Documentary #1251

The Eternal Flame

30 min - Documentary


Romana Kryzanowska (June 30, 1923 - August 30, 2013) whose training by Joe Pilates began at just 17 years of age, remained dedicated to the teaching of Joseph Pilates' Method her entire life, and her profound influence continues today. Pilates Anytime is proud to share with you this biographical film exploring the life of Romana Kryzanowska entitled “The Eternal Flame.” Romana’s life and legacy is rich and deep, filled with zest, love, celebration, and fierce loyalty. With this biography, as told exclusively by her family, along with supporting materials from other contributors, we offer you a glimpse into that rich life. We are honored to have worked closely with Romana’s daughter Sari Mejia Santo, and her granddaughter Daria Pace, to produce this initial video. In a second video, still in production, we will explore the profound influence Romana had on of her former students, themselves revered teachers in the extended Pilates community.

Romana's Timeline will give you a more detailed look at her life.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Jun 30, 2014
(Log In to track)


Read Full Transcript

[inaudible] [inaudible] I think you all like this. They act like they really like what they're doing. What makes you so wonderful? Romana Chrissa Nasca had an insatiable zest for life [inaudible] whether she was dancing for George Balanchine Teaching Pele's or hosting an impromptu gathering at her house, which she often did. Romana always exuded joy and vitality. Why were they running for those who knew her personally?

She taught people how to be better at everything, to strive harder, to love your work, to rise early spring into action, to perform each exercise as if you were on stage and have a glass of champagne every Friday to celebrate yourself and your friends from the hip to feel she was strong and innately powerful, but she had a twinkle in her eye. She loved to be mischievous and flirtatious too. She was a keeper of the [inaudible] legacy, which she has passed on to so many people with her dedication and eternal passion for quality. This is Roma [inaudible]. On June 30th, 1923 Romana Chris Oscar was born in Detroit, Michigan to Roman and Shari, Chris and Husky. She was an only child shy. Chris and ask his name was originally show picket when she married my grandfather, she was disinherited because she was a big, because she married a foreigner, believe it or not, my mother's side of the family are very old American family from the south and they always owned horses.

My Grandmother was actually born in Kentucky and they own horses, but when the cars came they um, my grandfather picot had to move where the cars were being made. That's why they moved to Detroit. My grandmother and my grandfather were both artists. My grandfather was teaching art at Ann Arbor and that's how they met. When my grandfather died, suddenly I think something to do with a heart congestion.

My grandmother sort of had a little bit of a nervous breakdown and she didn't want to deal with anything. Oh, my mother was devastated. I was just five years old, but I knew that there was something wrong. Sad. I remember pulling on the [inaudible] dress of my grandmother after Ramana's father passed away. Her mother moved them to Florida where they had family property. Florida in the late twenties early thirties was quite different than it is now.

Romana lived way out in the country surrounded by nature. She loved the outdoors, exploring the woods on their property and swinging from trees like Tarzan. It was pretty wild, so wild that my mother had to carry a gun to shoot the snakes because there were snakes, so they pretty much were hermits for a long time and they were surrounded by animals. They loved animals, always dogs and cats, but and one goat. My mother's favorite was a goat by the name of Winton to give her amount of more opportunities. Her mother decided to move from Florida to New York City where she had an art studio. I don't know who decided to put her into the Catholic school.

It could have been the influence of my, one of their for Chris Lenosky uncles, but I'm not sure that she went to Catholic school and she sort of took over with the nuns and made them put performance in song. They'd not intubate them, dance, and she was always a performer. She was always performing. My mother by that time knew that she wanted to dance, I guess, and my grandmother heard about Balanchine and so they audition and that's when she started going through the School of American ballet. The long hours of practice and performing for the School of American ballet eventually took its toll and Romana injured her ankle. Romana was faced with a decision the doctors wanted to operate, but she would never dance again. In an effort to avoid surgery. George Balanchine introduced Ramana to his friend Joseph [inaudible] to see if he could rehabilitate her ankle and get back to dancing.

Her first impression of Joe Peloton, the first class, she gave him all these exercises that had nothing to do with her ankle at all, so she thought he was a little eccentric that it worked. What happened, I believe is that Joseph, her ability immediately to understand his work and so he immediately, they synchronize their minds together and he just gave her all these things that we considered advanced and she did them like nothing. With all that in a very short period of time, one or two weeks at the most, he was back in density. Romana was just 17 years old when she met Joseph and Clara Polis. The year was 1941 little did she know that she would develop a lifelong relationship with glottis and would become a torch, pair, their legacy.

And you see [inaudible] is good for everything that done. That's why from the ballet dancers, this is so good. I wouldn't have known about this if an [inaudible] saying you must go to fill out [inaudible]. Romana trained with glottis for the next few years, often being his primary student model for his photos and film. This continued until 1945 when Romana met Peruvian businessmen.

My great uncle Bob Loma here, when my mother met my father, it's really a beautiful story. The three of the HIA brothers took over after their father died with the textile factory and all their lands that they produce their package between us and the wool from the sheep and uh, all of that was fun. And then go take it to the factory and check Toujeo. When my grandfather died, my father being the oldest of the three brothers came and he was in contact with Michael Brodigan, my grandmother's third husband, and there was a an open house on Saturday, like all Saturdays they had soup and beans and for all the poor starving artists. And my father was invited to come to that because he didn't have so much time to stay in America. He had to go back to Peru to business. But he came and then my mother had just come home from ballet school and her feet were almost bleeding from toe shoes and she was all dressed in white and her hair was down and he fell madly in love with it.

So the next day there was a big, huge bunch of flowers on the doorstep inviting her to be taken to the ballet. And I'm sure if he never knew anything about ballet. So that's how I [inaudible]. It started within months of meeting, they were married and Ramana and her family moved to Peru where Pablos family ran a successful textile business and was considered one of the wealthiest families in Peru. She had two children, her daughter, Shari Mahalia and son call me here. We always lived in beautiful palace, like houses, right in Meta Florida.

It was not as built up as it is today. It was very residential and I lived in beautiful big houses overlooking the Pacific. It was wonderful. I had a very wonderful life while in Peru Romana stayed in touch with Joseph and Claire The lattes and continue to teach Pele's in her home studio to friends and family. Romana spent 14 years in Peru and forever would maintain. They were the best years of her life. [inaudible] I think I mentioned before the three Makia brothers owned a lot of land.

We had a lot of us CNS, we had a big wolf factory and in the entities as well as offices in Lima. When the revolution came or the political change came, a lot of that was gone and it was a shock to my father because he was very patriotic that my mother was worried that we would what would become of us. So she decided to bring both our children to America and hoping that my father would follow. My father tried, but he, he was too much of a patriotic person. And uh, he came back and it was a split. It was my mother never really recovered. That was the only man she ever loved. In 1958, Romana moved to Orlando, Florida with her children, mother and stepfather, having contacts in New York and hoping to provide the best opportunity for Shari and Paul to follow their dreams in dance. They then moved to New York City.

One of the first things we did was go to Joseph Platas and my brother and I, we're not very tall, you know, there were, we were a small children that Jody saw us and he immediately called us the Palettas babies and he gave us a pat then. And I was shocked because I wasn't used to that kind of gentleman treatment. You know, my father and my step grandfather, they were all three piece suit then and very quiet and very dignified. And so this man was just go, went like that. And I nearly fell over accident. I remember being in shock, but he was a lovable man.

Joe Polite is my first impression was, uh, well it was, he had this chalk of white hair and a knight. It didn't move and didn't wear very much. So that was a little, another bit of a shock. And he also had, um, a very, uh, quite loud voice and a very thick German accent in order to provide for her children. She took on three jobs. She worked with Joe and Clara at the nine 39 studio. She taught a Corolla tree, our studio, and she began teaching ballet, the Clark Center. This was obviously Joe Polarez must've been painted before my, my mother went to Peru. This is Joe Palato coming out of the earth, a very natural, earthy guy like he was.

And this is Clara looking in her delicate, very delicate and prim proper way. She wore always a white uniform of nurse's uniform. She was originally a nurse. It was at this time, just the plots began to groom Ramana to teach the next generation of instructors. And My mother for a certain time was always at the studio learning from each client what Joe, how Joe treated each client and Clara. And that's how she learned. She was absorbing it. Everybody is different.

And what did do to this line of what did Joe do to this client and why? Without a notebook, she just absorbed it mentally and physically when to give a new, new, new exercise, not just to throw the mat. When are they ready? When is their mind and body ready to learn a new exercise? I think Joe and Clara looked at my mother as a daughter. She would come in and spend time with them.

They would go to their private little place where they lived right by the studio. At that time they were older, Joe and Clara. And uh, so she pretty much took over the studio. Oh, down. Stretch up. Yeah. Up. What do you think of that? Doesn't it look good?

Interesting. I've talked to lotteries for many, many years. Fair shits a dance chair and down Shane sent me New York City ballet and then later on I started to learn how to teach from Romana. She's the one who taught me how to teach. Before that, I was just doing it for myself as a dancer. Are you all alive? I don't hear her face lights up when she starts to teach and shoot video and the teaching stimulates her so she doesn't see me holding. She may be sitting out there this square, my mum sharks to teach.

And when you really teach this and do it well and you're teaching actively, it just stimulates you. It revs up your energy. [inaudible] Romana continued to work with Peloton right up until Mr [inaudible] died in 1967 at which time she took on the task of helping an aging Clara run the studio. When he died, Mr Balanchine's crying, no outcry a year or so later. The original studio moved from nine 39 Eighth Avenue to 29 West 56th street in New York City.

Romana continued to deepen her involvement in the running of Joseph [inaudible] former business. When the nine 39 studio changed its name to Plati Studio Incorporated and she became a 50% shareholder. In 1976 Clara [inaudible] died, leaving Romana the heir apparent and torchbearer of Joseph [inaudible] method. In the ensuing years, Romana increased her role at running the Pilati. She traveled the world, South America, Europe, Australia, and the United States sharing the depth of the teachings Joseph [inaudible] had entrusted to her.

She also contributed to the first modern book on plots, the Polonius method of physical and mental conditioning by Phillip Friedman and Gail Isen. She began to train other people to teach polities, most notably her daughter, Shari, who continues to teach and carry on Ramana's legacy. To this day, [inaudible] [inaudible] feel different. Who are you? What's your name? Bring your thigh to your chest. Not even a pin between you all the way out and all the way in and have some Pepin and you're putting me to sleep, but you have to make it a little more interesting. Otherwise we get bored. Mother's over and telling me to stop and if you don't, I'm going to stop yourself for you. Oh, stop complaining.

I mean, when Daria came along did you teach her? She learns from me. She was very good. She fell in love and sub south Florida and fell in love though. When you moved to Peru, same thing happened. Same like mother, like her and daughter. Yeah, she did exactly what I, I always knew how important my grandma was to people because she always had so many friends in so many people just looked up to her and loved her. I didn't really appreciate it until I was more in my college years and you know, have maybe graduated from college was when I really started to know that and be aware of that. They didn't really want me necessarily to become an instructor.

They wanted me to be an actress or something else. Um, but they were supportive of whatever I chose to do and I chose to do plottings and loved it. How it made me feel and how they were helping people. And I wanted to do that too. So when I told them that they brought me on and I had leave the home at six 15 and as a college kid, I did not like that in the town. I always like to tell this how my grandma, one time, uh, I was out all night with my friends until like four, five in the morning and my mother was getting ready to go downstairs with my grandma. My grandma called and said that she was on her way and I said, I can't come. Um, I'll come in later. And grandma basically said, well, if that Bret doesn't come downstairs by the time I'm there, don't bother coming in at all.

So I made it because it was important and I knew how important it was and I chose to make that commitment and I was going to make it. By the late eighties the owners of [inaudible] studio had changed hands a few times, but it was when we tie home a student of Romanos own the studio in 1987 that he and Romana implemented the first formalized teacher training program in which certificates of completion were issued. In 1989 we tie home's business highlight, incorporated closed and Romana along with the faithful support of her daughter, Shari move the studio over to druggist gym. My mother always had friends that took a drug o studio where we are now on 50 west 57th between fifth and sixth she took gymnastics there just to release herself and she would go on the flying trapeze and had a wonderful time there and she met Drago socially as well. I went to Dragos and I and my mother asked Drago if she could come and we started with a little space because he wasn't quite sure she knew us, he knew us socially, but it wasn't quite sure about the situation.

He was already established and here comes this Pilatos thing. My mother and Drago got along beautifully. Drag was just fantastic. They just had this enjoyment and this love of life and this wonderful ability to get people to feel good and drug also has that together. It was really a magical relationship. [inaudible] you remember the old days?

I like to do them, but I only did them with you. I remember we used to dance. Can you do it now? Yes. Okay. Start [inaudible] two, two, three, two [inaudible] when it comes to the name of Joseph Valadez, it was very important, my mother, for my mother to preserve it, Joe protected himself and for a fact there was people that he was very close and true and trusted and then turned on him and he got very, very upset. Of course, my mother, her dad went through the same thing when she had the studio here in New York. She owned the studio. She had very good business. She did fantastically, but then those very people that she trusted stole all her clients or actually took the Rolodex and call it stole, stolen.

There's so many people that took a few classes and then they say they were trained by Romana and some of these people, they took many lessons that they didn't even listen. They didn't even listen to her really correct real corrections. My mother knew it and even then she knew it that they would take advantage. There's so many different people doing that, but not all of you are doing jobs. They don't do to pull out these at all, but they call it, they call it.

It was here that she met Sean Gallagher, the man who in 1992 incorporated PyLadies Romana and Sean formed a business relationship that spent years trying to preserve Joseph Palladio's work by assuring that anyone using the term Polonius in their business had been taught by Ramana or had gone through her training program. This eventually led to the trademark lawsuit that began in 1996 and lasted until October of 2000 Sean Gallagher lost the trademark lawsuit making Pilati is a generic name. Soon after the loss Romana split from Sean and in 2003 Romana formed her own certification program with her daughter, Shari and her granddaughter Darya. Now the studio is, is officially called a triple as New York. We call ourselves Romanos is because of the legacy my mother gave.

She gave more than half her life do this. That's why we call it Romanos Polarez. Her personality was that of helping people feel better, feel happier, and you cannot feel happier if your body is not quite right and if your mind is not quite right and she had a neck for putting their minds and their bodies right. Doing Great. How are you? We had a session that great. Yeah. Are you happy? Yes, very happy. Very good.

We all need to be home happy. Yeah. I've had a lot of movies today. Oh, wonderful. Monica, and she's taking it a little easy because we're expecting another member of the family very soon. [inaudible] to Ramona family. Loyalty and integrity was everything she considered the preservation of Joseph [inaudible], her lifelong mission. She knew what she was committed to and stood for those things without waiver throughout her life.

[inaudible] [inaudible] yes. Ramana was larger than life, too. Most. She was a force of nature, a healer, a teacher, and a torchbearer of glottis whose own flame ignited the flame of countless others and she understands, don't you? So now I'd like to go back and up. See what I'm doing now. Reach forward and take a time. Pull it, pull it, buys together x sale. Well then relax your legs. Okay.

God knows. How are the, how are your students? Everything was very interesting. Take your why and what you're doing. Yeah. And you can work. Yes. I taught them what I did within month. It's a celebrating her 90th birthday. My great aunt Romana passed away peacefully on August 30th, 2013 and the comfort of her son's home in Texas surrounded by her family.

Uh, if Romana was sitting next to you now, what would your conversation be like? My grandma was the first person after Chris, my husband that I told him that I was pregnant. She didn't know. I don't think she knew. I had to tell her and I had her touch my belly. I mean, it was very emotional.

I would have loved her to have met my daughter, but my daughter will know her because so many people know her and honor her. And that's the most important thing in terms of course of plot is if I had a conversation with her today, I can only tell her that my mother and I and the people that she loved that love her. We will do everything we can to preserve the work that she learned from Joseph and Clara potty. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].


Reiner G
5 people like this.
Thank you Pilates Anytime for this wonderful documentary and all the work you have invested in this. This was great to watch and for sure very emotional.
Excellent. Thank you for making the history of Pilates available to us. x
2 people like this.
Absolutly beautiful!
3 people like this.
This addition to the legacy project was definitely worth the wait. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman and her family. Thank you for sharing for all of us to remember and appreciate a lifelong commitment to what so many of us take for granted.
2 people like this.
Beautifully done - a perfect birthday commemoration. Thank you.
Erica V
2 people like this.
Thank you all for this beautiful tribute!
so beautiful! Monica just stunning- so heartfelt
4 people like this.
I am speachless... Many many thanks to you all. I was wondering if it is possible to combine all this to a one BIG documentary:)) also the music choice was so good. Love you PA...
Thanks for watching everyone. It means so much to receive this kind of feedback given several of you knew Romana intimately. Kathi we can't wait to show the next portion of the Romana's legacy where we focus on some of the great teachers like yourself that she influenced. Should be within a couple of weeks!
Just beautiful!
Made me feel so proud to do what we do... and to keep trying to be better all the time.
1-10 of 38

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin