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The Art of Falling by [Kathryn Craft]
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The Art of Falling Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 153 ratings

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Penelope Sparrow wakes up in the hospital, she’s told she fell 14 stories and is lucky to be alive. But with bruises and pain and a broken bone, Penny faces the possibility of life without dance. All Penny ever wanted was to be a dancer, but her five-foot, eight-inch stature and wide hips (despite a lifetime of eating just enough “to stay on the right side” of anorexia) meant rejection from the traditional five-foot, five-inch and 95-pound–worshipping dance world. Penny slowly pieces together the fragments of what happened that night on the balcony—and how it relates to her former, and complex, relationship with famed dancer Dmitri. Deepening relationships with Angela, a cystic fibrosis–sufferer; Marty, a baker; Bebe, her former mentor; and others carry Penny along as she comes to reevaluate what it means to live, love, and accept less than perfection. Craft, a former dancer and choreographer, captures the entanglement of pain and despair and beauty and hope that often knits our lives and, through the character of Penny, illustrates how self-acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. --Ann Kelley --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

My muscles still won't respond. It's been hours since they promised a doctor, but no one has come. All I can do is lie on this bed, wishing for some small twinge to tell me exactly what is wrong. My body: a still life, with blankets.

I'd settle for inching my foot back beneath the covers. I command my foot to flex. To point. To burrow beside its mate. It ignores me, as do my hands when I tell them to tend to the situation.

Why has someone covered me so haphazardly? Or-could it be?-that in my dreams, I had somehow moved that foot? I will it to move again-now.

It stays put.

This standoff grows more frightening by the moment. If my focus weakens, I'll fall prey to larger, hungrier questions. Only motion can soothe me; only sweat can wash away my fear.

From somewhere to my right, I hear an old woman's crackling cough. My eyes look toward the sound, but I am denied even this small diversion; a flimsy curtain hides her.

I close my eyes against this new reality: the bed rails, a constant beeping over my shoulder, and the device clamped to my index finger. In my mind, I replace the flimsy curtain with a stretch of burgundy velour and relax into its weight. Sink. Deep. I replay each sweep, rise, and dramatic dip of Dmitri's choreography. My muscles seek aspects of motion: that first impulse. The building momentum. Moments of suspension, then-ah, sweet release. When the curtain rises, I will be born anew.

• • •

"Is time. Merde." The half-whisper I remember is intimate; Dmitri's breath tickles my ear. With a wet finger, he grazes a tender spot on my neck, for luck, then disappears among the other bodies awaiting him. My skin tingles from his touch.

The work light cuts off, plunging me into darkness. On the other side of the curtain, eleven hundred people, many of them critics and producers, hush. We are about to premiere Zephyr, Dmitri's first full-evening work.

I follow small bits of fluorescent tape across the floor to find my place. The curtain whispers as it rises. Audience expectation thickens the air.

Golden light splashes across the stage, and the music begins. Dmitri stalks onstage. I sense him and turn. Our eyes lock. We crouch-slow. Low. Wary. Mirror images, we raise our arms to the side, the downward arc from each shoulder creating powerful wings that hover on an imagined breeze. One: Our blood surges in rhythm. Two: A barely perceptible plié to prepare. Three: We soar.

Soon our limbs compress, then tug at the space between us. We never touch but are connected by intent, instinct, and strands of sound from violins. I feel the air he stirs against my skin.

Other dancers enter and exit, but I don't yield; Dmitri designed their movements to augment the tension made by our bodies.

I become the movement. I fling my boundaries to the back of the house; I will be bigger than ever before. I'm a confluence of muscle and sinew and bone made beautiful through my command of the oldest known language. I long to move others through my dancing because then I, too, am moved.

Near the end of the piece, the other four dancers cut a diagonal slash between Dmitri and me. Our shared focus snaps. Dissonance grows as we perform dizzying turns.

The music slows and our arms unfold to reduce spin. Dmitri and I hit our marks and reach toward each other. We have danced beyond the end of the music. In silence, within a waiting pool of light, we stretch until we touch, fingertip to fingertip.

Light fades, but the dance continues; my energy moves through Dmitri, and his pierces me. The years, continents, and oceans that once held us apart could not keep us from this moment of pure connection.

Utter blackness surrounds us, and for one horrible moment I lose it all-Dmitri, the theater, myself.

But when the stage lights come up, Dmitri squeezes my hand. His damp curls glisten.

Applause crescendos and crashes over us. Dmitri winks before accepting the accolades he expects.

I can't recover as quickly.

No matter how gently I ease toward the end of motion, it rips away from me. I feel raw. Euphoria drains from my fingertips, leaving behind this imperfect body.

I struggle to find myself as the others run on from the wings. We join hands in a line, they pull me with them to the lip of the stage-and with these simple movements I am returned to the joyful glow of performance. We raise our hands high and pause to look up to the balcony, an acknowledgment before bowing that feels like prayer. My heart and lungs strain and sweat pushes through my pores and I hope never to recover. I am gloriously alive, and living my dream.

The dance recedes and the applause fades, but I'm not ready. My muscles seek aspects of motion-where's the motion?-I can feel no impulse. Momentum stalls. I am suspended and can find no release.

The curtain falls, the bed rails return, and I am powerless to stop them.

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • File Size : 1279 KB
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print Length : 368 pages
  • ASIN : B00F3D8KKQ
  • Publication Date : January 28, 2014
  • Publisher : Sourcebooks Landmark (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: : English
  • Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 153 ratings