Clara Pilates and her Christmas trees

Christmas trees in Manhattan (photo: Eva Rincke, 2014)

Doing research for a book you find all these whimsy details that are not exactly relevant for your topic, but you still keep thinking about them. For me one of those is Clara and her Christmas trees.

In Bruce King’s Obituary for Clara Pilates in Dance Magazine I learned that she liked trimming Christmas trees – not only at home but also in the studio.

“Every year she trimmed the Christmas tree in the new studio, continuing the tradition she had established in the old one.”, Bruce King wrote.

This little detail fits very well with how those who were working out in the Pilates studio were remembering Clara: her emphatic way of teaching, her presence, the way she poured oil on troubled water after Joe Pilates’ outbursts in the studio. Of course this woman loved trimming Christmas trees!

For me Bruce King’s memory also brought to light another part of Clara character: her determination. When the studio moved from the old building on 8th Avenue to new premises on 56th street Clara was 89 years old. She almost couldn’t see anymore, walking was very painful. But still she insisted on trimming the Christmas tree herself. A resolute old Lady!

Probably the story came to my head just now, because there are two little Christmas-tree-trimmers bustling about in our flat. My kids are much younger than Clara in the 1970ies, but they are just as determined about taking on the tree and preparing the world for Christmas, no matter what. Wait a few days? No, please Mom, let’s start NOW! I won’t be able to keep them back much longer. Then we’re going to take the tree inside to the living room and start trimming away! Nothing’s gonna stop us, we’re just like Clara!

A wonderful Christmas for all of you – with or without a tree! And above all: a Healthy and Happy New Year!




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