Today Kathryn Craft, author of The Art of Falling is stopping by the blog!!
Dance ignited my passion. I leapt into the world feet first and ready for action. When my nose wasn’t in a novel I was skipping across chalked patterns, diving from springboards, slicing hills with my skis, flipping over high jumps—then trying to do any or all of it on the balance beam. But nothing set me aflame like the dance class I discovered when I was sixteen. The complexities of coordinating the body’s 640 muscles and 206 bones to express myself made me feel powerful in a whole new way.
Dance was a defiant act. When my mother dropped me off at college, and I hugged her goodbye with tears in my eyes, she said, “You can major in anything you want—as long as it isn’t dance.” Looking back, I see that my mother may have feared the change dance had made within me. At the time her power play made me so angry that I didn’t even tell her that the college I’d chosen didn’t have a dance major. I majored in biology, minored in dance, and let her sweat it out.
Dance encouraged my sense of contribution. Board positions I held in the college dance company prepared me for similar work in the dance and literary communities. Until then I’d done what I needed to excel academically—but no more. Dance inspired me to give of myself above and beyond what was required.
Dance, although a wordless medium, allowed me to find my voice. Choreographing changed my world. I was no longer executing learned materials, but seeking out the resources necessary to develop a theme, order my thoughts, and create something—from nothing more than bodies moving through space—that had never before existed.
Dance led me to writing criticism. Our connection to dance is as primal at our earliest experiences of being bounced in our mother’s arms while listening to her heartbeat. Not everyone has a way to speak about the way viewing a performance stirs them. Lending words to movement was my honor for nineteen years.
My writing led me to fiction. I had already stopped dancing for six years when tragedy befell my family, and my husband committed suicide. Yet I remembered how to seek out the resources necessary to develop a theme, how to order my thoughts, and create something that had never before existed. Through story, I knew I could find my way back to hope.
These days I dance on the page. My words take on rhythms that charge both the page with the pop and crackle of what it means to come fully alive. The Art of Falling only exists because I, like Penelope Sparrow, once honored my love for movement enough to risk setting my foot upon the stage. Penny and I would like to invite our readers to the dance.