HILLS & GARDENS: Pilates on the pier

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

There’s something mesmerizing about watching the almost perfect human synchronization at Olympic events such as synchronized swimming and diving. A particularly practiced and proficient dance troupe can achieve the same effect.  

It’s an altogether different experience — and a satisfying one — to be part of simultaneous group movement oneself, however imperfect, and I think this helps explain the long-lived attraction of yoga and Pilates classes. Is it part and parcel of our herd instinct? Perhaps.

If you’ve never tried one of these disciplines, you might like to, and you can do it gratis while watching the sun set on the river.

Lou Cornacchia, founder of Cobble Hill’s Body in Balance Studio, teaches Pilates classes every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on the fishing pier near the sand volleyball courts behind One Brooklyn Bridge Park. The classes are one of the many free activities offered by Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The Pilates method is a popular regimen for developing core strength devised by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1883. Pilates counted many famous dancers and choreographers among his adherents, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham.

Lou Cornacchia opened her private studio after many years as a dance manager and a teacher at Eastern Athletic Clubs in Brooklyn Heights. She emphasizes core muscle strength, spinal alignment, and shoulder stabilization in her classes. Although she welcomes newcomers over the age of 16, many in the Pier 6 group have studied with her for years. Thus, Cornacchia gears the class to intermediates.

Interested? Bring a thick mat and a stretching band to the pier for Pilates and visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park website,, for additional information and to download a waiver.

Art at the intersection

At the intersection of Smith and Bergen streets, readers, texters, and schmoozers sit on the art. And although there are granite blocks for this purpose, it is very hot on this corner because the F Train running under Smith Street precludes trees. Still, this Department of Transportation-commissioned art project beckons.

Contemplate our own revolutionary past at a DOT-commissioned art installation at Bergen and Smith streets. Photo by Trudy WhitmanThe installation by Sasha Chavchavadze is called “Battle Pass — Revolution II.” It is the second in a series of public art installations exploring Revolutionary imagery by marking sites of the great Battle of Brooklyn.

An exhibit label explains that the piece was inspired by the “Liberty Pole,” a ship’s mast planted in the ground by Revolutionaries, and by the Walt Whitman poem “The Centenarian’s Story.” Lines from the poem — "Do you hear the clank of the muskets?" — are engraved on wooden planks displayed on the pole.

The art is an initiative of Proteus Gowanus Interdisciplinary Gallery in partnership with DOT’s Urban Art Program and the Boerum Hill Association. In the past, DOT sponsored an installation by Christina Kelly at this site devoted to the memory of local Native American groups. The agro-art consisted of the traditional “three sisters” food crops — corn, beans, and squash.

DOT accepts applications from artists in collaboration with community groups to produce site-responsive art on an ongoing basis, reviewing applications twice a year. Organizations are eligible to receive up to $5,000 toward direct project costs. So choose a cool morning, go, sit, and ponder our past at Bergen and Smith.

August 8, 2012 - 5:36am



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