Kathy made up a Cat exercise for me after I complained about feeling tight in my hips from long rehearsals. This became Blossom's Cat. I still do Blossom’s Cat, it still feels good. Now the emphasis isn’t on stretching my hip flexors as much as it is to lift my spine. I do it a little different every time depending on how my body is feeling.
Blossom Crawford's Bio
Blossom Leilani Crawford is the owner and director of Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn, New York. She delivers her playful and powerful teaching methods that were developed during the 17 years she worked with Pilates Elder Kathleen Stanford Grant. Since then, Blossom has made it her mission to expose each one of her students, in the United States and abroad, to the joy and satisfaction that comes from intelligent exercise. She is known for her ability to seamlessly integrate Pilates lineages as the situation demands, and for her insight into Kathy’s work.
What made you go to KSG in the first place? How long did you stay?
I went to Kathy because I had a "bad back". I was 17 and trying to become a professional dancer, but I could barely extend my back. I started with her in 1993 as a student at New York University and learned from her until she died in 2010.
Did KSG ever make up an exercise for you? If so, what was it? Do you still do it?
Kathy made up a Cat exercise for me that eventually was called Blossom’s Cat. Kathy and I used to meet up early in the morning before I assisted her Matwork class at NYU. At the time the front of my hips were tight from long rehearsals from the day before so I was stretching.
Kathy asked me what was wrong with me and I complained about feeling tight. She simply sat in her chair and started guiding me through a stretch. I remember it feeling fluid maybe even thinking that Kathy had lost her train of thought within the movement.
A few minutes later we went downstairs to teach class. Matwork class often started with her Cats. At some point, she said to me, “Blossom, show them the Cat I made up for you upstairs” My mind drew a blank, I didn’t even know what she was talking about. I think she then reminded me about my tight hips. Assisting Kathy was sometimes like doing trust falls.
I got into a Cat position, listened to her cues and my body. Somehow Blossom’s Cat was born! She said it was going to be called the Tisch Cat (the NYU Dance Department was a part of the Tisch School of the Arts). Kathy said I wasn’t famous enough for it to be called Blossom’s Cat. I definitely didn’t become a famous dancer, she tried to call it the Tisch Cat a few times. Eventually it became Blossom’s Cat!
I still do Blossom’s Cat, it still feels good. Now the emphasis isn’t on stretching my hip flexors as much as it is to lift my spine. It is still a reflective and mushy (there must be a better word here than mushy) cat. I do it a little different every time depending on how my body is feeling.
Is there something in your movement practice or teaching practice that came from or evolved from a movement or an image from Kathy Grant?
There are too many to count or name! Most of all, she taught me to take responsibility for my body. I know more about it than anyone. She taught me to pay attention to this one body I get to have.
Do you recall a correction she gave to you? Or some comments she had about you and your body?
She would often say to me (and others), "Don't rehearse!" If you were mid exercise and did something wrong you could not start it again. You had to figure out a way to complete the movement. You had to take what you learned from your "mistake" the first time and then do it better. I loved that. In life, there is no rehearsal before the show.
Do you have a personal memory or story you would like to share?
One of the last times I was able to speak with Kathy, I was visiting her in the hospital. I had two children under the age of two and finding time to see her was hard. I remember bustling around her hospital room, looking for something to do, to clean, arrange whatever. At some point Kathy grabbed my arm and pulled me down to sit on her bed. She said “Blossom, sit down!” and we just talked. I don’t remember the conversation. I do remember that she said to me, “I had a great life, and I don’t regret a thing!”
When I left I called a friend, because I just realized that she was dying and that she wasn’t going to be around forever. I have few photos of myself with Kathy. Many of her students have few or no photos with her. Maybe like me, I thought she would live forever.
What do you think is an important thing for people to remember about Kathy?
Kathy was an interesting woman with opposing characteristics. For instance, Kathy Grant somehow managed to be true to the Pilates Method and at the same time she created her own complimentary exercises and way of moving. She was fun and serious about the work.
How do you think Kathy would feel about the current atmosphere of the Pilates world?
In one word, confusing.
If you could ask Kathy one more question, what would it be? Or is there something you wished you could say to her?
As the creator of these questions, I am now cursing the fact that I asked this question. I would ask her if she liked this blog.
How do you think Kathy would want to be remembered today? Or what do you think Kathy Grant's legacy is?
I think that Kathy would want to be remembered. She always thought it was a shame that young dancers didn't know about people like Katherine Dunham. Or that Pilates people didn't know Eve Gentry. I think she would like to be remembered for her contributions in Pilates and dance.