In The Art of Grace, Pulitzer Prize winning dance critic Sarah Kaufman explores the meaning of moving gracefully. While thought and reason are celebrated, it turns out our brains exist so that our bodies will move better. Those who cannot flee fast, fall to the predator.
Our brains are fine-tuned to run autonomic functions and organize physical response.As numerous physicians – cardiologists, neuroscientists, gerontologists – have commented, puzzles and crosswords are useful if you enjoy doing them, but if your goal is to stay sharp and mobile as you age, frequent exercise provides superior benefit.
That information comes late in the book. The apex rises gradually after we’ve been treated to written and photographic homage to the movement styles of an array of iconic performers, entertainers, athletes, and dancers. We’re encouraged to consider that graceful action enhances public spaces and improves well-being. Can’t argue with that.
This gentle book supports a message to humans to be conscious of the physical toll wrought by stress, haste and ill-considered action .
In the spirit of ‘being the change you wish to see in the world’, the book closes with a practical list for graceful living, condensed here.
- Slow down and plan
- Engage in compassion and tolerance
- Make room for others
- Make things easy for people
- Give yourself a break – take it easy
- Lighten your load
- Care for your body
- Seek and notice grace, especially when you don’t expect it
- Practice generosity
- Enjoy life
Sarah L. Kaufman
W. Norton & Co., Inc. New York, 2016
310 pages, index, photos.