Why write a book about Romana? I have been asked this more than a few times over the past six years. At first, I was surprised that someone could ask this. Wasn’t it obvious? She was the Grand Dame of Pilates, the Keeper of the Flame, the world’s Leading Expert. Her story must be told!
I am much calmer now when people ask why I am writing Romana’s biography. I smile and try not to get lost in the memories of this book writing journey.
The journey began with a few simple conversations with a client, Carol J. Craig. (Carol is now my co-author.) We talked about Joseph Pilates and his history. We talked about Romana and how little information there was available about her life. Carol is an amateur genealogist and began to search the internet for information about Romana. Carol found so much information that we had to add time to her Pilates lessons just so we could talk about her newest “find”. At one point we looked at each other and realized that someone needed to tell Romana’s story. Why not us; two unassuming Midwest gals that love the Pilates method and love learning about people.
Once we had enough information, we approached Romana’s family for their permission. Her daughter, Sari Santo and her son, Paul Mejia were a bit confused. Who were we and what did we want to do exactly? We were prepared. We had put together a small photo album of the information we had collected. I think what caught their interest was how much information we had about Romana’s parents and grandparents. (Spoiler Alert: Romana does come from royalty, sort of.) We must have made a compelling presentation because Sari and Paul both gave their permission and help.
Then the real work began; tracking down documents, files, photographs, people with stories to tell. One of the (now not so private) private jokes between Carol and I, was that I talk to the living and she talks to the dead. I lined up interviews with Romana’s family, friends, teachers, and students. Carol dug deep into the archives online and in libraries to help us tell this story. She even hired a researcher from Ukraine to track down Kryzanowsky family records. Our library of reference books grew so much she had to keep ordering book shelves to hold all the books we now own.
As of the writing of this blog, 90% of the research is done. I have spent as much time as possible over the past year or so writing. Seventy-five percent of the book is written. It has been a wonderful experience to put together all the “finds” that will tell the story of Romana and her family. Her father was an artist and we have found some of his original artwork that has never been seen before. Her mother was married four times but only had one true love in her life. Romana’s maternal grandmother ran a hospital from her home and worked as a midwife for many years. Her maternal grandfather owned a carriage and buggy company.
In the process of outlining this book, we realized that we had to put Romana’s life in context. As a result, we will also be telling the story of Joe and Clara Pilates, George Balanchine and other lesser known people who were important in her life. The reader will journey from St. Petersburg, Russia to Paoli, Indiana to New York City.
It is my intention with this blog to share some of what we have found. To share the side stories that went into the making of this book. To keep answering the question “Why write a book about Romana?”
Until next time. Love All Around.