Joseph Clara Pilates Studio today
New York, 8th Avenue and 56th Street, an old low-rise building surrounded by skyscrapers, noisy cafes where cigars are still manually twisted in the neighborhood. Central Park is within easy reach. Life is in full swing, people pass by, not paying attention to an old house, where windows are comfortably burning, and dancers, opera singers and other artists gather in spacious halls. You will not even find signs at the entrance. Not a single word, sign or hint about what happened here half a century ago. This is what the studio looks like today, where Joseph developed his method, taught people to him, and they transmitted and pass on knowledge to future generations.
Every day people come here from different parts of the world, for whom crossing the threshold of this building means so much. These people, Pilates teachers, have come a long way just to touch the railing of the stairs that Joe went up to his studio to breathe in the air of this place. Here, on the second floor, was the studio of Joe and Clara, their modest living room. Bruce King and Hannah Sakimirda huddled in the neighborhood. Life and work were an inseparable whole for these people. There was a special world, with its own rules and regulations. This place remembers all the Pilates Elders, all of Joe’s clients, including many celebrities. This place retains the spirit of those times.
We go inside, climb the old creaky ladder to the second floor. Open the door.
The usual corridor, doors, cabinets. From reliable sources it is known that now there is a photo studio on the site of Joe’s studio. There she is. A tiny room that would not contain everything that we see in old photographs. Further down the corridor are quite large halls. They are rented by various creative teams, because Broadway is nearby. One sign opposite the photo studio is noteworthy: Rolates Pilates. It is impossible not to peek.
Entering the room, we meet the hospitable hostess of the studio, Roberta Rose Kirchenbaum. We start a conversation. The conversation is laid-back, meaningful. Roberta kindly answered all our questions.
In her opinion, it is now not so easy to say specifically in which part of the floor Joe’s studio was located, since a building with more than 100 stories has survived several fires, redevelopments and repairs. It is known for certain that on the whole floor there was one bathroom and a toilet and all who were located here used this particular node. The rooms and halls changed their configuration several times. The windows captured in the photographs of Chuck Rappoport are the opposite side of the building, opposite the Rolates Pilates studio. Roberta opened her studio in 2005, she did not advertise this event, and now she practically does not advertise the studio. Earlier there was a dance school, which she once attended. Then the floor plan looked completely different. Since then, the floor has been repaired several times, changed the layout. What we see now is very different from the layout at the time of Joe. But the columns, windows and some batteries remained the same.
In the studio, Roberta is a daily pilgrimage for people who just want to stop by, see, take pictures. Roberta thinks this is great!
“I have the opportunity to communicate with people from different parts of the world without leaving the studio,” she says smiling. Different people come here. There are those who behave somewhat unceremoniously, but basically everyone understands that this is a studio, not a museum, and they sign up for classes, and not just take pictures. This is good, because the studio must survive and make money. ”
In my opinion, this is a great opportunity, not just to see the building where Joe worked, but also to have the opportunity to work out under the guidance of an experienced teacher Pilates in this wonderful place. Roberta studied with Carola Trier, Romana Kryzanovskaya, Yves Gentry and many others. I thank her for her occupation and hospitality. And also for the opportunity to show our readers studio photos.
I didn’t want to leave! But Robert is a busy person, there are a lot of clients, the schedule is quite tight, so if you are in New York for just a couple of days, then it is better to make an appointment in advance, especially if this is a personal lesson.
Today, there are many Pilates schools, teachers, and devotees in the world. There are disputes and disagreements, different views and interpretations of the method, but all roads lead to this place, on 8th Avenue, where it all began.