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Instead of signaling the end for Herman, this was merely a transition into a fulfilling new phase. She spent three years studying alternative treatments and managed to heal herself. For the past 30 years, she has used her vast knowledge of kinesiology, bone rhythms, Pilates and Gyrotonics to help others, through classes, workshops and private consultations. Herman recounts her remarkable journey in a multimedia presentation, “Ballerina: A One-Woman Play.” Utilizing dance, music, visuals and spoken word, the world premiere takes place at Oshman Family JCC, Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, Palo Alto, on Aug. 30.
Herman was destined to dance, “When I was born, the doctor said he said he never saw a baby with such big arches, He said, ‘She should be a ballerina.’”, She had a demanding mother, who had been a child prodigy pianist, so Herman struggled with insecurities, “I was taught, No matter how hard you try, you’ve got to try harder.’”, Growing up in Manhattan, Herman attended public school in a dangerous neighborhood, where she was threatened with violence, When she was 12, she attended the school’s cartoon ballet shoes ballet group, There Herman was dazzled by a 14-year-old ballerina, Learning that the girl attended the School of American Ballet, Herman resolved to study there..
She also attended the famed High School for the Performing Arts. Herman studied with Balanchine and became a prima ballerina for his companies in Switzerland. “He said, ‘You have to give 200 percent.’ I feel I have such an amazing technique because of him. He worked with me and inspired me.”. Throughout her career, Herman had to overcome ballet companies’ resistance to hiring female dancers of her height, 5-foot-9. But talent and dedication enabled her to perform all of her dream roles. She toured throughout Europe.
A highlight came when she danced with Nureyev, “The second we met, it was like our souls were connected,” Herman says, The dancing career brought acclaim, but also anxiety, “As a principal ballerina, there’s huge pressure, It’s not just bowing and getting the flowers.”, Injuries began to plague Herman in 1973, She battled back, But in 1986, the damage was too great to continue, So she found a new direction — therapeutic exercise, “I vowed to help others, With my background as a ballerina and comprehending the balance cartoon ballet shoes and imbalances of the body, I could analyze the body in a way that doctors don’t necessarily do, I educate my clients on how, neuropathically, to activate different muscles that they need to develop.”..
She married the Bay Area’s Richard Singer and they adopted a daughter from China, Charlotte Xiao Mei Singer, now 17. Herman enjoyed popularity with her trademarked CoreTique, Muscle Ballet and Pilates Ballet. She teaches at Bay Club in Redwood Shores and Equinox in Palo Alto, as well as Oshman. She leads workouts that combine movement, rhythm and dance to build strength, endurance and flexibility. DVDs are available. But Herman’s urge to perform resurfaced. She took acting classes, but tired of waiting for her agent to call. She needed to make something happen herself. After seeing Mikhail Baryshnikov’s one-man show, “Letter to a Man,” about legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinksy, Herman decided to create her own one-woman show.
Convincing herself that she was capable of creating such a project tested Herman’s newfound confidence, “I started thinking, ‘I’m not good enough.’ But there was an exercise in acting where you had to own your talent, There was part of me that couldn’t own my talent, because the way I was trained was, ‘You’re never good enough and you always have to be better, better, better.’, “The people I’ve worked with in cartoon ballet shoes my career were the best in the world, So I always thought, ‘No, I can never be as good as them.’ But now that I’m older and more mature, I realized it was time to say, ‘I’m talented.’ And to own it, That’s hard to do.”..
Her cousin, a violinist, invited her to attend a concert. The piece was “Spiegel im Spiegel” (“Mirror in Mirror”). As Herman closed her eyes and listened, she envisioned a dramatic work, encompassing a ballerina’s life, starting with a 5-year-old facing the mirror and, at the end, a 66-year-old facing the mirror. Oshman’s cultural arts director, Ronit Widmann-Levy, was enthusiastic about the possibility of presenting her one-woman show there. But their calendar opening gave Herman only three months to go from concept to completion.
“I’m the type of person, if I see an opportunity, I say, ’Let’s do it!’ There’s part of me that feels like I never want fear to stop me from living my life, When I feel the most fear, is when I push myself the most.”, The performance will be filmed for her “The Stephanie Herman Show,” seen on local access channels, as well as YouTube, During the post-play reception and Q and A, audience members can gaze at such cartoon ballet shoes items as Nureyev’s ballet shoes, Also on view will be paintings and photographs of Herman by Leila Beverleigh and Azita Gandjei, respectively..