Discussion #1265

Suzanne Gutterson on Eve

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In this discussion, Suzanne Gutterson talks about what it was like to work with Eve Gentry, first as a dancer and dance teacher, then as a Pilates student and teacher. She shares some of the imagery that Eve used when she was teaching and how Eve was a tough but gentle teacher. According to Suzanne, Eve's greatest contribution was her Pre-Pilates work which she called Gentry Work. Eve was able to teach people how to move correctly and to let go of their pain. It is wonderful to hear from Suzanne how Eve's work made a great impact on her life.
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Oct 21, 2013
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I moved from New York to Santa Fe in the 60s, late sixties. And my daughter was in a class of e this and she was playing hooky. So I called eve and said, you know, I was so sorry, but she was dropping out and just sort of facetiously, I said, Gee, I'd love to take her place. And Eve said, well, why don't you now this is typical of eve. She'd never seen me. She didn't know if I knew my elbow from my ear. And so I came to the class, I'm with all these 18 year olds and they were pretty good.

We did some concerts and whatever. And then I took her, I was, this was her Hanya home class. And then she asked me to teach your guest's lesson. By this time she knew I could move a little. So I taught a jazz class cause I'd studied with Alvin Ailey and that group at the, um, [inaudible], um, in the 50s, eighth avenue or something, awful section. And, um, then she asked me if I would teach that class and then I start, she asked me to, cause I had studied, um, modern dance for children.

I'd had modern dance and I'd had children in a dance class and I was teaching them ballet and something was wrong. One of the kids came up to me one day and said, well, what are we going to dance? And I won't bill you are dancing deer, but it's not all that discipline is not right for everybody. So they had some tip of the top teachers at the y MHA in New York, Bonnie bird and I don't remember them. And I took their study with them, um, teacher's Ed and got into creative movement for children, which I, I just love because most of them aren't going to be dancers, but it gives them an introduction to movement and you can align up with a lot of the arts. So when I taught the children for Eve, we taught and f 22 photography studio and there were pictures all over the wall, Pho photographs, Laura Guilt Adams.

And so we could look at the pictures and then use those as ways to get moving. And so that was kind of great. And um, so that's how it was. Uh, she taught modern dance to the teenagers and adults. And I taught a called a modern American J as two adults mostly, and then the children. So we were always on the same page as far as we wanted to do when we'd have a showcase. I never wanted to put all parents to expense and put them in these expensive costumes.

And so we just handed them a prop or gave them a feather for an Indiana or whatever. And that was good enough. And we did it not on a stage, but right in the studio, which was swell. And then Eve's generosity. One time at a workshop, she stood up in front of the parents and she said, well, I've just promoted Suzanne to, um, assistant director for the studio. Well, what did that mean? They were just two of us there. But it was just her way of saying she appreciated me and, and she was such a generous person. Yeah. So that's how that started.

And I'd been, she at z dance studio and the Pilati studio were separate. The palati studio was a little studio next to her house and she was very busy in the summer with the opera. And she had some people come from California and she had some people with problems who came. But the bulk of what we did was at the dance studio. So then for one reason or another, I left Santa Fe and she said if I left, she was gonna close down the studio. So she did, but she was still doing polities. So we, she left Laura guilty ones.

And then round about after I left Santa Fe and I ended up in Albuquerque and I called her one day and said, do you think I could learn PyLadies? And she said, well, you know, half of it already. Cause she'd used it for warm up and in Hanya home. Yeah. And, um, I was going to massage school. So I went up by day and she taught me the vocabulary.

And then Dr Feldman came into the picture, cause I was back here. She had my, um, reformer made locally cause there was no place to buy one. So then I took the equipment back here and then she had done some work to help Dr Feldman and he knew the quality of what she did. I think she worked on his back and he began to send people and she got so busy, she said, will you help me? So I had done pilates and dance, but I hadn't done the correctives. So I learned from her with the studio was tiny and there were two mats and hers was next to mine.

And I learned more or less by Osmosis. And I guess I knew more than I thought I knew. Um, but you'd always learn more from her. And uh, then we, uh, so then I was commuting back and forth to, to teach at our studio and that sort of saved me cause I'd opened a studio here, but who, who was, who were my students, Dr Feldman sent me some students here who lived here, thank God. So that was sort of my initial bread and butter and people would come, they do massage. I would almost get on my hands and knees to beg them to do out and I just couldn't sell it. It was a hard sell. Well because it wasn't pop. Nobody had heard of it.

Everybody was doing jazz or size four to the right for the left and then the timing was right for something, a quality. I think people got tired of getting back and 80 people in the class, you know, you could be doing it like this. And a woman named Joan by Breitbart came a very aggressive lady from New York who had done marketing for gyms in New York and she turned to me and she said, you know, I'm going to put piles on the map. And I said, oh, that's nice. Well the next thing I knew we were in cooking line. Oh I bought 10 copies and the next thing I knew, we were in another magazine and we were in a paper.

Then we were in this than we were in that. Then I looked, there is Michelle and the newspaper there is somebody else. It just caught on fire marketing. It had been there all the time. Just sitting in New York in California. So it was interesting to have been there. And then it's funny because the man who was a cabinet maker who may buy reformer, he did a good job.

But then Joan and I don't know who all, I don't know if Michelle was in on that or not. It went to, I think it was an Indian reservation to try to have machines made and they use bungee cord. Well, people look at that and they say, Oh, you know, could I measure to have my husband come over? Yeah, let them try it. Many have tried. I've seen more terrible reformers than I've seen good ones with people who tried to do it on their own. So, uh, and even with the good ones, you get little squeaks and whatever. So I was very lucky that my first one worked out right. And then she had in plotty studio, the mat had a bottom to him so you could put your feet in.

So when you did the roll up or the saw, you were stabilized. And so mine had that, but it was about as heavy as the stable. So, I mean I had this heavy, heavy reformer and this heavy, heavy whatever. But since I turned my, I only had like one student at a time, it really didn't matter. I didn't have to move it around. So then little by little word of mouth and whatever helped to build up the studio. And then I was at the the right place at the right time when it began.

Got Pop. And my feeling is if anybody cares of its future, it's gonna go the way of yoga. The good teachers will stay, the quality is there, it'll be there forever and something pop will come in its place. You'll be cycling or I think what they're doing now is they do a lot of stations, something with the weight, something with the stretching, something with this little micro movements, whatever you gotta have a gimmick. My main plot, his teacher was always eve. And um, I took lessons with, with some other master teachers, but not enough to really say I was their student.

But I had a wonderful teacher here. Uh, who was Kathy Grant's studio, a student, I must think of her game because she's wonderful. And um, she did the button thing. She did the button thing, which I love and I man, and as Michelle Larson said once, I'm not ashamed to steal from anyone. So speaking of, I'm using someone else's technique, I'm, I said, remind me to tell you about the, the um, Angel Wings in the snow. I came back from a Felton graced class and I said to ea, you've gotta see this, you gotta see this. You know, they had spent a whole hour on that. So I have totally bastardized the, the movement and you know, that's really not the best way to teach it, but it's what I do cause I need to do other things. So, and I know it was Michelle because I was just doing this. He began to put pillows under people. You, someone told me did this, then I was in a class with someone else, I think who went to here or maybe I did it where you just work here and don't go back. And then this was, I looked at my notes and this was from the Feldon Christ thing too. So anyway, micro movement, which I really liked because sometimes I'll have, I'd have somebody who they couldn't move at all, everything hurt or they would stress their bodies. So, and if you sit, and if they had imagination, as eve said, plot is not for everybody as we all know.

And you could just imagine that your body is in this pan of water and that water is just, you can get them to do that. They begin to move. And Eve had another full, wonderful image of people who you tried to get them to move their neck, you know, and they're just really holding onto it. And do you remember that there was a paintbrush way, way up on the ceiling and that paint brush goes side, you know? And so it's not like you're going like this. It's like that paint brush is taking you and it really is lovely. So again, that as passive as you could, that's appellate as passive as you could get.

And if I had to have a nickname for what eve did, I would say learning to let go with people with pain, just let go and be and awareness so that you know, and I think the feedback that she would say, oh over and over to students was how does that feel? Because without a connection you're just doing something. And she would let me, like, she did a lot of wonderful things with the feet on the wall. And then I started doing some stuff standing up against the wall and peeling off the wall. And because I had somebody who we got dizzy when she laid down.

So I thought, oh, so I sat her up, you could sit against the wall and you know, do all this. And I thought, hey, you get really good feedback. It's better than lying down on the, on the floor. So then she said, Oh, you know, I really like that. And you know, and so we'd go back and forth. She might add something. I'd see something that she did. What I couldn't copy was how well she did with the pillows. We've talked about that on another occasion, the pillow, she squad, these people like all different sizes, all different sizes and what she could get out of them. I don't know.

It was magic. I couldn't do it. And I thought this is not for me. I think her empathy with the students, she really cared. So we would have lunch together after we taught in the morning and we would discuss the students and what they were doing and what we thought they needed and what we could, um, do in the future. But when the students came in, she had them stripped down like they do in to their bra and their underpants. And she had a blind, she pulled down and on the blind is this grid, you know, and they'd standing and you could see, you know, against the grid, uh, well what wasn't going in place.

And then she take these copious notes and, and she knew how to do, um, a lab, a notation. As a matter of fact, I think she helped develop it with lab on lab. Yeah. And, um, so I just draw kind of, I'd use ballet stick figures and jazz terms and half ballet terms and half, whatever all she'd do her role. But she very, very, she was very neat, very precise. And we've went on a picnic one time and she came, she had the salt all wrapped up. She had the pepper rule wrapped up. Everything was in a little little owl. I kind of, you know, through mine. So that was, that was a nice thing to be. I'm not, so I always admire someone who is just really, really precise, precise.

She loved [inaudible]. You'd go in there, she had this cutout picture Pilati standing there in his bathing trunks and she'd say, how old do you think he is? Well, always say like 10 years younger. When you thin you'd think somebody really is. And so I said, oh, 35 she said he was 80. I don't know what he was in his fifties or sixties Oh really? Oh, I think she added a few years every year. But she really adored that man.

And she said people would try to copy, he had kind of a gruff, like a big bear, I guess way of talking to people into the air, out with the air, et cetera. And she said, people who tried to imitate it, it just didn't work. It just sounded kind of mean. But people know that he cared. And I think people sense that whether you're just thinking they come in the door and, well, where's my four o'clock? You know? And they sense that and she sensed that about him. But when he took the, uh, video or movie of her, she said, I don't know why he had his hands on me so much.

He never did that in the studio that he's over correcting and he's bending me back. And maybe because he needed to do camera was running. I don't know. I've just wished we could have been there when he was around. Must've been very inspiring. Yeah. And so many things that I'm okay. He later, like the thing that you blue in where the little windmill would go around that they doing in hospitals. How has Eve's work affected me?

It's my foundation, it's my solidity. And from there I can do other things, but I don't break the rules. So the basic rules of, of polarities that are in every book coordinating Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. But I think the rules are maybe not watching the person and really helping their bodies to change, to grow, to work deeper. I think those were some of the abiding principles besides the technique.

Yeah. And um, don't over-correct you don't have to tell people everything. You know, my, a lot of my friends my age, um, are having a lot of body problems and walking and whatever and if you don't keep using it, you lose it. I have a very good friend I just visited and she moved from New York and when she was in New York, she walked like a half a block at a time. I was panting behind her then because she had some mental problems. Her son moved her to Brooklyn and she didn't know anybody. There she is. I don't walk. I don't do that much. When I was visiting her, she fell down and she couldn't get up.

She was like a little cockroach on her back and she didn't have the quad power. So I started to help her up and then I said, I'm not going to help you up. I'm going to show you how to get up. So I tried to show her how to get up, pull herself up on the bed, but the next morning she said to me, did I fall? So you've got to do a little try to kick myself in the butt every now and then. But on the other hand, um, I don't want it to say on my tombstone, she taught pullouts and then comped.

So I have, there are so many t I used to, when I took a vacation, I'd have to lock up the studio if Michelle couldn't come or as us. And that was it. And um, so now they're all over the place. Some better than others, I must say, but some very good ones. And um, so now I can with some students don't want to change or some they're not ready for another, so you really can't be away for forever. I couldn't. And unless I've really handed them over to another teacher permanently to really work with them. So that's a plus. So, um, I only teach 10 hours a week and um, it's good for me. It's good for my head and I get all my end foam, all my good information from my students. Who's a good gardener? Who's a good this, you know, don't go to this person. This dry cleaner is good.

My daughter took her wedding dress there. It's keeps you in touch. I had had a mastectomy on the right side and you know, you could all, they give you after your operation as you creep your hands up a wall and you do a few more things it hurts to do and your insurance is up and they go home. Well, if you don't do something that can all tighten up in there because that's scar tissue wants to tighten. So it was very good for me to be teaching, doing what I could. And one time it was so thrilling, I was on the barrel and I was rolling back and I could get my arms back and I was straight. Jelly went, oh, I could do it, I could do it. It still doesn't do all it should, but it's probably better than most.

Who haven't been doing that. I'm trying to think what our, each humor was like. Um, it was subtle. It was Wifi, it was subtle. It wasn't Yuk Yuk, not jokes. Um, and I think it was the kindness and goodness of her spirit that made some of the humor was tough, but also gentle. Eve was not a pushover. She was very gentle. Her empathy went on forever, but don't push her too hard. She had a back of steel. Yeah.

People would come in and sometimes they'd say, well, let's get going. You know, let's do this. Let's do that. And um, she would just say, you know, I don't teach stuff. I'm teaching you a method. This is a method of moving. And I have had, I had one gentleman, he came from Farmington and he'd had a video. So he gets on a reformer and he starts cranking it all out. And, um, I took him off the reformer and we were going to go backwards so I could show him how to really do it well. It, that was very upsetting. He didn't want to do that. He just give me some more stuff and um, I wouldn't do it.

And so we got through the lesson that I knew that was the end and that's not what I teach. And if someone wants us there, that's true. There are all kinds of places to go and get it. But on the other hand, people will come and [inaudible] is not for them. They need something that's not, I call Eve's work. Like pre Polato is something that you just do it. And often I'll suggest felled in Christ where you can just move. And I've been in a class where they say, Oh, if you go to sleep, it's okay. Just turn over to your, tell you what to do.

And they never go, we'll move this, this is here, this is there. Or swimming, just get in the water and move. Water is great. And I do a lot of hip. There's a wonderful two wonderful books by an orthopedic surgeon. His last name is clapper, unfortunately, and his first name, I've forgotten what it is, but um, one is called heal your knees and the other's called heal your hips and they're fabulous books. And I mean if you take you 24 hours to do all the exercises in it, but you can sort of pick what you need or get your teacher to pick what you need. And they're really great cause you have that water resistance, which is lovely.

You can do so many things in the water that you can't do out of the water. So it's really great for Rehab. And I do a lot of that. I think her greatest contribution is what she developed on her own, what I call [inaudible]. And um, what's almost generic now and a lot of people's vocabulary of movement and it was a great contribution. It was a contribution of sometimes more is less, and how to really breathe, move in, take the breathing with the movement, probably to a greater degree than PyLadies did within the movement because you're moving and her movement could go more slowly. So you could really take that time to be aware and sensitize yourself to what your body was doing.

Because there's a big difference between doing this set. Go up and down, then take it up, take it down, take it out, take it up, reach it down. Then how would I like to be remembered? Um, students who remember the classes fondly. It was something they enjoyed and something that they felt that there were changes in their bodies and maybe even in their attitude towards their bodies and towards life in general. If you're like this all the time, you can't feel like that. So I think it helps.

Comments

4 people like this.
What a lovely lady. Thank you for sharing.
2 people like this.
This is sooo interesting....a terrific historic series
Thanks
Such an inspiring lady you are Suzanne - I smiled throughout this video! Thank you!
Thank you, Suzanne. I was moved and inspired by your stories about your personal history and your memories of Eve.
It was heartwarming to read your comments. thank you all.
Suzanne

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