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The Pilates Pelvis: Racial Implications of the Immobile Hips

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2014


This article examines the treatment of the pelvis in the Pilates exercises “Single Leg Stretch” and “Leg Circles.” The teaching practices of the hips, as commonly explained in Pilates educational manuals, reinforce behaviors of a noble-class and racially “white” aesthetic. Central to this article is the troubling notion of white racial superiority and, specifically, the colonizing, prejudicial, and denigrating mentality found in the superiority of whiteness and its embodied behaviors. Using the two Pilates exercises, I illuminate how perceived kinesthetic understandings of race in the body may be normalized and privileged. By examining the intersections between dance and Pilates history, this article reveals the ways embodied discourses in Pilates are “white” in nature, and situates Pilates as a product of historically constructed social behaviors of dominant Anglo-European culture.

Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 2014 

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