About Simone (she/her)

How I got into Rolfing…

When I was 3 1/2 years old, my mom started to be somewhat concerned about my huge feet. She stopped dressing me in skirts and sent me to ballet class instead. If I was to look like Goofy, I might at least learn to move gracefully. I fell in love with dancing shortly after. (My feet stopped growing, too, thank God.) However, I continued to take classes in whatever form of dance was available – ballet, tap, jazz, ethnic. I was convinced I would become a ballerina.

My knees thought otherwise, though. After some surgical interventions and a tearful termination of a ballet-career that had not even started yet, I tried to resign myself to a life without dance. Not so good. A few years later, my willingness to accept the original “If it hurts, don’t move.” – policy of my orthopedists was gone (theirs probably, too) and I decided to simply ignore the doctors’ prognoses and start dancing again. As a concession, I switched to ballroom dance, which I thought would be easier on the knees.

It wasn’t really, but at last I had found “my” form of dance. No matter what my body was saying, I would not give that one up. Instead, I developed a keen interest in learning how to reconcile correct dance-technique with the biomechanical limits of my body. Of course, this quickly developed into a search for ways to change my body’s limits. Receiving Rolfing bodywork turned out to be an amazingly effective way to push the envelope.

So, when my dance-partner decided to quit after we made the Austrian National Team, the Rolfing training presented itself as a promising alternative. I was still trying to figure out how to let a body be open enough for movement impulses to travel freely and without pain. Moreover, Rolfing SI had the invaluable advantage of not requiring a partner.

Thus, I started to study anatomy, got all my credentials together and enrolled at the Rolf Institute. I was certified as a Rolfer in 1998, opened a practice in Austria and started to go back for continuing education workshops focusing on movement.

Finding a dance partner proved more difficult, but when the opportunity arose, my husband and I moved to New York. I greatly enjoyed the city and I was happy to dance Latin American ballroom professionally there. Mainly, though, I worked as a Rolfer. As things go in NYC, most of my clients were deeply involved in fitness or the performing arts – quite a change from Austria, where my average client would be a 65 year old lady with some health problems. Working with dancers, actors and singers in NY, I particularly enjoyed adapting the work to their special movement sensibilities on the one hand, as well as supporting quests for self-development on the other.

Through my contacts in ballroom dance, I was invited to Hong Kong for a couple of weeks in 2003 to offer Rolfing there. Even though that was only a relatively short trip, it was chock-full of work and I learned a lot about how culture circumscribes the body. Having done Rolfing Structural Integration on three continents now, in three notably different cultures, I am amazed at how strongly our bodies adapt to cultural contexts – while nonetheless the basic core of problems (backaches, postural limits, stress) stays the same.

2004 proved to be a very exciting year. I had a baby daughter named Anneken in January. The first few months, admittedly, I spent getting used to motherhood and being fascinated by the amount of energy such a tiny being emanates. But as much as I loved NYC, after half a year of working hard to get the baby to sleep amidst constant noise, I was ready to move. In a very timely fashion, my husband got a position at Brown University and we now live in (much) quieter surroundings.

Three years later, my second daughter Skye was born. From the very beginning, she made unambiguously clear that she is her own person. She is interpreting the developmental process of a growing human quite differently from my firstborn, and so teaching me how the same basic pattern can take on very different expressions.

I have been learning a lot from my children: about how movement (as well as behavioral) patterns develop and can be guided and supported if we only take into account biological rhythms, how important it is to adapt our technological environment to the needs of a living body, and how to stay adaptable to every changing demands and possibilites. Watching my daughters grow and develop has been joyful work and I am thankful every day to have them.

In 2014, kids were finally grown enough to allow me to start a movement practice again. What started as a dare has turned into the second movement love of my life: aerial circus arts. Being an aerialist at my age challenges not only my perceptions of what is possible, but also, in a very concrete way, my movement creativity. Just like competitive ballroom dance decades ago inspired me to find ways to squeeze better performance out of a sometimes recalcitrant body, aerial silks now challenge me to find ways to keep training, to keep improving flexibility and strength, to find grace in movement with an always recalcitrant body. I am learning that what holds me back most are not the inevitable aches and pains, but fear. I am learning that, with patience and skillful help, a whole lot more is possible than I had thought.