Last Chance Pilates Stance

Last Chance Pilates Stance

This just in from my favorite Pilates enthusiast in Scotland…you know who you are…

I wanted to ask you if I may, about the use of Pilates Stance…I think I have seen it suggested somewhere that it was a term and position introduced by Romana? Is that your understanding? Seems credible since she was a dancer.
Do you know what Jay says about this?

Boy oh boy, do I know what Jay says about this. Here’s a sneak peek of Inside the Pilates Studio: The Jay Grimes edition:

7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?
Jay Grimes: There are so many – can I have more than one? With the certification programs came a whole new language, and I hate most of it: powerhouse, scoop, ugh! But if I have to choose just one word I think it would be “Pilates stance.”

Jay maintains “there is no such thing as ‘Pilates stance’.” It is a made-up word. Joe didn’t make it up or use it. Joe simply looked at the way the bones hang on the skeleton. In the natural position of the bones the feet have a slight splay to them. It is for this reason we use the heels together-toes apart position.

It is the hang of the bones that creates the slight, quite narrow V position that is found in the Pilates method. It is not a ballet first position. It does not come from Romana. Romana was a ballet dancer and had a great love for ballet. In the years just after Joe’s death the Pilates Studio saw a great influx of dancers from both the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. The studio of this era, now under the direction of Romana and located at 56th Street, could perhaps be the origin of the ballet terms that exist today in the Pilates’ repertoire. Joe of course was not a dancer and reputedly disliked teaching most dancers.

Jay Grimes vehemently states that there were no ballet terms in Contrology. “It’s like going to a Japanese restaurant and ordering a steak and a baked potato.”

Personally I feel that the feet/legs/lower body is perfectly organized in this v-shaped position. It is true that there are bodies for which a parallel position of the feet is better. But the pressing together of the heels helps to knit together the entire line of the bottom of the buttocks down along the inner thighs and to the heels. Keeping the legs glued tightly together strengthens all the muscles that run along the insides of the legs and can give balance to the often overly developed outer thighs and hips.

Perhaps the term Pilates Stance emerged as a shorthand. Regardless, I have seen it written just as I have it in the previous sentence. Pilates Stance. This should not be interpreted as Pilates’ Stance. Punctuation matters. This heels together-toes apart position, while employed by Joe Pilates was not an invention of Joe Pilates, but rather an observation, which he did not label with the term ‘pilates stance’.

So. Skeleton Stance anyone? (please, NO.)

Andrea Maida

A native of Pittsburgh, Andrea began her study of the Pilates method in 2000. She holds two comprehensive certifications from Romana’s Pilates in New York and Excel Movement Studios in Washington, DC.  Andrea continues to study with numerous world-class instructors including Romana Kryzanowska, Jay Grimes, Sari Mejia-Santo, Junghee Kallander, Cynthia Lochard, and Kathryn Ross-Nash whenever possible. Andrea was privileged to be in the inaugural class of The Work at Vintage Pilates under the direction of Jay Grimes, 1st Generation Master Teacher and student of Joseph Pilates. 

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