of satisfaction. To help someone achieve greater potential on their own merit, offer an extra set of eyes, and introduce a movement practice based on decades of exploration by Joseph Pilates, is exhilarating.
AligaPilates is named for the painting by Robert Rauschenberg that Cunningham left me in his Last Will and Testament. It features at its center an Eagle (àliga in Catalan). Through the generosity of Katherine Hayes, this artwork sparked the birth of AligaPilates. Manel Landete and I are deeply grateful to Katherine, we are also indebted to support from other friends such as Kathleen Fluegel, Fabien Menegon, Fernando Ansorena, Maria Masot, Kevin Taylor, Valentina Sutovsky, Ferran Carvajal and all of our dedicated clients.
We hope to see you soon