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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Julia Nunnally Duncan Featured at High Country Writers Meeting at Watauga County Public Library

June 14, 2018 from 10am to 12pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be the featured presenter at the High Country Writers Meeting on June 14, 10 a.m.-12 noon at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. She will discuss her inspirations and the process of becoming a published author. She will present readings from her latest books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home and give a preview of her forthcoming poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes. A book signing will follow her presentation.See More
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Hip hop artists can now sign up for a PRO UNLIMITED PLUS account. Get unlimited space to upload higher quality 320kbps MP3's, receive 2-3 radio spins a day on http://RapMonsterRadio.com  along with weekly blog promotion posts on over 65 hip hop websites.…See More
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Get interviewed by Lil Dee of Rap Monster Radio.  Rap Monster Radio is an online hip hop radio station with more than 60,000 listeners a month in over 180 countries.We will interview and provide you with an mp3 copy of the interview.Get the worldwide exposure you deserve.…See More
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A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
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Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
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Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
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Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
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Feb 15

Dance critic applies grace to every move

by Rob Neufeld

 

            It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.

            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W. Norton).

            Kaufman, then a veteran dance critic for the “Washington Post,” had already expanded her coverage to include such dancelike subjects as the Tour de France and the Changing of the Guard.  Next, she’d decided, she’d write about Hollywood’s “Golden Age” movie stars, how they walked, faltered, and gestured.

            “The first movie I popped into my DVD,” she said in a recent interview with me, “was ‘The Philadelphia Story,’ and I knew instantly that the core of my essay was going to be about Cary Grant because that word—“grace”—just dropped into my mind when I saw him.”

            Kaufman presents her book at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville Saturday evening, Jan. 9..

 

Everyday contexts

 

            Kaufman’s subject has become a beacon to her, as she follows it to sports arenas, religious practices, restaurant kitchens, emergency rooms, and ice trucks.

            “There’s so much art all around us, so much beauty,” she explained compassionately—“you know, in the way people tend to fall into step when they walk together; or with an easy exchange in a coffee shop between a barista and a customer; or with a homeless person on the street corner.”

“Have you ever thought of creating—or have you created any choreography?” I asked Kaufman.

            “No, that’s not my art,” she replied.  However, her writing might find expression in a documentary, as “some people are working on it,” she said.

            Passages in “The Art of Grace” would make great filmed scenes, I think—for example, the restaurant kitchen Kaufman writes about in the chapter, “Everyday Grace.”

            “Eight cooks are squeezed together like a submarine crew,” she relates.  “Still, they swivel with graceful ease.”  They bend and spring.  “These toqued commandos glide calmly through the same motions again and again.  They’re a hairbreadth away from ruin, mere seconds from scorched shoat.”

            I had to stop at the word, “toqued.”  Did Kaufman mean “torqued”?  No, toque is the little hat, that’s funny.

            “The Art of Grace,” is a good mix of celebrity anecdotes; timely advice; exuberant story-telling; and delicious wit, though the word-love sometimes spirals into romantic moon-shots.

 

Longed-for expression

 

            From childhood, Kaufman had been a story-teller and seeker.  Dance became a main channel within that interest, partly because of a childhood experience.

            “Born with a heart defect that required surgery when I was seven,” she writes, “I was strictly kept away from physical exertion until a year after I’d had the operation.  I watched and absorbed vicariously all I could of others’ play and sports.  Ballet lessons...finally gave me a way in to the much-longed-for world of physical expression.”

            In the chapter, “To Become Unstuck,” Kaufman reports on a dance class for  people with Parkinson’s Disease at Mark Morris Dance Group’s headquarters.

            “If we think of grace as a magical combination of phrasing, fluidity, musicality, suspension, (and) the sense that one movement leads to the next—all that goes away with Parkinson’s,” Kaufman quotes David Leventhal, program director of “Dance for PD.”

            Beginning with repetitive gliding and expressiveness—not memorization of steps—the class leads participants to a new sense of themselves.

 

Kinds of grace

 

            The meaning of grace contains the ease of movement that people try to attain, the relief of revelation, the power of generosity, and the humility of good manners, Kaufman explicates.

            Kaufman’s saint of gracefulness and graciousness, Cary Grant, purposely flubbed his lines if his co-star’s delivery was off, so that the scene would have to be reshot without embarrassing his partner.

            When the House Un-American Activities Committee revoked Charlie Chaplin’s visa in 1952, Grant announced his retirement, stood up for Chaplin, and told the nation, “We should not go off the deep end.”  In 1940, Grant had donated his entire salary from “The Philadelphia Story” to the British war effort.

            Also that year, Grant had starred in “His Girl Friday” with Rosalind Russell.  Seated at lunch with his ex-wife and her new fiancé, Grant’s character delivers a cutting line that is full of play and pain. 

            The coup de grace in this exchange, Kaufman relates, occurs when an action “that starts in his neck and trickles across the top of his suit jacket shouts out loud and clear that Hildy (his ex) is making a stupid mistake...That liquid, nearly imperceptible roll of a muscle hangs there like an echo...a shiver in the emotional current.”

 

More of the interview

 

            “Your book has been a passion of yours for a long time,” I acknowledged in my interview with Kaufman.

            “It’s true,” she said.  “It’s a topic that I couldn’t find written about already in a way that tries to identify the grace that we see and experience in our everyday lives.”

            When she said she’d been a shy and somewhat socially inept person as a child, I asked her how grace had helped overcome that.

            “One thing to bear in mind,” she advised, “is to take the focus off yourself.  One of the 1930s manuals that I quote in the book said, ‘If you feel self-conscious, think of the other person, and you can’t hold two ideas in your mind at the same time.’”

            “Have you had an eye-opening experience of grace lately?” I wondered.

            “In fact, just a couple of weeks ago,” she recounted, “I was in a grocery store café, doing work on my laptop.  It was a quiet evening.  From across the room, a fellow started singing...the whole Beatles canon!  I was thinking to myself, ‘Why?  I was having such a good time here.’” 

“As I was listening to him,” she continued, “he got to ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and started singing the line, ‘All the lonely people.’  I felt a tear.  It was one of those moments of two impulses crashing up against each other—a little bit of frustration, and then a lot of compassion.   It was a moment of grace.”

 

AUTHOR EVENT

Sarah Kaufman presents her new book, “The Art of Grace: On Moving Well through Life,” 7 p.m., Sat., Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville (254-6734).

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