Excerpt from 25 Transitions © 2011 Dancer Transition Resource Centre. Photo: STOTT PILATES® photography © Merrithew Corporation.
Birthplace: Peterborough, England
Principal Training: The Rambert School of Ballet, The Russian School of Ballet
Danced with: The Toronto City Ballet
Retrained in: Pilates
Currently: Executive Director, Education for Merrithew Health & Fitness™
Ballet became a constant in my life after starting lessons at age five in Bermuda. At 15, I was very lucky to be accepted by The Rambert School of Ballet in England. So I left Bermuda – where I was recognized as a dancer – for London, now just one of many very talented dancers. This was a huge learning experience for a girl from a small island. I was soon offered a position with The Toronto City Ballet, a small company, but we danced all the time. That was all that was important to me.
Ultimately, I was forced to say good-bye to what I thought was my entire identity – dancing – due to a chronic foot problem. During my last year dancing, I met my husband, Lindsay Merrithew, who was attending the Juilliard School in New York and pursuing an acting career. Friends put me in touch with Joysanne, who was starting a transition centre for dancers who could no longer dance. But I still wasn’t sure what this next chapter of my life would look like.
Back then, there were no specific conditioning methods for dancers that I was aware of – and I had always felt there was a big gap between being injured and getting back into performance-ready shape. I learned about Pilates – a unique method of exercise that many dancers in New York were using for exactly this reason. With assistance from the DTRC, I went to New York to train with Romana Kryzanowska at the original studio founded by the late Joseph H. Pilates.
Upon returning to Toronto in 1987, Lindsay and I set up shop in our cramped one-bedroom apartment. Karen Kain was one of our first clients. In collaboration with various physical therapists, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals, we dissected and re-connected this unique form of exercise into a comprehensive, systematic, contemporary approach to the original teachings – the basis for STOTT PILATES®.
When Toronto Life Fashion published a story on Karen Kain's use of the regimen, we were swamped with clients overnight. Our life instantly changed – and along the way we also had two beautiful children Olivia and Michael.
Today, there are over 100 STOTT PILATES Training Centers around the world and more than 30,000 students trained in the method.
Helping dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers since 1985.