I love days like this. I'm not gonna lie. They make me nervous when I've got someone so special sitting next to me. Um, Stephanie Herman is here today. She is a former world renown prima ballerina. She's danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolph Nureyev and for George Balanchine. She's also a polities instructor of course with her first teacher, I believe.
Ben Corolla Treer Stephanie's here from up North in California at Menlo park Silicon Valley area. And she shared with us today a wonderful class or two actually, um, of one of her creations. Pele's ballet by Stephanie Herman. And it's a real honor to have you here. I can't wait to find out more. So thank you for coming. I'll thank you so much for having me. Christine's a delight. I love to start at the beginning, but I just want to say this, I've never seen such grace, I don't think in this building consistently all day.
Thank you for what you offered today. It was really wonderful to see the elements of the programs you've created. I mean other than the birds. Thank you. Thank you. So we'll get to talking about that later. But let's start at the beginning. Um, that the first place I want to go really is how did you get involved with [inaudible]? And I recognize that that probably takes you further back in your career, but can you, can you just give us a brief overview of how it is that you came to [inaudible]?
So I told my mom I really wanted to go there. And she's like, Oh, just like that, maybe. And then she called up and they found out there was an audition for beginners. And I went there, I put my number on and they told me, you know, do this, do that, you know, jump into duh, duh, duh. And uh, luckily I was born with some good attributes, uh, like 11 foot long Balanchine likes and you know, pinhead, long legs, good fee turnout. He liked pinheads so that you could see the legs and the arms and the body. So it's not you're focusing on the face as much, but the body is the actual instrument.
And so I got in and so that was the beginning of my ballet. And then after seven years with school, American ballet and high school performing arts, I got into George Balanchine's company and he sent his, um, soulless to Switzerland where he started LaGrand tad to shoe nap. And I was dancing there. Long story short. And I got injured after the first year and so I came back to New York to recuperate and my mom, I don't know, she found this [inaudible] place in 1973. You do a, and it was in this building in New York on, you had to take the elevator up and it was Corolla TRIA this 89 year old woman or I don't know how old she was, but she looked at like nine, two short woman and there was all these apparatuses pull out these apparatuses and I was like [inaudible] whatever, you know. So, so this is her own studio, the one that received 57th street. Right. Thank you.
And so I started working with her and she actually got me to be stronger than I was before my injury. Wow. And I used to see people come and her work with other people also. And um, she worked with this guy who had a ski accident and he was like totally crippled, came in with a wheelchair. And after me working with her, watching him, he ended up leaving with a cane. Wow. And, you know, I just thought it was really amazing how the Springs worked and how the Springs mirrored the feeling of your muscles. It's kinda like the same sensation. So you got that right away when you took, I mean not right away, but did you sense that as a coming from a dancer or just because of, I think coming from a dancer you have to really all own how your muscles feel in order to control them. And so that's what my whole plot is ballet by Stephanie Herman is, is you find it, feel it. Right, right. Move it. Own it. Okay.
So I want to find out how, how did you, because that's exactly how I saw it today. It was very, um, you know, all of us in the back, even some behind the camera were doing what you were doing cause you could feel it, you know, that you've are, you wanted to, I should say,
let's go back to when you were 12 and you're in public school and that, that's the teacher that says, do you want to join the ballet group? That has nothing to do with the auditions or any other school. That's just your PE class. Yeah. And then afterschool program was this a ballet group and so we did last so feed and you know all these different ballets and, but then at that time I did start the school of American ballet at same time. So I'm, I'm surprised, I guess that anyone could audition.
I was too. But I mean is that normal still or was at the time or would they have, they have two programs. They have programs that when you're, I think four years old, you get into the children's program and its children's one children's to children's three and then once you go through children's three you get into group a. I started at beginner's group, which at 12th and beginner's group, after a year of beginners I went into a, is it like a mastery of certain skills or something that keeps you going or is it a time thing? I think if they don't think you're ready, they had to kick you out.
I mean it's like how do you use your foot? You don't just use it like that, but you have to tilt it a little bit. And the first year we had a hold our fingers like this and it only where we allowed second year to open and relaxed and what they're starting to do is train what the form, like sculptures. Okay. No, no, no, no. I'm right where I want to be. Um, except for those a lot. I want to ask. Um, you'd never taken ballet. You're doing crunches and you decide I'm going to go to this square work.
Okay. All right. Right there. Four kids in our family and um, when I was seven years old, my sister Susan says, you want watch this? And she does a split and she, my older sister, I was the youngest of four. I go, wow, that's really cool. I really want to do it. So after a week practicing hard, I got to do the split. And I was like, Oh look at that, you know? And then my brother says, well, watch this now. He takes his hand and put it behind.
He puts it in front of these steps over ready, puts it all, lay around, and they breathe it all around. And I was like, wow, how'd you do that? So he said, well this is what you do. And he was very flexible. So I tried to do that and after a week I got to do it. My other sister said, she shows me a back bend and like, wow, how'd you do it? She's a little, you want to do the back man onto the bed first and don't go straight down. So I got to do that. And my mom was a concert pianist. So music was always part of, you know, the families.
And did you ever travel on the road? Like the Harmon family?
So you decided you're going to be a ballerina, you go to the audition a week or so later or soon after you get accepted. And was there ever a time you thought, what have I gotten myself into? Because I, you said it's intense and I can only imagine it'd be the minute you're in there, you know, you're 12 to, I often hear of people starting when there were three or four. And um, I think that that probably in my mind, I've never done this, but I'm imagining the culture that that little kid is growing up in is somewhat encouraged to dance until there's a lot of energy it seems like behind younger dancers. And then you step into this, having just decided going to do it and you're in this new world. What was that like? Do you remember? Well, school,
And I don't like to be mean. And I'm, I'm in this environment where people are judging and I don't like to be judgmental, you know? And I just felt that I was in this environment where people can have that sentence as getting in to look at, she can't even get her leg up anymore. And why isn't she doing that? And so you use, you're in this environment. And I sort of found myself stepping a little bit back, um, which made me judging, I was judging them. Ah, you know, so it's a double judgement. Right. And I felt it was really hard. Sure. Um, I made good friends, you know, I did make good friends, but I tried not to get into the whole, you know, making fun of everybody. And talking about other people.
I just kinda would just go [inaudible] you know, walk away. Where are you glad to be there though? Oh, totally. I got, I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I mean, I was like seven blocks away. I would walk to school, American ballet before it changed, but I was in the first building on 82nd street, you know, right next to uh, Schrafft's that had chocolate fudge that we'd go afterwards, walk upstairs and go and all the New York city ballet dancers would come there. So we'd always see the principal dancers walking in. We had to wear a uniform, you know, like blue leotard and pink tights or the next level, dark blue or every level you're at, you wear a different color and pink tights and everything. And then the Primo ballerinas would come in with rep types and legwarmers and sweaters off and smoke. And like, it is a contradiction from what we were, but it was like, wow, someday I'll get to do that too. And it was just, it was, it was like wow. It was just wonderful. And, and just, I think as I was getting more and more into understanding how to operate my body to meet and with music, so I am all musical.
Um, it was, it was great, but then there were also days when I can't do the pure wet and what am I ever going to do and why am I even here? And you know, I'm not as good as so-and-so and I'll never get in the company and all these things. So it's really hard. And then, and then all of a sudden I have a good day. Like, Oh, I had, this is really great, and then you have a lousy day. Wow, I can really get dancer, um, to try performing with a thousand people in front of you. You feel that way as a non dancer, this is going to seem maybe silly,
but I don't really know what the school of American ballet means. Does that just mean ballet school or is there more going on? I mean, I know that the fame schools, so what's the name of your Pilati studio? The studio Pitaro beach. Okay. And what's the name of uh, uh, somebody else's pull out a name. Another potty studio. Supply of lobbies. Okay. Named one more plot is taught to code. So each name has a brand and they stand by the integrity of their brand.
Well, George Balanchine stood behind school of American ballet and the whole training. So Pilati is training you go to a [inaudible] place. So it's really balancing. George Balanchine started the new city ballet and George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. They were, he was the money man started at the school of American ballet and the school American ballet taught what Balanchine wanted the dance just to learn in order to, to be in his company and to dance his choreography. So a lot of his choreography was very fast. It was, you know, legs up to your ears. So you had to train to get your legs up to your, you had to train to move your body fast. You had to train to look beautiful.
Okay. I did not know that. That I'm glad I asked actually. Yeah, I didn't know that. It's, it's sort of like some of the teacher training programs in a way. Yeah, exactly. If everyone in the building teaches them stop American ballet theater was another ballet company and they had their ballet theater school and then there was Joffrey, right. Another company, Joffrey ballet school school. I, okay. So each school, so there are no academics then either it's just ballet or if it's sort of preparation for that person's company. Right. But I went to high school before me. I know that that was the academic segwayed. Um, so how does that happen? So we've explained first of all, what the high school of performing arts is. What, did you ever see the movie fame? Yes. You ever see the first movement? Okay. Yes. Okay.
That was based on my school and um, it was actually filmed at my school. I've pretended I was at your school many times in my living room. I like people who like to pretend because holidays, ballet is people who like to pretend to be ballet dancers over, I mean really you already, you've lived to dreams for a lot of people. I believe in living your dream. Well then you're [inaudible] you're all I no, I know.
I don't mean to make it sound so funny, but it's really like to to get into the school of American ballet, to know George Balanchine dance for him eventually. Specifically I'm getting ahead of myself but cause I want to ask about that too. But um, then to go to the high school for the performing arts. And what age do you do that? Is that middle school or high school? Performing arts? Uh, you start with, um, 10th grade by the way.
I'm just getting started with what else? Dream. What other dreams you've had? [inaudible] I can think of four off the top of my head. I believe that in each part of your life there are different dreams that you try to go for. And sometimes you make it, sometimes you don't make it. If you don't make it, maybe you're not meant to make it. And so you kinda like refigure what your dreams should be.
And that will be later on I'll talk about injury and how dreams aren't or are not coming true and you have to rethink. It's a whole process. But anyway, high school performing arts, um, I had a choice of other, either going to a public high school or high school performing arts, which was public because we couldn't afford to go to a private school in New York city. So I auditioned for high school performing arts in order to audition where you had to do as you had and you had to come up with a dance and you had to perform it for the judges in high school performing arts and then they would make you do all these, all these things. So I asked my mom to play a musical piece. I don't remember what the piece was. So she played like a three minute, four or five minute piece. I recorded it and then I choreographed a dance to it.
And then, um, my brother drove me in his sports car to the high school audition and this was on 46th street in Manhattan. And I'm sitting in the front seat and I'm like trying not to bend my knees cause I didn't want wrinkles in my tights. Yeah. I, I'll like, I got to be careful not to get wrinkles on my tights, so I wouldn't, it wouldn't look like my, you know, I've got Brinkley legs, you know, so, and then I go there and there's all these people, you know, and they had the ballet department auditioning the modern department and auditioning. He had actors, he had the musicians all auditioning in the different places. So I was auditioning and then, you know, they tell you do this, you do it and know, okay, now it's time for your dance. You do it. And Oh my God, it's so scary.
Yeah. How, how old are you then? 1314. Has that not now? Right? Well, yes, I live my age. Schmooze to a point. I'm actually, I'm very proud
All the teachers. Cause they know they're going to be putting together performances. There's the Valley teachers, there's the one who teaches Indian dancers, the character dance teacher. There's the act acting teacher. Cause when we went there we'd have academics half, half of the half of the morning, let's say in the very beginning. And then, um, your dance would be in the other afternoon and you'd actually begin. Huh? You don't live there. Do you like that school? No. Again, I'm in New York.
I take the bus one Oh four and then, yeah. So I would go to high school performing arts and you know, during lunch was really great. Just like in the movie, you know, I'm practicing the dance that I have to do. And so, and so's practices the, you know, their instrument or Virginia Little orange to be or not to be as the acting the side. It was just wonderful. And what was really great was the contrast of going to school in American ballet where it was very kind of uptight and stiff and the looseness that was going on in high school performing arts, I really felt helped balance how did my life dancing? Oh, it was great. Yeah. Yeah. Well because I felt that the high school performing arts, we were allowed to do modern and jazz and Indian and character. And so it kind of loosened me up in a school, American ballet.
It was a little for a year. It was a little, it was more like West point rigid, but it wasn't really rigid because you had to move, but you had to learn the technique and you know when you're kind of, I used to be Bambi very wobbly and holding it together. For me it was kind of like I had to be stiff and then I was allowed to loosen up at high school before my yard. So I thought it was very good for me. Okay, great. And you stayed there for how long? How long has, is it four years? 1112 three three. Okay. And then when I, um, went to graduation, um, my parents came to the graduation and then they, um, they said there's an award silver award, which gives a a grant of money and uh, uh, Nicholas with a pen and we're awarding this to Stephanie Herman. I was just like, I was kinda like blown away. I was just so, you know, when you don't expect anything at all and didn't even know they had anything like this and all of a sudden like that was really cool. Wow. Congratulations. Thank you. And what a, what an honor it when it's making me think about how many people are, if you're in the dance department, are you, are all the dancers kind of competing for that award or is it for ballet or, I didn't even know there was an award. I'm sorry. Not competing. Sorry.
That's everybody's competing period. Right? I mean, everybody wants the major role, you know, a lot about like to be in the core. Right. You know, or uh, they always want to be the lead or they don't want to, I mean, I have a feeling like if you're dancing, you know, you're going to have to go out there to perform. I mean, I like to dance for the sake of dancing, you know? And then getting into performing was a whole nother story. It's like, huh.
So when I graduated from the high school performing arts, uh, I spent a year still taking classes and working with George Balanchine and going to take courses in college, like Fordham university philosophy and you know, trying to keep up my academics also. And then, um, I got into his company. He started a company in Switzerland, LeBron Tatcha Jeannette and at the New York city ballet, there's about 110 dancers there. And this new, uh, grom tat as you Nevin, Switzerland, Geneva, Switzerland, only had about 40 dancers. And so I got into that company and after a year I was doing soloists roles of George Balanchine's where my contemporaries who are still with York city ballet had to wait 10 years to do some of the roles that I ended up getting and working directly with George Balanchine on these roles. And so yes, it was a dream come true. But talk about, you know, performing, you know, you, you learn the whole technique and you do a couple of performances but you're not really always out there performing while you're learning the technique and your schooling, you're learning but you're not performing as much. And I think both schools, you know, maybe once every three months you do a performance. It wasn't like constant, like 12, 12 performances and you know, two weeks or something like that.
So all of a sudden having to get out there in front of a thousand people, it was like, was that nerve wracking? It was very, you know, there are a lot of nerves. Sure. But it just occurred to me how much more nerve racking could it be? The dance sore towards balancing like right there and it's a different, okay, that's another story. Okay. So this is what would happen for me. Um, I would actually get a very nervous when I had to perform for him or perform for my contemporary yes. In rehearsal because they were the hard, they were harsh on, on the other dancers. And you knew it and you grew up school American ballet where you knew, you know, like, Oh I ate that ice cream yesterday and it's still showing, you know, or like things like that. And they would let you know too like eh Hmm.
So, um, I would make me internally be hard on myself, but also the whole training you are constantly thinking is my shoulder down? Is my elbow up on my fingers, right? There's Michael armpit attached to my shoulder blaze downs, my neck long, my abs is my ribs in and my turn out good. Am I doing the step fast enough is my pointed foot and my, cause when you're taking a class at fifth and fifth and fifth and fifth and absent an inner thigh and and faster, I'm wanting to two and three and four digits. And you're constantly having to think of all these things in order to look perfect. So when you get out on stage, what you have to do is almost like you have to own what you, you have to trust that you own it. Cause you've done all your rehearsals, but sometimes you didn't get enough rehearsals. That's like, Oh no, I can't get that pure wedding performances in like 10 minutes.
What am I going to do? And then you then you overanalyze. Like I got to get this program. And then when the music comes and you're coming to the period, like I would think that self-judgment that creeps in over that kind of tress culture even, um, would almost, even if you did have enough rehearsals, technically you're buying together. So there, there has to be maybe a let go, you know, and when I teach now I try to give people permission to let go and move. So if you're in like my plot is ballet level two or level three, I kind of work on, you know, how does it feel to go from one leg to the other and full into the, the weight of your leg and just go from one side to the other. And then as you do, you, you know, lift the arm and you're just, you're going down and up and down and up and you play with, it.
Was that part of your dance turning or was that just something you had to develop so that you would mitigate your nerves? Both. Both. I mean, you know, uh, I did work with Alvin Ailey, which was really fabulous. Wow. Um, and he was into like, um, this modern jazz and letting go of course, you know, coming from high school, performing arts, working with a modern teacher, you know, I learned that. And so when I did work with Alvin Ailey, it was, it was, it was movement to its fullest. And I remember once we were performing, I hope you don't mind me telling you all these stories. I think that's what you're kidding. So thank you. I'm reminiscing, you know, it's 65. So, um, when we were performing in Greece with the ballet company, Alvin Ailey came to Greece coast, Alvin Ailey dance company was going to perform next after us. And so he actually sat next to my director to see us before him and I was performing this ballet called Agon. And, um, after Algon, uh, my director came back to me and she said, you know what Alvin Ailey said to me about you? And she said, he said, now that's what dances. Wow. Yeah. I mean that was just like, cool. Wow. Wow.
So, um, you're in Switzerland? Yeah. Yeah. And you're 19 ish or 20? I think I read. Kept going. You kept going. You stayed on that. Okay. I wasn't sure. Well, I stayed there for three years and then I got injured in 1973 and I came back to New York working with Corolla tree or with holidays. And you said your mom heard about it? I would. I'm curious. Help me there. I don't know why I'm just like, you know, she took me there. I have no idea.
My mom was a networker. Okay. Yeah. Did your mom do it with Corolla as well? Why do you do with that? Look, my mom used to take a taxi to work, which was five blocks away. Although she had, she doesn't want to go shopping. She, she had more stamina than me to go shopping my gala. That's funny. That's funny. But you are all performers, your families. Oh, nobody was a proclaimer. No, they just were just like, we're into like, Oh cool, look at this, you know. Okay. My older sister Susan, I think, uh, would have loved to be a performer, but she is such a dynamic woman that she's performing in life anyway. And um, my other sister drew is, is a director in a, um, in, in therapy and psychiatry. So she's kind of like there, there's performing and being a director and my, my brother actually was going to be a pianist also, but, um, he moved on to this company called top hat where it's a contracting company and he's directing like hundreds of people.
So I guess some level performing, just not on stall performing our own lives where I was, my sister Susan, I think, fantasizes that she would've liked to, to really be on stage to be a singer or something like that. She can't sing that like that. Sorry. It's already [inaudible] right along. So yes, getting over the nerves is really hard. It really is. I mean, I just remember once, you know, standing there, you know, in my position, and we were in London at that time, dancing with Nureyev and we were doing Don Quixote third dream secretly. And there's like the scrim, you know, scrim is like a, you know how in your car you have this shade that you can see through. Okay. So it was like that scrimped and they had smoke to make it look, and we're standing there and it was the first night in London, you know, we're performing and, and you can't really see that well as the dancer.
And then all of a sudden the scrim opens. I'm like, Oh my God, there's thousands of people out there. Like, I remember that feeling like, Ooh, did you ever, the show goes on, you know? Did you ever have a, I don't know what, what do you call it, Dan? Stage fight. Do you ever have a moment of, I mean, I'm assuming you'd miss a step here or there, but truly just not me. No. Yeah. Oh yes. Um, I remember right before, like about eight seconds before I had to go on stage, he'd be like, I didn't want to go. I don't want to go. I'm hungry. I go to the bathroom. I don't want to go duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh duh. Yeah.
Like it's like listing and distract and then you're good to go. Oh, that's interesting. No, back to Corolla. So you got, you come back from Europe, you've injured yourself. How did you injure yourself? First of all? Oh, how did I injure myself? Okay. I was, um, I was thinking of quitting the company because I felt we weren't performing enough and I was young and I wanted to do more performances. So I was thinking, you know, maybe I should go back to New York.
So I go up to the director's office to quit. And the director's not there. So I'm called down into rehearsal and it was the first rehearsal of showboat. And I find out I have this major lead and Todd Bolander is this, um, choreographer, dancer set of the person who sets the ballet. You know, like there's certain people in [inaudible] who teach, this is the way [inaudible] is. Joseph Polis wants the exercise done well, they are people in ballet, uh, teaching. This is how the ballet is supposed to be the choreography and this is what you're supposed to think about. So I, I got this major lead and all of a sudden he's from New York and he's working with us and I'm starting to rethink like, well maybe I shouldn't quit and this is very exciting and maybe we're going to do more, you know, and I'm, I'm like the first day that he says, okay, the partner's going to hold the dancer me and this is the partner holding and the dancer is supposed to do a back bend while their other foot is on Demi point, plea a and the other foot has to kick up into the ceiling as you do kick and kick.
So I'm doing this kick and kick as we're walking across the stage and all of a sudden this foot slips as I'm in that back then kick and I fall to the ground and I'm looking at my knee cap, which is over here and all the dancers come over and they're looking at me and I'm looking at them and going crying like this hurts. And they're like, like nobody knows what to do. And I don't know why, but I just took my kneecap and I'd put it back in place. Yeah, it was totally like it was over here. My kneecap was on the other side. Okay. So I was imagining your lower leg was with it, but no, it's not. That's even worse. No, it's kind of like this and this, but the kneecaps over here sticking out. And so I do like that. And then I like say I really can't move.
And all the male dancers lift me up and they, they bring me to the chair, they put ice on me and then they bring me to the hospital and, and they, they inject this dye and they analyze what's going on and it's the ligaments here and the cross ligaments there are torn. And so they put me into a cast along cast from my ankle to here. And then, you know, that's when they sent me, um, back to New York the first time when I met Corolla, when I had that cast. So that reminds me of a story that I, I'd hope you don't mind if I share, but, um, I had to fly back to New York in order to recuperate, but I still have the cast on that's very long and I can't bend my knee. And so luckily I, uh, had four seats that were empty. So I had this leg on there and it was really great. And so I'm, I'm like, Oh, this is piece of cake. This is really fabulous. And then I realized, well, I got to go the bathroom, I take the crutches and I walk to the bathroom, you know, and I get into the bathroom, I shut the door. And then I, you know how small those bathrooms are?
Um, and living at home after living on my own, even though it's like somebody telling me what to do and I like hello. Yeah. It's, yeah. Especially when it's an interior decorator. No offense. That's not what your goals
So that's where the insecurity starts to sink in. I am imagining,
And the same thing happened, you know, I was too tall, they didn't have a male dancer till enough for me. And then the insecurity sir. So you know, with, you know, will your mom, you know, your mom telling you you and then yeah, all that stuff and you know, going to parties and you know, the first thing people say in New York is, Oh, so what do you do? Like what do I do? And then I started realizing, you know, who am I if I'm not a ballerina? And I think during those two years when I wasn't with the company, I started taking more classes at Hunter college and new school social research. And I started questioning, questioning who am I?
Stephanie Herman as a person, not as a ballerina. And I think it was hard to find my identity, but I think it was healthy even though it was hard. And so then I realized, okay, start learning who I was as a person and started getting more confident with I am who I am. Not just even if I'm not a ballerina, I'm still a person who is Stephanie Herman today. He sent me up.
I think I'm pretty even tempered except when I'm not. Um, I did get nervous before today cause who I take responsibility very strongly. So as a performer, you know, I really want to make sure that I'm giving, you know, what people really, really want from me and I'm, I think I'm fun. I think I have good sense of humor. I feel I'm a, a really good teacher. Um, so not to be picky,
And I think for me sometimes what I have to do as a person is I, I, I'm very lucky that I am good at a lot of things. I'm good artists. I'm good music, I'm good at acting. It's a good thing. So that there's a lot of dreams I want. I'd love being in film, you know, I want to be an actress, you know? Uh, so, but you can't do it all the same time. So it's almost like even in ballet, I found that at a point in ballet because I'm like very friendly, like to be friendly, but you know, you gotta be very focused. I had like hone in and really discipline myself to be focused in order to do whatever that dream is. And I remember when I really decided I really wanted to make it as a ballerina.
I realized the only way I could make it as a ballerina is I had to really pull in my focus and know, okay, I've got to do my rehearsal. I got to spend two hours on my toe shoes, I gotta bake it, I got to do this, I got, I can't go out and have, well, when you're, when you're in jail, they used to put [inaudible] in the toe and then bake it to harden it so it'd be ready the next day for performance. And sometimes you had skid on the point shoes and it wasn't dried. No idea I'm going to do it was harder than me. Okay, so your toe shoe fix your toes show. I did. I had do idea. I have a TV show, the Stephanie Herman shit. And on the TV show I did, I did a segment on a toe, shoes, toe shoe and torn.
Turing and I talked all about all the things that you had to do to make your toe shoe yours molded to you, molded to your foot the way you wanted. And so if I danced Algon it couldn't be too hard. The toe shoe had to be broken in, right where the arches and it had to be just soft enough so I can go through the foot to change the same Toshio or do you have to get a new toe shoe? So when I'm performing, I perform three ballets in a night. Let's say I was principal ballerina for symphony and see principal ballerina for Agon Pata de and principal ballerina for, I dunno, Western symphony.
So in the dressing room I have 10 pair toe shoes lined up. And then on the bottom of it, add on good add, gone maybe Agon sort of a Western symphony. Great Western symphony almost. So there's an identity behind each of these toe shoes because you have to work the toe shoe and you know, like do you ever get boots and it's like Ali's really hurt and you know you're going to be walking a lot. You don't want to wear those boots or recommend though?
I just breaking in is a whole nother story. I mean I think that takes another half. Okay. That's where I would love to see that picture. If there is one, it's probably of those shoes. I'd be really neat to see if there was like today the Stephanie Herman show.com and watch the archive of toeshoe and Tori do. OK, good. Have that the website. Yes. Sandwich. I want to go to Corollas. You do come though.
She's not around anymore. So will you take me there? [inaudible] get off the elevator. Go up to, I don't remember it was the fourth floor or something. The elevator opens, I think it was the old elevator or you open the door for you to get through and it's an apartment building. Um, like 10 story apartment building, I think, you know, I'm 19 or 21 at the time. So my memories.
Cause I knew Hamilton work with Paul Lottie's. Okay. So, but anyway, I did go and I then there's Corolla and all these different machines in the room. And
Abs in abs and more and more in Marianna. Like she'll sit down and do this and do that whole day, swear seconds, some of that and go more and more open. Split, go. Marmar Mark. Good, very good. Um, it was just always push, push, push, push, push. But I was trained like that and for me it was great having somebody push me,
Did you tell her what it was? Did she analyze you? Like I hear sometimes she does do if you remember or was it just get going? I think we just went down. Okay. Oh, I wanted to. How far past your, at your injury where you, I mean, how many weeks? Months. A year. Oh, no months. Months. Okay. Yeah. So you're still working?
So I did the floor bar with my cast and yeah, it was like, you know, one knee would bad, knew one would be straight with me, you know, finding the abs and meet the ladies up. So, um, I worked with Zina Romit who was very famous at that time and she had like 50 people in the class. That was wonderful working with her. She was fabulous and I think her daughter took it over, you know. So then when I got out of the cast, one is when I went to Karola TRIA and I just was amazed at Carola's energy, you know, she seem like very dynamic for the age that I thought she was and she was like intense and she was right on every little detail, which was fabulous. Coming from, you know, working with George Balanchine's school, American ballet and the whole Balanchine system where everything had to be perfect. She was right there and smacking me if it wasn't, you know, I mean literally smacking me like, but I, you know, I'm used to that in the world of ballet, you know, sometimes like get your tush in abs and shoulders down and did
It's like I can see how more worn deferral you have, the potential. And I'm inspired to take you there with the patients and to talk to you about how to have patients because I see it.
I'm just trying to see if I can parse out more of the actual session. Not the exercises so much, but, um, what did this, was the studio energetic? Uh, loud, quiet. Um,
Or I was working on the machine to warm up as she was finishing with this one client and that, I think I told you about him, who he had the ski accident and they said to him, you'll be paralyzed. And when I finished working with her after I think three months or something, he walked out with a cane. Wow. I mean he would like walk in with crutches and hardly walk and then, and then slowly when he got onto the cane I was like, yes. Wow.
That's what I wondered if they were different. I mean, I don't even know. It was just like when we're done, we were done. It was like, okay, time to go. It wasn't, it didn't feel like that. It felt like it just, we would just worked out.
That's like 40 something years ago. I was wondering in menopause, you know, it's hard to remember certain things, but I don't remember that part. I just, all I know
And then she calls him back and she says, you got it.
That's when Rudolf Nurai of came and he worked with us. And I remember when I was 15 years old, I played hooky from high school before Ming ARDS. And in order to stand on line at the metropolitan opera house to buy standing room tickets and you had to stand on line for three hours. So my girlfriend Marcy and I decided to meet at the high school performing arts on a school day and then go to the metropolitan opera house and stand online. And three hours later we got the last standing room ticket.
We were so excited and I go home and like my mom standing there like this at the door and she goes, your school called and said you played hooky today cause they saw you in front of the school. Like Oh shoot. And she said, you can't go to the ballet tonight and I get no, no, I'm not doing this to me. So luckily she said, will you discuss this with your father? And my father said, well, what do you think is a fair uh, punishment? And I said, I seriously thought about, well let's see, you know, no TV for a week, no play dates for a week. Like is okay. So I got to go and I saw an array of and Margot pontine and all of a sudden now I'm in the ballet company and Nurai of is going to be dancing with us. Wow. I am just like wow. And so he was, he was going to be dancing Agon and I was doing the lead of Agon [inaudible] two dancers dancing together and he was going to be in the pot trois, which was three dancers and he was the male. And there was two female dancers and it was just wonderful.
And then we went, we started going on tour with him. So we went to Greece, we went to Paris, uh, went to Spain. Yeah, all over the world with him. And there was one time, another story, that's the one, I mean he was older at the time when he was with us, the tell the shoes and sure, I'll tell that one. But there was one performance where we did, it was Agon and so the Pata would come out to bow last and the product swab would come out to bell first and he bowed and you know, and then I, I came out for the Potter June bout and I actually got more applauds than him and he kinda like went like that to me. But we were friendly. He really, I felt, he really liked me and it was like, it was a, it was a cute leg and it was like, wow. Like, you know, that was just like, there are definite wows. And Mike went to realize that you are doing that for someone else on that stage.
In other words, they're dancing with Stephanie Herman and nor you have in this case, but, but at what point is there ever a point where you realize that you are that person too? I think only now I do.
You're different than you were yesterday. And I think you need to own who you are and in the moment, and you can judge in the moment who you are and you can decide, well, gee, I don't like what I am right now. What can I do about it? Or you can judge in the moment, say, I don't like where I'm at right now and I can't do anything about it. So it's almost like I feel you have to philosophize and say, well, like I have to be here. So if you're ever driving in a bad neighborhood in your car, you know, you got to drive 10 blocks in that bad neighborhood until you get to the good neighborhood and you're still driving and you know you're going to get there.
So you, you still have to put the foot on the gas and you have to have the hands here and you just live it and move it. And so I feel like in life it's kind of like sometimes you have to trust that awful feeling if you're having an awful feeling that it's going to pass and or do something about it or think about what you can do and be creative. I mean, like my husband says, you can't say no to me because I'm always trying to figure out a way. And I think with my teaching, when I teach people privately, I've worked with a lot of injured people who've come in and they said, well, I've been injured for five years and nobody can correct it. And so I go, well, wait a minute. Let's, let's really analyze this. Let's see what's going on. And I've had some really huge positive results in helping people because I feel it's a challenge. I have one woman who says, I've had migraines since I was a kid. And, and after working 16 sessions with her, she says, you know, I'm finding they're getting better. It's like, you can't say no to me, you know, I mean, it's like, you know, the doctor said you'll never dance again.
And when I was injured the second time, and it's like, you know, you know, I've had a point where five years, six years, seven years ago, they said to me, you need a knee replacement. I, no, I'll probably won't get it for 10 years. And they go, and I remember this doctor saying laughing and then he says, Oh yeah, I forgot who I was talking to. So I haven't had a knee replacement yet. And I have no pain because I think if you find creatively, which muscles really help you, and Paul [inaudible], you know, was really instrumental for that to develop the right muscle to stabilize the right skill to alignment. There's amazing things that can
I go with the guy and I start auditioning and nobody's taking me. And he and I don't work out together. And then all of a sudden I'm living in this apartment alone and my family's there and I'm like, there we go again. It's like, who am I and what am I and what am I going to do with my life? And you know, and then I'm thinking, you know, I think it, it's, it's time to, to move on out of ballet. Maybe because I don't know. I didn't have a coach, you know, I didn't have coach saying to me, you know, you really should go to beige R and you should audition there. I felt very alone and nobody helping me at that time decide what to do with my career while going through a breakup and going through culture shock, being back to New York, being, you know, around my family, which was good and bad, you know. Um, so I'm taking Valley classes to stay in shape and I'm working with some, you know, I started working with all the great ballet teachers at that time and kept up with PyLadies with Ramona from Romana. Sorry. You know, I was living in Switzerland, so we pronounce things differently, you know.
Um, so it was really great working with her and I was getting in shape and everything. And I remember somebody saying, I was saying, I really want to sort of quit, but I want to stay in shape. And no, you can't quit. Like you've got to before and you can't deny the public on your, you know, like what I really want to quit now. No, no, no, no. Please, please. All right. Right. Already, you know, I'll perform, I'll do another performance, but I do another performance. But the thing is now I'm not rehearsing six to 10 hours every day. I'm just rehearsing three hours. And so I felt like at that time, my muscles weren't the strongest that they used to be because I was kind of, half of me was, was trying to quit and half of me was there, you know, that kind of split thing at the time when I was trying to quit and then I couldn't. And they slip and fall, you know, here we are again, right. So, um, I do another performance and there's another woman who's doing a, another part of the ballet and she gets injured.
And so I was the only one who had an understudy for my role and she didn't. So they taught the ballet to me overnight. And her about her part was a lot of back bans. And so I, I learned it and I had to do with the next day, but my muscles weren't ready to go into those back bands, but my bones could. Um, so my bones went, but my muscles like said no, I don't want to go. So I got terribly injured, really bad on my back, really bad injury. And literally after the last performance, I could not even move. I mean, I really couldn't move.
So it wasn't something that happened once and then you couldn't move. It happened over the length. It's no is, it was like one, two, like do I have to, I think two performances. The first one was really bad. I took pills to help me and the second performance just did me in. And, uh, so they put me on prednisone and they said, you should go to the hospital. And I said, no. They said, well, okay, somebody will take care of you. And so my, my family helped take care of me during the 10 days that I was not allowed to move. And eh, S where it got better, but it didn't. And doctor said, I'm sorry, we don't know what's going on.
And so then I heard about Julio Horvath with Gyrotonic expansion system is what you're about. 1983, 84, 84, 86, no, 86. And he was in New York, a four floor walk up and it was great, you know, I mean, Pele's was very parallel and he had the machines that was circular and he was kinda new at that time. And so I befriended him and, um, I was falling in love with this whole system again. And he actually, I was, I was not working and I needed some work. So I had the idea, I said, well, why don't I be your peer agent and why don't I try to sell it to a ballet company? And so I sold it to the Netherlands dance theater in Holland.
And one day, uh, he and his girlfriend at the time came over to my house for dinner and he says, you know, I, I can really help your back. And this was after a year and a half of being in pain, and I'm talking about pain where I could not sit. It was so bad. I can either stand or lie down, but I could not sit. So couldn't go to movies. I couldn't go out to dinner. I could make dinner. So he came over for dinner and he said, you know, I can help you, but it's going to hurt.
So we had some wine and right then at the end of the dinner, I said to him, you know, well, I think you can do it now. I've had enough wine, you know? And so he went, Oh, on my spine, as hard as he could. And you know those cartoons where you see the stars will, I really saw the stars and I said, thank you very much. Goodbye. And he left. And the next morning my back did not hurt. Wow. But then also my knee was killing me and now you're five, eight. So my knees was like really bad. And so I went to the doctor and the doctor said, Oh, well you've got to do six months of physical therapy.
And I did six months of physical therapy. It was really bad. And now I could only walk three blocks without, I mean three blocks. And then it was killing me. I couldn't walk anymore. But I could sit now, go to movies. And so a year and a half of physical therapy and everything and nothing was working and working with Mona and tonic and trying all this physical therapy. And as when I decided, okay, you know, I really need to take ownership.
And so I started researching and studying the body and analyzing different alternative methods and physical therapy and kinesiology and trying to comprehend what's going on. And I think at that time when I was taking physical therapy is when I decided this is boring. Why don't they make music, put music to it and choreograph it with music. And I think that was kind of the inception of the plotters ballet thinking, where are you teaching plays yet? When did you know, I don't think we ever, I was teaching a little bit of holidays in New York somewhere along the way. And pineapple or you or your [inaudible] the dance studio, right? That's what you're talking about. And it was a whole club. It was like what Equinox is turned into.
Pineapple was from London. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, I'm used to hearing it. Okay. So, okay. So I taught there and I taught other places too. But you know, in those days you didn't have to get certified. Right. You know, you just like, Oh, I know [inaudible] I know how to use the machines. I can teach you. I'm Stephanie Herman. Well, I never thought of it that way. Thank you. Anyway, okay, so, so you're doing physical therapy.
I think we're coming to the inception of Claudia's ballet [inaudible] inception of politely spelling, which was physical therapy. But with, with, with [inaudible] and all these alternative methods that I've just, you know, it was kind of like, think of me as a chef and I've got all these different wonderful ingredients and I creatively put it together the way I think it would go together musically.
Seems like the key, you know, I mean the, did you ever see, I mean, I don't like it when people teach and the music is in the background. It's like, it's like you have a heart and you have a body and you have a mind, but you should have a soul and the soul is music. And so it's like when music is just in the background, it's not, it's not part of your whole body. And why shouldn't it be, you know, it's like your spirit comes alive. Yeah. Like beautiful music. And you just go, wow, that's today. So, yeah. So I, I, I'm musical Polonius so, and you have a training program now that you're teaching? I'm certified, I'm certified in Pilates and I've developed Lottie's ballet by Stephanie Herman as a teaching system. And I offer teacher training certifications and people can license a program.
It is now at Equinox in the Bay, uh, in the Northern California city Equinox Bay club, Jewish community center, Google. I know the teachers that are learning it right now. Work also when I bring it to Facebook and I'm talking the building and the company and then I'm talking to other clubs right now. So till I sign the contract I can, I can't say but
But where would you be when all that's happening? You've got teachers doing it slightly, but I would like to teach it to one or two places because I find when I'm teaching I really learn more about the market and who's out there. So like when I'm teaching in the Equinox, I see that the market is very high energy, high level. It's my level five. You know, when I'm teaching at Jewish community center, they're really good. It's, there's two levels. They're level three. And then there's basic basic, which I brought to you today is the very inception basic, uh, which is just knowing the balance in which muscles to find and then the next level is doing it musically. And then every time you learn more about your body you keep going and going and going. There's so many levels. So yes, I would like to teach to learn more about what people like about the choreography and how, you know, test market first before I put out there.
But I've already test marketed it that of pretty well. Yeah. You'll reach your reach a lot of people that today. Yeah. So they'll give you really positive feedback for what? Yeah, cause I basically just reached Northern, uh, California and I guess taught in New York, in Rancho LA Puerta and other places. So I, it's wonderful to hear everybody's feedback positive or if it's not positive, let me know in a nice way. Yeah, it'll be good. Um, so what do I want to do when I grow up? Yeah. Okay. I would like to be in film or you'd like to be in film. I always wants to be in film as an actress, not, not a director. Uh, uh, well, you know, that's the inception of the Stephanie Herman show.
It all started cause I always wanted to be in film, but I hated memorizing lines. So I decided to be the producer and be the host of my own show and write it. What I normally know that certain segments that I've seen of the show was it, it's an a show? No, it was everything. The first show, the very first show was fitness. And I, uh, my husband saw it and he said, you know, don't make it. Pew people don't want to be watch TV to work out. They want to be entertained. Why don't you entertain them? I said, I disagree, but that's what he said to me. And I was like, Hm. And he said, you know, why don't you be like a dinosaur, you know, go out there and a pretty outfit and you know, uh, dance and see them. I said, I haven't danced a long time. So like, okay.
So, um, what, what it started becoming was more of a living life to the fullest. And me interviewing other people of interest, whether it's a chef or uh, the, um, Debra [inaudible], the creator of Rancho LA Puerta, the owner golden door also and or Robert Redford son, James Redford, who does wonderful documentaries to a story on learning differences in schools that help kids. So it's about life because again, it's like music is not in the background, life is not in the background. Life is part of who we are and it should be staying in shape and living your life to the fullest. So I want to bring life to people so that they know out there and yes, I would like to act also. Mm. So hence why I have to stay young. You're quite young, quite energetic.
And after the teacher training is going to take a certain amount of time, you know, and I do know, we'll see what happens.
I like to pretend I am again all the time, but to actually feel like one is really wonderful. So thank you for [inaudible].