Discussion #1714

Pat Guyton on Ron

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Pat Guyton shares stories about her friendship with Ron Fletcher in this discussion. There was no one else like Ron, and she remembers the good times she had with him. Pat also tells us about the challenges of documenting his work before his training program existed as he didn't allow students to take notes during his classes.
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Aug 04, 2014
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Chapter 1

Pat's First Exposure to Pilates

My name is Pat Guyton and I'm sitting here in my beautiful Pilati studio. What's interesting to be in the studio and fill up the space is I remember a time when I couldn't call my studio a Pilati studio because I been around that long. In fact, I'm approaching almost my 30th year teaching PyLadies so I've been a lot of places in boulder. I started in a health club, uh, it was owned by an Olympic Greek ski skier. He was a cross country skier and why he was a Greek person, was living here in boulder with a health club, who knows, but he invited his friend Steph and frieze to come out and start teaching Palladia. So I was there in a health club and then the studio moved downtown to Pearl streets. So we actually had the first [inaudible] studio in Boulder. It was called the Stephan Studio. And then I went, I centered retreated for a while because things were kind of messy with the trademark. And I went into my house and people said, well, you can't teach Pele's because you can't use that name. And I thought, well, I'll just call it Pat Guyton. And while I was pet lingering then, and I just put my phone number down and people called and they came and we did whatever we did. And that was in my house.

And then I started working at an osteopathic center and I was there for about 10 years. And after that I decided I needed my own space. And so I'm sitting in the space that has taken that long to create and I'm very comfortable here and it's very cozy and I'm happy with things the way they are now. So I started out as the dancer and when I first saw the [inaudible] method demonstrated by this man Steph and freeze, I looked at it and I went, I know how to do that stuff. It turns out at Al Nikolai had trained my teacher and he had gone to geopolitics. So you see a lot of the dancers would go and they would learn things from Joe and then they would bring it back to their dance studios and they would insert it into their dance warmups.

So none of this seem to particularly strange, new or interesting, just a different way of presenting it. So that's how I got started. And um, for awhile it was just me and kind of collecting information here and there from my friends calling each other up and saying, did you see it? Did you see it in a newspaper? The word [inaudible] was used in the newspaper. Oh my gosh. Did you hear it? Somebody mentioned the word bodies on television and then the word would go out through the grapevine. Everybody would call everybody up.

And I'm just here to say the J K Rowling's has just finished a book and the word plot says in the book right now working with Ron,

Chapter 2

Meeting Ron for the First Time

that brings back, that was really wonderful memory. I had been to, uh, the infamous chair workshop that Kathy Grant taught in 1992. It was in Santa Fe. And the reason I say infamous is that it's the only chair workshop that she taught where she showed all of the chair pieces. And I really enjoyed it and I took excellent notes and I still have the notes, but something funny happened to me. Uh, she slapped me, she liked my demonstration of the [inaudible], the lead weight in the shoe, and I could lift my, uh, my leg up and I knew how to do that. So she thought, well, I'll have her go to the Cadillac and, uh, do the Jack Knife.

Now you've got to understand rails in the room. And Diane Miller's in the room and Barbara Hubner's there and Michelle Larson. And so you're really feeling exposed and vulnerable. And I had had an unfortunate car accident just before this, so I was feeling pretty fragile. So Kathy did what she always does. She slapped me and I was humiliated and I felt, I felt like I didn't know anything yet.

I really still love Kathy grant and I still loved the workshop, but it went back to I'm older and I thought, is this, do I have to go back to the way I was trained as a dancer? Do I have to be slapped? Do I have to be belittled? Can somebody just teach me in a way that's kinder. So a friend of mine named Donald Maclean said, Oh, you know, Barbara Huttner is bringing Ron Fletcher up to Denver and he's going to do a workshop. You should go in and take a workshop with Ron Fletcher. And I thought, he, no way. Ain't no way I'm going to go and have another one of these old people slap around on me. She said, no, no, no. Ron is not like that. He's really, really very nice. I think you just really like it. I think you'd like his work.

So you know, with a little trepidation, I go, I signed up for the workshop and I went up there and I had worn my unitar that were dancing. In fact, this one was bright yellow at that point in time, there wasn't much said about what you would show up. He didn't care. Later on, he got to a point where you had to be in black. But I was in bright yellow, know everybody brought a, you were supposed to bring a towel. So everybody brought a towel and I was told it had to be a bath towel, a just a specific one. And the older and the more worn out it was the better. Um, I had no idea what I was going to do with this. I figured I must, maybe I was gonna sweat a lot and I'd really need this thing. So I get there and I go in the room. And as a professional dancer, whenever you go to somebody's class, you never go to the front line and you never go to the middle because you understand that you don't know this work. So out of respect, you step back to three lines.

So I positioned myself in a good, so I had a good visual of Ron, but so that I wouldn't be conspicuous if I didn't know what I was doing because I didn't know anything about his work. So I'm standing there and he walks in and he's very congenial with a lot of people. I don't remember him coming up to speak to me personally at that point. But we started class and there was this show and I thought, well that's very interesting. But as a trained dancer, you do whatever you're told to do. And so I thought, well, okay, I can get with this program. It's an inhale and an exhale and you know, maybe the towel goes up on an inhale, it goes down. So it was doable. And so I worked through it.

And what I really enjoyed about it is it took me back to movement as a dancer. It was disciplined, there was precision, but it wasn't so complicated. So we were doing big run, run leaps. There were things that were doable by me and made me feel good. And so, uh, the way Ron would teach us, he would teach for about an hour to two hours and then you would have a break. And at the break he came up to me and he said, so what's your name? And I said, my name's Pat.

It's a pleasure to meet you or something like that. And he said, oh, okay. He said, well, I can see you're like me. And they said, how's that? And he said, you're well trained and you're one of me. You'll be teaching for a long time. And I think because of my experience with Kathy and because I had had this car accident and you have to go through rehabilitation, it was nice to be acknowledged that yes, I was well trained.

I was trained by a national endowment artist. I had worked with United States gymnastic, um, team members when I coach, when I was coaching gymnastics. So it suddenly occurred to me, yes, I've had more than a day or two of training. So that made me feel good. And he, he was artful about that. He knew how to approach each person and say just what would give them a boost, make them feel happy. I just had an email sent to me by a teacher who went to the first PMA conference and Ron went up to him and gave him this compliment.

And then when Ron spoke at that first PMA conference, he referenced this person named Gary, and Gary has gone on to study in all those years because what Ron said to him gave him it, it gave him so much confidence and he couldn't believe that one of the first generation would reach out to him, who he as he said in his email to me, who was I? And then I was flabbergasted. So that's, I think my experience was probably very similar to a lot of people's. He spoke directly to us and then I did the rest of the workshop and it was pretty intense and I had had some shoulder and neck problems, so I was really, really, really sore after the workshop. But part of me, uh, the feeling I had was this, this was going to be good for me. I drove home after the first day and my husband said, well, how was it? And I started talking about it and he said, you know, you really happy, you should do more of these.

So little did my husband know that unless I had a prior engagement teach Ron's work somewhere else, I went to every single one of Ron Fletcher's workshops, sorry, until I didn't, which was about 13 years, you know, I never really had

Chapter 3

Beginning to Document Ron's Work

for at least the first 12 years, I never had anything but a pleasant working relationship with him. We both are readers, so we would share what went on in class, but we would also share, have you read this one? You should. You should read this particular book. And then I would tell him what I was reading. So, um, he had a very inquisitive mind. And so we were friends on that level. And when I began traveling with them, of course they were, I ate dinner with him, have breakfast with him, had dinners with his friends. Uh, sometimes we would be in hotel rooms side by side, and he'd say, Ms Pat, do you, do you want to go downstairs to dinner or, or do you want to order it?

We could order in our rooms that sometimes I'd go to his room and we'd eat dinner in the room. And sometimes I'd eat dinner in my bed and he'd eat dinner in his bed, but he'd always pick up the phone and call me. So there would be a wall between us. But we're talking on the phone about the dinner and the books that we're reading. So, and then we, we did talk about movement a lot, but does something that's very important for me to say about Ron is he wasn't just a plot east person. He wasn't just a first generation [inaudible] teacher.

He was a human being that had a lot of breadth. He loved animals. He had donkeys and cats and dogs. Uh, he loved people. He liked to travel. So if you don't have that full picture of him, he just wasn't sitting there thinking [inaudible] these exercises and night. I think that's what's important. So when it came time to, uh, to think about, well, there was the PMA and there were teacher training programs.

If you're going to have a teacher training program, you have to have a syllabus. You have to have something to work off. Well, well first of all, there were separate a couple of hurdles. Ron would not permit any note-taking in his class, anything. So if you wanted to write something about a reform or you had to run around the corner with pencils and papers because he felt that movement needed to be experienced, I fundamentally believe that he's right. I don't, however think that that works for schools because we have to do things called testing. So he wouldn't allow that. And so that was one hurdle, writing down something that he didn't like written anyway that he thought should be experienced. And the other thing is he was always creating in the moment.

So when I would go to workshops and since I went to all the workshops, you would hear all the scuttlebutt behind the corner. Well, I don't know. You know, the other day when Ron bent over, he did an inhale and an exhale here and then he came back and then he did an inhale and exhale. I don't understand it. I memorized that. I wrote it down in my notes. It's right here in my notes. I went home that very night and now he's doing an inhale and an exhale. Now what's that all about?

And I would say it's because he teaches in the moment and he looks at the class and sometimes he would do, I'm going to inhale over now. Now, now I'm gonna change that. I feel like in order to get what I need, I need you to inhale and then exhale as you go over and then inhale up, hold it, and then come down. So it depended on who was in the group. How did he feel? What was the weather, what did he read in his book that day? It always changed. So there was going to be a problem with writing down his work to back up a little bit. Um, because I had had the fortune of meeting one of the first generation teachers named Bruce King Bruce, his dance partner lived in Boulder, Colorado. So when she saw Polonius was starting to happen here, she said, well, why aren't you bringing out Bruce King? Well, people just didn't, they just didn't take polities out on the road then. So Bruce agreed to come reluctantly because Emily was here and her name was Emily Wadhams and he worked in our studio with us for about a week.

And then we went up to the University of Colorado and our studio, the center works, held a little workshop and Bruce taught his work and he had a very particular way of going about it, which was not like Ron and not like Cathy. None of them are good or bad. They were just very different. And uh, so having experienced Bruce and then he passed away, uh, I think it was in 1989 and then I met Kathy grant and Kathy grant was fantastic despite the fact of what had happened to me. She was fantastic. And then when I met Ron, he was fantastic. If I had had the choice of studying between Ron and Kathy, I think the reason I chose Ron, one of the major reasons is he was accessible to me. I couldn't go to New York to study with Kathy.

But having had that experience, I remember reading something. It may be my imagination. I would like to find this of Joe saying that [inaudible] was like a wheel, but whether or not Joe said that it's a metaphor I use. So [inaudible] is a wheel and in the center is the hub and the hub is Joe and Clara and the hub is also anybody that affected Joe and Clara. And those people are in the past. They don't need to have names. I happen to think this work goes all the way back to probably ancient Greece when people first started setting training programs.

And so anyway there it's Joe and Clara and then their spokes to a wheel. And so each person that studied with Joe and Clara, that first-generation, those are the main spokes. And at the time we recognize them to be people like Corolla, Romana, Ron, Kathy, Bruce, etc. And there are some spokes that are very vibrant spokes that hold up that wheel that are not even acknowledged. People have forgotten who they are. But to me the essence of those folks is still there.

So then the outside of the wheel becomes all of this. All of us who want to study and who want to pass on piles in our way. And since we can't go to the hub, Joe had already died. He died in 1967 I couldn't go to jail then I have to find a spoke. So my vision was each spoke needs to be documented because as someone just said earlier today, everybody has selective memory, everybody has the same experience.

But if 20 people are in a room and they recount their experience, it would be 20 different experiences based on that person and how they felt. So to me, we have to document Bruce will. Sadly that didn't happen. Will somebody please document Kathy Grant? Well I didn't study enough with her so all I could do was document Ron because that's what I knew the most of. And that way if all the spit, all the spokes are fulfilled and documented. The wheel is true. But we know from a bicycle, if one spoke breaks, the wheel doesn't work.

And I prefer to continue to think of that metaphor. So here we go. And there's Ron with no notes and Ron who never does anything the same way twice because that's purposefully how he teaches. So we have to talk to Ron and get him to understand that perhaps it would be nice if some of his stuff could be shared with a wider audience. So the first step that that he allowed me to do was I told him that I was working with some doctors of muscular skeletal medicine and uh, uh, mainly mds and doctors of osteopathy. Now these are all medically trained doctors, osteopaths also do manipulation, some muscular skeletal skeletal manipulation.

And they were very interested in what I was doing. The one doctor that I worked with for a long time, Dr Tom Raven, he came down and started studying [inaudible] with me. And one of his comments about, uh, the short spine on the reformer is that first of all, he had never seen a piece of equipment that was more universal in its approach to both physical therapy and physical fitness. And if there was one exercise that everybody ought to do, it was the short spine. And so I was telling Ron and I would share these things about this and I'd say, Ron, they're going to ask me to present plots.

And of course now that I knew you, I need to include how I, I teach the Fletcher method. What else am I going to do? It's the Fletcher work. And so he said, well, you know, that's okay. Show me what you're going to do. And um, so the first thing was I took some photographs. Dcis was, was taken by a medical photographer. Now this is a handbook. And, uh, this happened in Vail, Colorado in 1996 and he approved that. And so I wrote, you know, I annotated what we were doing and we took photographs and, uh, I taught the doctors this at the conference and one of the doctors, he was excited about Ron's breathing because he said that it actually included, uh, two of the major components of breathing, bucket handle motion and pump handle rib motion. And then proceeded to explain to me what it was. And then they went back to Ron and said, do you know what you're doing?

You're doing this. And he said, well, it's good. I'm doing something. That's right. So, um, then the next step was in 2000. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the American Academy of Osteopathy, their annual convocation. Now this is a pretty big deal. In fact, one of my osteopathic doctor friends was pretty pissed at me. He actually said to me, pat, you know, I don't know if you understand what this means, but most of us as osteopaths, we will never be invited to present at our own meeting.

There's too many of us and we're not that well known. And you're going to be teaching. I was teaching in front, they have what they call their first generation teachers. I had two of them in my class. So yes, people out there. I taught viola Fryman and I taught, uh, Phil Greenman, uh, Ron Fletcher's work. But anyway, um, so I taught the towel. I had a, at that point, people didn't have PowerPoint. You had to make film, slides of movement, and they had to be projected onto a screen.

And then I had a Mike and then, uh, I demonstrated and we had the, asked the hotel where we began. We were in Cleveland, would they please supply us with 300 towels? Uh, unfortunately. And fortunately they did supply us with the towels, but the towels were this lush plush towels. You know, you really need a ratty old towel at that time. So, uh, I'm looking out in the room, I have pictures of this and there were 300 doctors doing power work. I have pictures of them inside bands, pictures of them trying to get behind their head. Uh, it was an amazing, an amazing experience and an incredible opportunity. And the funny thing was I was so afraid of always missing runs workshops that they flew to his workshop on Friday, flew out Friday night so I could be at the convocation and then flew back to the workshop. So that's how I started documenting it. And it just went on from there.

Chapter 4

Ron's Sculpture

This is a sculpture of Ron Fletcher and I want to give credit to Maggie Parker, who was a friend of mine who actually was, um, beginning to do work on what's called the lost wax method of sculpture. And it was cast in Loveland, Colorado. My teacher, Mary Stayton, I was a member of the Mary State and dancing sambal and the assistant director, as I said before, she worked with both Marie Lewis and Ellen Nikolai. Uh, I talked to Mary and Mary had since retired and she was living in Santa Barbara, California. And I said, well, I was running, I'm a runner and I had this vision going down this trail. I can still remember this run. I have certain times of my life, which are like framed pictures where the smell and the taste and everything comes back.

And I had this vision of a sculpture that should be done of Ron and I could see it and I could see that it was a spiral because Ron did a lot of spirals. And if you'll look at it, it's a spiral. And the vision I had was if you looked at it from any direction in the horizontal plane, there would be in, in sculpture, what you called the positive space and the spaces you see through the negative space and the spaces together, say something. And that's what we do as dancers. We carve, we talk about the room as space and we carve designs in the space. And it's not even just so much the outline of this thigh, but what the thigh says as it arcs through the physical room.

And so I wanted it to be something that you could look at in all dimensions. And if you look at it from the top coming down, it's artistically composed for that. So I had this composition in my head because I was, um, I also did composition when I was dancing. And so I saw it all. So I came back and I talked to my teacher Mary, who had, who had come into, um, some of her family fortune. And I said, I have this vision. And she said, well, let's do it. And so she commissioned Maggie Parker to do it.

And we went up to Vail, Colorado and um, I had some pictures of Ron, which are kind of funny. He's actually sitting here in blue striped pajamas and we would hold, this is Ron Fletcher taken when, um, he was with the ice capades or maybe it was before then and he was in that position. And this is a moment in class that happened when Kathy Corey was his assistant and she had, uh, had everybody come to, it was a one of those little towns north of San Diego. And I'm trying to think which one it was. But anyway, one of his students, Patrick Dempsey said, Ron, how, how can I do this, this roll down? How, how can I get this, what you call a contraction? And Ron was sitting there and he just turned around and he said, Mr. Patrick, you want me to say some word which will change how your body moves.

But I hate to tell you this, you have to just keep doing the work and in about be patient. And in about five years it will come. And so that is that moment. He turned around and spoke to Patrick. I stood there and models for that and he modeled for this one and I don't know, it was just, it was a good time. So we presented it to him. It was his 75th birthday present, but I don't think he got it until the set.

I think we started it in his 75th year. We had an art show in Vail, Colorado, which Cathy Corey hosted for him along with, uh, another friend of his Christie Hill. And then we did unveil it at a, in Tucson at curious Saban's studio bodywork studio later that year.

Chapter 5

There is No One Else Like Ron

Ron was a storyteller. He was a brilliant racking tour and sometimes he would be in front of the class teaching way, lift his arm up and say, I remember a story. And then he would stop and he would tell us stories and sometimes it was like, okay, I know this man was trying to teach us something about the arm lifting.

Now, how is he going to go around through this story about Tallulah Bankhead and how are we going to get back to what the arm was doing and darn it, every single time he eventually, no matter how long it took, got back to what he started on. So it was like riding this wheel, except sometimes the wheel was small and sometimes it was huge, you know, and you'd go around and he could literally talk for an hour sometimes. And we're just standing there and with our legs together in position doing what Mr Ron would call being at the ready. And so that was fun. Uh, he could fall into a space or rather than say fall, he could elevate himself into a space where he would teach and he would breathe and there would be no words. And sometimes the movement, uh, gesture, for instance, this gesture would be pregnant with so many things that can't be expressed. And although we all took from Ron and we learned from Ron, one of the things we know we'll miss is none of us are run Fletcher.

None of us can do that. That gesture by the way, the hand goes like this, like that. I watched his fingers move one year. I said, you know, Ron, I've been watching your fingers this year. And he said, yes, I've been noticing that because I wanted to know exactly what literally what each molecule of his body was doing. It wasn't so much about the Fletcher, the way he did movement. It was more about the internal process of how he learned to move through his life and how his journey changed in him and came out through his movement.

How was Ron's work different? Is is an interesting question that people will ask me many times. And I'm going to tell a funny story about being on the PMA board. Cause I was on a PMA board of directors and of course we had to define, uh, what was PyLadies because the, uh, psychometricians, you know, w what are you doing? And there was somebody at the board and my board colleagues were all lovely people, but you know, they would tell their truth. Well, I don't even know if that Ron Fletcher is doing plays.

And I'm sitting there going, okay, wondering what the heck am I doing here on this board? And I'm, you know, I've even bought an airline ticket to come down here and I'm paying for my hotel room. So I just quietly, I usually think about things before I say something. They said, well, now that's interesting. So let me get this right. A Ron Fletcher doesn't do PyLadies, but we're gonna walk into a run Fletcher Studio and hmm, there are the reformers, the high barrel, the trapeze table, the spine correctors, although there may be more spine correctors than there are in other studios. Uh, so could somebody tell me why that's not a Pilati studio? And so then everybody got quiet. So I think what Ron did is he loved movement and he improvised. He was always in the moment and he started a studio in La. And when I met Michael and Diane, I could see that their interpretation of plots was pretty much what I would call classic. But clearly by the time I had met Ron, he had gone off on a journey. One of the reasons for that journey, I can't say this as a matter of fact, but it's very possible, so I'm going to just put it out there.

Ron met a very wealthy woman named Christie Hill. He was teaching at the Golden Door and he tells the story about how the people, the golden door said, now Ms. Hill is coming. Whatever you do, because see, he's the hired help teaching Polonius you do not speak to Mrs. Hill, you don't speak to her. So okay, he's fine with that. He gets up early in the morning and there he's going for a walk and she may have already taken one of his classes and suddenly he says, I'm going around the bend and there's Mrs. Hill and what am I going to do? I mean, do I just turn and run? Do I say good morning? Do I just pretend to see her? And she's wet, wet and started to chat and she said, you know, I live in Vail, Colorado and I'd love for you to come up and do a workshop. Well, he'd never done a workshop.

And furthermore she wanted him to do five hours a day. And these were all very wealthy women and they were older women. I would say at the time he started, they were at least 60 and Kristie Hill. The last time we worked with her was 91 or 92 that woman could do a roll up better than a lot of our polities teachers today at that age. So when he went up there, here's five hours, he has to fill five hours there at a ballet studio, there's a ballet bar. So could it be that Ron's work at the bar was an attempt to get these women to feel some of the footwork on the reformer where there clearly were no reformers and you can't do mat work for five hours.

And so he started to become very creative and then he has a whole story about how he started his towel work. And I'll let someone else talk about that. But suffice to say that with the towel, it was something that he could use there in studio. So he fleshed out those five hours and he would go to Vail twice a year. So I think that really helped him to branch out into being himself, even though he continued to do reformer work and trapeze table and loved the spine corrector. He credits Clara with all the, all his work on the spine corrector, but he was always, always inventing new things for the teachers. What Ron did was responded to it was he would talk about the room being palpable. So if he walked in, I would say, well Ron, I'd go back to the dressing room. He'd be dressing what? Which sir? What?

What would you like to start with the date? Do you want to start with the towel? Do you want to go to the floor? Do you want to go to the bar? He would, you know, he, it'd be pulling on his straps of his stuff like this. And He, again, I don't know. I think I'm just going to, I'm going to go out there and we'll just start breathing and we'll see where it goes from there. Uh, so he, he really did feel his audience and respond to that. So what I, what I like, what I think should be remembered about him is for all of those who say he departed from the [inaudible] work, uh, what I would say the classical, whatever classical is, I would say, well, maybe you should have, maybe you all should go off and explore some other things and come back to your source. Because he was fearless. He would say, you have to step into the unknown. You have to step into the obis. That's when you're truly vulnerable. That's when great things happen.

So that was a gift that he gave and the ability to be totally present with your class in the moment, not going in with a lift. Oh, well we have to teach it this way because I wrote one, two, three, four, five. Now it's fairly, really hard because I go off and I teach workshops and if I hand out the syllabus and I've been to many studios, well wait a minute, what do you mean we're doing four before three? And you know, I have to say, look, there are times when as teachers we have to be strong enough and we have to have the courage to say, you know, I know it says this, but for what I want to get out of this, we have to do this first. Trust me, we're going to come back and get that. And so I think it's a spontaneity, the um, that ability to be totally present. And sometimes we would watch him move and we would feel like he was not only in the room, but he was out there at the same time. So when I look back and I think about, well, what was the most important thing that Ron taught me? Because it's movement repertoire was endless. I mean, anything that could be done, he would try and sometimes he would say, well that's a keeper. We'll miss pat. We tried that one out today.

We'll definitely not repeat that one again. I mean, this was the conversations we'd have. So it's not a piece of work. What it is can be encapsulated in a phrase that he said all the time. It's got to say something. It's got to say something. And so for him it's got to say something, you know, it's got to say something. It's got to say something. As I've gone on in my exploration of movement, I started out in college. I thought I was going to be a research biologist.

I Love Chemistry and I really would've liked to have been a chemist and the electrons do a dance. So to me, down here in the micro microcosm is what we're doing out here in the macrocosm. But I ended up doing what I did and I am in an experimental laboratory. So after, uh, I was no longer working with Ron, I met someone named Derek Franklin, who a lot of people know, and he took me back to my roots of looking at movement from an anatomical point of view. He does use a lot of imagery. But one of Eric's, uh, sayings is it's not a good image if it doesn't match functional movement. So for imagery to be effective, it has to match functional movement. The way the body was designed.

How far away is that from Ron saying it's got to say something. So for me now, when I look at movement and I look at the precision, the flow, all of those things, to me it's got to say something about the functionality of the body and the way we're designed. Because if we don't move according to the way the body was put together, I often tell people, you may want to drive your car sideways down the road, but if the tires are going frontwards, you're going to have pretty hard time driving it sideways. And so there are some things in the [inaudible] method that have changed and rightfully so, because we know more about functional anatomy. We've had people, uh, physical therapists in our industry who have brought some good changes and people like myself who've studied with other kinds of movement educators, Irene Dowd, Eric Franklin, um, to name a few. And so we can change. And I laugh because that's what Ron did. He changed, he helped initiate the progression of this work into something that can be even more in the future.

Chapter 6

Ron Fletcher Mementos

This is the first photograph that Ron gave me of himself and there's a little story behind it, too joyful pat, who is a fine gift. Love Ron. We'll have to go back to that first workshop that I took with Ron Fletcher, that Barbara Huttner hosted in Denver. Uh, when he met me, I said, my name was pat, but for some reason Ron kept calling me joy. So I figured, well, I, I, I must be the joy in the room, whatever. So he would say, now joy, when you lift your arm up, do so and so. Well at the end of the workshop, he was talking to me, he said, your name's not joy. Your name's Pat.

Then why did she answer to Julie? And I said, well, it was okay. So he called me joyful pat. That was my name. And this is another picture of two. My Pat from Ron. Uh, this one, I think this one was probably taken, he was still, I think in the La Studio or it was just post that time. And then, um, Ron gave out certificates for a while to his students. So I have one that's my master teacher certificate here. And this was senior teacher, the first four master teacher certificates he gave there.

There was no school, so he was just acknowledging his students. So when the sculpture was presented to Ron at his birthday party in Tucson, he named four teachers, master teachers, Diane Severino, Michael Pod Wall, Kathy Corey, and Barbara Huttner. And I remember Barbara Huttner said to me, well, you know, I've been working with them a long time, pat. And you know, if you work with him a long time, you may get one. At that point, I thought, oh, I'll never get one of those, you know. Um, but it was, okay. So in 2000 Ron gave four more of these master teachers certificates. Uh, one was to Elizabeth Jones, Boswell, who had studied with him for many years and then Diane Diffenderfer and Costa Mesa, who had worked a little bit in his studio and John White who, uh, teaches [inaudible] or used to at Canyon ranch and me and I know it and we'll never forget that day. And I also will never, uh, this particular thing that happened to me that I don't know how many people had this opportunity. I was asked to go to an, an intimate gathering of Kathy quarries and I was, I went there and, um, I was told, I was told that I was going to be tested by Ron Fletcher.

So while everybody else gets tested by their schools, I get tested by Ron Fletcher. And so I, uh, started to teach the short spine. I didn't do that right. And he stopped me in the middle of it and corrected it and then went on. And then later that night at dinner, he said, well, you passed. And, uh, also had another interesting time, um, with his red sweaters there in east rapids, red towel around him. And, uh, I was teaching with him, I was assisting in New York City and Kathy grant came and we presented her with the red talent. She's sitting over in the corner like this, you know, just watching, cause she'd just had some surgery and Ron's teaching, he says, now you go take the front of the class, I'm going to walk down the side and just see what's going on. And so he does that. Suddenly Kathy, I see her out of the corner of my head, pick up the towel and she starts going down to the back of the class suddenly and I'm up there side bending and I realize, oh my God, there's two master teachers taking class and I'm in the front teaching.

And that's all I have to say about this.

Chapter 7

The Many Layers of Ron's Personality

There were times, see I was devoted to him and I, I loved him. As much as I loved his work, they were inseparable, but he could be explosive. And there were times when he really wasn't kind. In fact, it was worse than that. And I know those of us who loved him would sometimes stand and almost cringe inside because why was, why was he doing this? Why was he, why was he getting, so why did he need to become angry or insult somebody or belittle somebody?

And I, I guess I just didn't want to look at that part because to me there was so much that was good that this little part over here, I just didn't really, really want to look at it. Those people who know Ron and he would often start his classes will say, would say, I'm a, I, um, I'm a recovering alcoholic and he would talk about his AA process. So that explains some of what went on. Unfortunately, many people never got apologized to. What I would like to say is, and I think it's true for all of these first-generation teachers, their lineage came from a very disciplined source. That was brutal. When, when they joke about the ballet mistress beating you with a cane, that's, that's not a joke. No one, when you're, your dance master comes in and says, if you don't lose five pounds, I'm not putting you on stage. Uh, where did you ever get off thinking that that was a foot that could be, that could point, you know, who are you? And so Ron worked with Martha Graham and that woman was extremely out of control in her later years.

So we were all taught through negative reinforcement. We were all taught to Yale, we were all taught that that's how you were a good teacher. And so Joe taught like that and a lot of the first generation teachers taught like that. So some of that is where Ron's personality came from. Then there was also the fact that Ron and I shared stories. We didn't, neither one of us grew up to call it a dysfunctional household would be not quite true. He had a difficult childhood.

He didn't really have a mother that was present and he, he'd had to do a lot for himself on his own. And I had a difficult childhood and you know, he would not make a big deal about it. He would share it with me, but he would say, you know, everybody has a story. But he had that to contend with and he also, in his later years, he was not feeling very well. So there'd be times when he'd get up and he'd go, I'd go to the dressing room and he'd say, Ms Pat, I so did not want to go out there and teach today. And I said, I know you're not feeling well. He said, can you go out and start the class and if I have to leave, can you at least take over? He also, um, he had this, a common experience with many really well trained movers, people who love to move. And he would talk about Martha Graham and he would say, Martha was never happy with anybody. She trained. Martha came up with these beautiful dances that she composed. And then when she got too old and she got gnarled and was arthritic, she had to put, she had to cast those roles on other people.

And she hated it because it was only Martha, it was only Martha who could really show what the work was. And what that was really about and what she wanted to say. And so it angered her to have to show her work with other bodies. So one day he said to me, Oh, send it to me a couple times in, Oh, pat, you're a good demonstrator and you do the work really well. But you know, sometimes I really wish it was me doing the demonstrating.

He said, I would like to be able to show my work. And I said, of course you would, sir. It's your work. And I never forget that and I do the best I can, but I can't do it the way you would do it. So those were some of the reasons that I think Ron had those crusty edges. But also I have seen Ron in situations walk in. It was in Cincinnati where there was a woman who was obese.

I mean, she really was obese and she was not a trained movement person. And for some reason that day he just took that woman and wrapped his wing around her and basically took care of her the whole way through that workshop and talk to her and comforted her. So it was like there were two people there. And so that was wrong. Just a normal human being. Multifaceted.

Chapter 8

Remembering the Good Times

I worked with Ron for 13 years. When I started with Ron, he would go to Barbara Huttner nurse a lot and she was somewhat of assistant, but his main assistant was Kathy Corey and there was a falling out.

And um, Y who knows? I think things just have to change sometimes. And as humans we're not always smart enough to know how to just say to one another, you know, it's been a grand time, but it's time to move on. And can we just call each other up on birthdays and Christmas and say hello and you know, just talk to us as people. So the partying with Cathy, I don't think was comfortable for her and I'd let her speak about that more than me. And I was there all the time.

And so I had B been used more and more as a demonstrator and suddenly am there. And I remember I used to jokingly say, well, I'm here as long as I am until the ax falls on me. And some of you who are listening to this will remember me saying that and people say, oh no, no, that will never happen to you. Um, cause if I say to say that the acts came down and I don't think it was comfortable for him, I don't think it was comfortable for me. I had to separate myself completely because it was too painful. Uh, I couldn't answer. I couldn't answer phone calls, I couldn't answer emails. I just needed to be, I needed to contract into my own space.

And Mary Bowen was very helpful at that time and other first-generation teacher, Mary said to me, you know, pat, this is probably one of the worst experiences that you'll ever have in your life. It's very much like a divorce or a death in the family. He was very important to you. You were very important to him. But she said, this is also going to be one of the best things that ever happens to you because now we're going to find out who you, who's the real pet Guyton cause then assistant, I was an assistant to Mary state and then I was an assistant to Ron. Your job is to put their work out the way they want it. No one's interested in what you think. And I always taught whether he was in the room or not, when he was gone, I would teach the way he would want that work percentage as if he were to walk in the room. I remember I was in San Antonio one time teaching and I said, I made this joke. I said, we're going to do this because if Ron were to walk in that door right now, he would not be happy. And so we went on. 10 minutes later, Ron walked in the door. So I now, I really wasn't teaching, it wasn't my work, it was Ron Fletcher's work and I was good at it and I was good at assisting him, but I had to find who I was. So, okay. There was a long period where we didn't talk and we really never resumed what you would call long conversation, but I was feeling it wasn't feeling really good.

I would hear through the grapevine that he wasn't, he wasn't doing well, but he was 90. So I was sitting, I was at, I was sitting in the bus with Michelle Larson and we were going to plot these any time. And that was the first time Michelle Larson had gone into Palladio's anytime. And I had said, well here you come with me, you'll be my date. And so Michelle and I were dating that night and she said, so pat, what, what really did go down there? And you know, I have an abbreviated version of that because I don't want to go through that pain. And I just think of, I prefer to think of him now with the fond memories that I have left. I'm not saying that there were painful parts.

And so, um, I told Michelle, I said, I'm really concerned about him. She said, yeah, I've heard he's not well. And I said, I would like to call him and talk to him, but I'm not sure if he wouldn't just blow up and hang up and call me all kinds of names. And she said, I think you should probably try. And then I talked to Cathy Corey and she said, yeah, I think you should probably try. So I came into this in my office here and I mean I was sweating, I was shaking and I dialed this number because it was still in my phone book. I never took it off. It's still on my cell phone. Ron's phone number. I can't delete that. And uh, I picked up the phone and I said, and I listened and he said, hello, hello.

He was obviously even more hard of hearing than he had been. And I said, Ron, it's pat. Huh? Ron? It's Pat. Huh? I said, Ron, it's pat. Oh, Ms Pat. Oh, it's you. And I said, Ron, I just called because I want to tell you I love you. He said, Huh? To Ron, I just want to tell you I love you. Oh, oh. And then the third time I said, and he said, well, I love you too.

And he said, I haven't been feeling very good lately and can I call you up in a cup when I'm feeling a little better in a couple of days? And I said, Ron, it's okay. All I really wanted to tell you was I love you and yes, you're welcome to call me up when it, whenever you want to. And then he passed away I think within a week or 10 days. So I've sometimes wondered, did Ron Weird [inaudible] I prefer to think a hope that he came to a place of peace with people in his life. And The lady that, um, that did the sculpture that, uh, donated the money for it, Mary State and she had met Ron and she said, you know, it's my sense that you gave him a gift because I don't, I don't sense that Ron was always able to reach out and tell people how he felt or that he made a mistake. He did a lot of times, but she said it might have, that would've been a hard one for him. She said, so thank you for doing that from me, and so I'm grateful I had that opportunity.

Comments

Thank you, Pat, for sharing this. Beautifully spoken. I never have had the opportunity to learn or experience his work, but, you've sparked my interest now. If I'm ever in your area...
Thanks.
Dear Pat,
Thank you for sharing those special moments in time with Mr. RonFletcher. I am looking forward to your visit in Switzerland next Aug… Many Thanks…….
2 people like this.
Thank you to everyone who has appreciated the documentary. I have received many personal replies as well as those posted here. Ron's humanity and spirit are remembered. That is the gift he gave to us and may we all try to reach and share...
2 people like this.
Thank you for sharing and letting those if us who didnt know Ron see him as a person and not just a first generation teacher. The Fletcher work does have such spirit. Thank you for keeping that spoke going.
1 person likes this.
I have no words for how much I appreciate this interview, the history, the honest portrayal of the friendship between Ms. Guyton & Ron Fletcher. It is so important to all of us who love Pilates to know our heritage. Thank you for telling your story. I'm so grateful.
I would like to acknowledge that Pilates Anytime for the opportunity to share.
What a moving and honest interview. Thank you Pat for sharing with us your memories of Ron Fletcher. His work - so elegant and thoughtful- will continue to be shown through his master teachers, and your own work will reflect your time with him, but also develop with your interest in how the body moves for functionality. Bravo.

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