Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Pilates Studio Owner, Sabrina Sandvi Berry

Photo: Cravotta Photography

Sabrina Sandvi Berry began her dance training at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School and the Augusta Ballet in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.  She later went on to dance professionally with the Augusta Ballet Company.  After that, she attended The Juilliard School and obtained her BFA. She began a long teaching career with the North Carolina Dance Theater School of Dance in 1997 where she taught several levels of ballet and developed the Modern program and syllabus under then school Director, Darleen Callaghan.  In addition, she choreographed for the trainee and apprentice program and began the program's first Composition class.  During this period, Sabrina formed her own company, American Dance Art for which she choreographed and directed until 2003.  Three years ago she made a transition into teaching the work of Joseph Pilates and now owns and runs her own Sandvi Studio in Charlotte, NC. 

For more information on Sabrina and Sandvi Studio visit .

How old are your children?  Boys? Girls?
My son is almost 6, and my daughter is almost 8.

Where were you in your career when your children were born?
I had been teaching a full schedule of ballet and modern classes at North Carolina Dance Theater's School of Dance for 7 years and also directing and choreographing for a small modern dance company called American Dance Art for 4 years.  The majority of my company members were also dance teachers and our class and rehearsal schedule had to be worked around our main income producing jobs, which meant we would often get together during the week from 7 to 10pm.

How did you plan to juxtapose work and motherhood?  How did what you envisioned square with reality?
I have always seen myself as a working mother because I LOVE my work!  I am so lucky to be involved in work that gives me such pleasure and wonderment to do! BUT, the vision of it was alot more glamorous than reality!  

Because of my own childhood experiences and having been a latch-key kid in the seventies and eighties, it was extremely important to me to be very present in my children's lives.  I also subscribed to the whole idea of attachment parenting and was committed to nursing my children for a year at least.  This meant that I was simply not willing to be away longer than absolutely necessary. I was able to pretty easily maintain my teaching schedule which was not an option to give up, but did often find myself in less than lovely little rooms with a lactation pump and a photo of my child!  Not glamorous!  

I also made the very painful, but right-for-me decision, to disband my company.  There was simply no way that I could have maintained our rehearsal schedule and be able to parent the way that was vitally important to my instincts.

Getting a Pilates certification and opening your own studio is a time consuming venture, even more so with young children. How did you make this happen?
With alot of family support from my husband and mother-in-law.

My switchover into becoming a Pilates teacher was very natural and progressed at a rapid pace.  I was able to have some of the apparatus at my home so I was able to practice and study when there were openings in my schedule.  I did all of my training outside of Charlotte to accomodate my teaching schedule at NCDT, meaning I was flying to NYC, Boston and NJ.  This turned out to be an absolute blessing in my discovery of brilliant teachers whom I consider my Pilates gurus.

My husband's mother was a huge help because she would often take the kids for the weekend and they would have a blast at her lakehouse.  Also, my children were in stages where a nap would occur occasionally!  There was one very tough year when I was teaching Pilates in the mornings and then would have to go out again in the afternoons to teach my ballet and modern classes at NCDT. 

I was also very lucky to have had an amazing babysitter who had been with us since my son was six months old.  She was a tremendous comfort becasue my children really loved her like she was family.  Also, the recession had hit my husband's job pretty hard that year (he's a fence contractor) so he was home alot more than he liked then!

What do you see as your unique appeal as a Pilates practitioner?
Most certainly that would be the idea of exploration!  Even as a ballet and modern teacher, I was always eager and inspired to try new movement concepts.  I am about to attend a workshop with Tom Myers about understanding and reading the body through myofascial meridians and have been studying his book Anatomy Trains.  It's completely overwhelming and intimidating, but I am fascinated by how much more there is to learn and experience.  I think my clients also enjoy taking this continual journey with me!

Teaching Pilates was a career change -- at least somewhat-- and a natural development for you, something that is true for many dancers.  What advice do you have for mothers who want to take their careers in a new direction?  
Well, first I believe it's very important to be moving through life with intuition and deep internal instinct as a guide.  And, when those are the guides, leap forward and don't question or second guess yourself.  It's really just like good improvisation - feel the next move.

What activities are your children involved in?
Ha!  This question makes me laugh because before I had my own children, when I taught younger kids, I'd hear that they were taking all sorts of classes, and, I'd say to myself, "I'll NEVER overschedule my kids like that!"  Well, my daughter takes piano, swimming, art, and now a theater class!  My son only takes swimming and tennis now and wants to add the theater class, which we will let him do in the winter.  Never say never!  We live in the country on some acreage so the rest of the time they really are barefoot country kids running wild!

Your mom-persona in five words or less?
I had a hard time on this one, and asked my son what kind of mother I am.  He said, "Happy." So even if I'm not all the time by any means, it does at least sum up what I'm striving for in our lives each day.

Photo: Cravotta Photography

1 comment:

  1. Sabrina,is truly a teacher of life from dance to pilates but the numer one focus is being a wonderful loving wife and mother.


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