When Allison Fall was three years old, she wanted to be a dancer.
“I was very clear about it,” she recalls.
“When I was eight, my dad took me to New York City and I bought this poster, and it said, ‘New York Is Dance’ and on the bottom were all these dancers’ legs. That poster hung in my room from age nine until I left for college.”
As part of working toward her goal, Allison bought a book about how to develop a dancer’s body.
“I was just really interested in how muscles work so that I could be a better dancer,” she says.
Allison’s fixation on the human body grew even more in college when she decided to pursue a degree in ceramics.
“I was seeing body shapes in everything I was building, because it’s just how my eye works,” she says. “I was thinking about space in terms of how the body moves, architecturally even, and how things are supported. I’ve always just been really interested in it.”
She used her fascination with anatomy to help her learn new skills as well. As a child, Allison was not taught to swim. “But my friends had a pool. So I jumped in the water and I watched them, and I taught myself. I’m like ‘oh, they are doing that, I’m going to do that’ and I figured how to move in water. That’s just the way I am.”
No surprise, Allison became a professional dancer—contemporary ballet, modern, traditional, Italian folkdance, some traditional Indian dance, and classical ballet, too. “A bunch of companies no one has ever heard of,” she says modestly. “But some companies in New York and Columbus, Ohio.”
In 2003, Allison started teaching Pilates. She has since taught Pilates in New York City, Chicago, Berlin, and Davis, California (where she is based today). Learning to teach Pilates was an extensive process—more than 300 hours of work.
When she first started learning to teach Pilates, she took a class with a lead teacher in Chicago who brought the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System as one of her instructional tools. Learning anatomy is a key part of the Pilates process.
Today, Allison is using Anatomy in Clay® Learning System to train Pilates teachers, too. “I felt it would be the best way for my students to be able to learn anatomy, because when you’re teaching and you’re trying to understand how the muscles are working, when you build it, you have that three-dimensionality of it, the hands-on connections.”
Allison shared her backstory and her background with dancing, ceramics, and Pilates when she attended a two-day professional development at the non-profit Anatomy in Clay® Centers in Denver. She flew out from California with one of her students, a Pilates teacher in training.
With Anatomy in Clay® Learning System, says Allison, “you can understand how the muscle moves better. You can understand how it works better, and even the nerves and stuff, it’s like, ‘oh, you feel tingling? Oh, well, this must be happening.’ And to be able to see that on a MANIKEN® Model and understand it without a book is amazing. I’ve done art classes, like life sculpture, where you build it all, but it wasn’t like an anatomically-correct process.”
Anatomy in Clay® Learning System, she says, “is a cool way to be able to share (anatomy) with them without using my own body anymore …Now it’s more direct.”
Allison is very glad she was a dancer. And she is also very glad she earned a fine arts degree in ceramics. But she’s particularly proud, today, of being able to help others. Most people, as she puts it, don’t think very much about how all of us human beings are put together.
We know she’s right about that. And we appreciate her efforts to change that fact—one dancer, one artist, and one Pilates student at a time.
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