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How These Videos Were Made:

Barbara Ligeti met Romana Kryzanowska in 1972 at the studio set up for her to perpetuate Joseph Pilates work after he and his wife Clara died. On West 56th Street the atelier was beautiful and well endowed by a cluster of investor supporters including Actors Studio’s James Lipton and parents of the late Academy Award winning actress Jill Clayburgh. It was Jill who told Barbara about contrology aka pilates and the remarkable keeper of the flame, Romana Kryzanowska. But it was male model and entrepreneur S. Kalani Durdan who actually treated Ligeti to her first classes – with favored teacher of Romana’s, Lori Scandura.

Ligeti met Romana only in passing – saw her to be both formidable and adorably compelling at the same time. Romana opened the studio and worked from 6am until lunchtime. Ligeti more often came for lessons after work – as she was utilizing her skills as a trained dancer to create fashion shows for Pierre Cardin and thus kept traditional office hours. She spent her time straddling Cardin headquarters on 57th Street and 7th Avenue – and her apartment across the street in a walkup next to the Russian Tea Room – where her performer husband and others helped to take care of her baby Pia. Ligeti’s uncle in law was renowned dance impresario Paul Szilard – who also highly endorsed Joseph Pilates – telling Ligeti what Romana later reiterated – that George Balanchine had anointed Mr. Pilates as a “genius of the body”. Szilard supported and booked American Ballet Theatre – and later Alvin Ailey’s dance company – among others – and knew Romana as she had been a student of Balanchine's – who was sent to Joseph Pilates by the dance master to deal with an injury the young dancer sustained.

Ligeti has been practicing Pilates for over 45 years. But – it wasn’t until 2001 – after twin towers fell – that Ligeti got to really understand the intricacies of the practice – as she became very close to Romana for the following reason.

Donald Gratz and Basil Blecher – co-owners of Gratz industries – the only company granted the right by Mr. Pilates to manufacture pilates apparatus – had all of Joe’s specs – and developed an intimate relationship with Romana. Romana would check on all equipment manufacturing – making sure it conformed to her teacher’s specs.

Basil and Donald approached Ms. Ligeti – a longtime producer in many media – to create a biographical video of Romana as a gift to her for her 80th birthday which was technically June 30th of 2003 – though the celebrations began in 2002 right after her 79th birthday. Ligeti began spending serious time with Romana – ultimately traveling the world with her - from Takapuna, New Zealand, to Rio in Brasil, to London, Paris, Spain and more. Ligeti travel stateside too – from colleges and universities such as Goucher, to dance companies such as the Arlington Ballet, always with a camera in hand – sometimes with a crew – capturing wisdoms that ranged from meticulous descriptions of Joseph Pilates’ teachings to wonderful anecdotes about his life, that of his wife Clara, students, teachers and clients that filled Romana’s life as she went from being a performer – wife and mother – head of a ballet school and teacher of contrology/pilates – to her becoming the heir apparent to the legacy and work of Joseph Pilates.

Other folks who studied with Clara and Joe – of which only a couple are still alive – all took his method and gave it their own spin or hybrid. Except for Romana and Kathy Grant. For example, and most impressively, Mary Bowen, a Jungian therapist and sometime performer, melded pilates and psyche – marrying mind and body in a technique that is powerful and unique to this day. Mary, still very active, studied with Romana weekly for many years after Joe died – and got permission from Romana to open studios in 3 states – New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Ron Fletcher – who was much closer to Clara than Joe – created a powerful method known as the Ron Fletcher Method – incorporating the best of pilates and his knowledge of modern dance gained when he studied and performed with Martha Graham. Ron always sent royalties to Clara Pilates for the right to use the work.

Anyway there are wonderful stories about Mary, Ron, Corolla Trier (with whom Romana worked before Clara chose Romana to continue pilates after Joe’s death), Eve Gentry, and the revered Kathy Grant, also newcomer Lolita San Miguel who worked with Joe in the last six months of his life and his untimely death due to a lung infection owing to a fire in his 8th Avenue studio. Jay Grimes – who studied both with Joe and Romana – was always a constant companion and friend of Romana’s. Stories about all of these folks are featured in ROMANA ON PILATES THE LEGACY EDITION. And Jay Grimes actually appears throughout the documentary portions of the videos.

In 2018 – Ligeti will come out with a full length documentary on Romana where much more will be explored and revealed.

So – in the January of 2003 at the final Pilates Guild convention, on the Jersey Shore, Ligeti debuted a 20 minute video – a rich story about Romana’s life and her relationship with Joe and his work. So much more was shot – enough for a series – but that will all come later.

After Romana’s actual 80th birthday Basil and Donald along with Donald’s wife Roberta – co-ventured with Barbara Ligeti to film “the work” including all apparatus hosted by Romana. At first mat videos were made for a then important video distribution company called Goldhil. They commissioned this work and Romana and Barbara along with the Gratz team decided that all work on all apparatus should be filmed at the same time. Ligeti holds copyrights on all of this material – even that distributed by Goldhil.

A hand picked group of performers including Mejo Wiggin, Kath Ross-Nash, Moses Urbano, Jerome Weinberg, Michael Levy and Daria Pace (Romana’s granddaughter) were directed through hours and days of exercises exploring apparatus provided by Gratz at Ramscale studios – produced by Barbara and Jeffrey Altshuler. Romana and Barbara “conceived and wrote” these videos and Barbara directed.

Also – on one day – when the Wunda Chair was to be filmed extensively, Romana feigned an aching wrist – and suggested that her master teacher daughter, Sari Mejia Santos, teach that work rather than Romana. Sari too had studied with Joseph and Clara – from a very young age.

The making of these videos was a lovely moment of connection and collaboration of three generations of Kryzanowska issue – but also embraced teachers Romana loved – and a community and world she helped to fashion and fulfill.

This 6 hour set – ROMANA ON PILATES THE LEGACY EDITION – was thus born – filmed in 2003, mastered and first published in 2004.



A co-creator note from Barbara Ligeti – writer/producer/ director –

I knew Romana would live for many years after we filmed this work. I hoped she would live forever. However, I felt that making these films was urgent and timely - as all sorts of folks were making videos, pushing themselves to be “first generation teachers,” and basically attempting to eclipse Romana’s power. Romana had been in business with a number of entities- the last being Sean Gallagher and his operation – The last did not suit her and at that convention in 2003 she disbanded the Guild – calling it a “gilded cage” – She just wanted to continue her life’s work – unencumbered by those wanting to “crowd her space” (my words not hers).

I have so much more material which I would like to produce in the future. I filmed so much. I have only a few hundred sets of the Legacy Edition left out of many thousands initially made – and once they are sold there will be no more. I do understand that there have been some bootlegged versions of this set so I am glad that you have found me on the internet.

I did allow only a handful of folks - Mejo, Moses, Mari Winsor, Brooke Siler, and a few others to sell video sets that they purchased from me. Also my dear friend Siri Galliano has been a literal distributor of this material. For a time PILATES STYLE magazine was allowed to sell the work though I think now they have only a half dozen pieces left – no more to be had. Some folks in the marketplace have bought quantity of dvd sets and have every right to sell the individual boxes.

In 2018 I will publish remarkable tapes of Romana all over the world – telling wonderful stories. The filming includes Romana’s family. In 2002 we even filmed Thanksgiving in Texas with her son Paul Mejia and his family – precious insight into lives well lived – by high level create folks with real access to knowledge –

It was my joy that the initial proceeds from this series helped to buy Romana her mansion in Fort Worth Texas – right across from her son and his brood –

As you pour through this website – and the tapes – you will feel the palpable love I have had for Romana – who certified me – showed me the world in a way that I would never have experienced – but also taught me how to live in joy. She embodied charm and joie de vivre like no one else I have ever known or even met – and I’ve met a few…… And she gave me a wisdom embodied in a simple toast – one of two or three she favored while raising her inevitable ubiquitous glass of champagne –

“Salude y dinero – y tiempo para gastarlos” – of course her marriage and time in Peru (of which I have extensive tapes I am allowed to use by her estate) gave her a terrific command of the Spanish language – but what she was saying and said to me til the end was “Ligeti – the biggest gift we have is time – don’t waste it!!”

She didn’t waste a drop. At her memorial on September 13, 2013, folks flocked from all over the world and strained the walls of St. Patricks’ Cathedral. A turnout fit for a head of state or religion. Or a great great teacher – and she was the greatest.

Enjoy these videos and watch out for more material in 2018...


Barbara Ligeti – 310.800.0440
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