The Crack Between the Worlds: A Dancer's Memoir of Loss and Faith

The Crack Between the Worlds: A Dancer’s Memoir of Loss and Faith by Maggie Kast

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Intrigued by the title, I came to this book through the combination of my own bereaved parenthood, spiritual engagement, and dance. I found the subtitle a bit misleading; it is more autobiography than grief-focused memoir, with a greater emphasis on the experience of faith rather than the experience of loss. Engagement with Catholicism and its reflection in her personal and professional lives forms the core of her story. Married at 21, bearing five children, losing one at 3, finding the church out of an avowedly secular upbringing; yet the mindset and passion of the dancer (I began calling her ‘Miss Kast’ in my head) shine through. Her studies with Martha Graham yielded possession of “Martha’s physical impulse, a tiny bit of her sacred self.” The book takes the form of a traditional memoir; “Kast-as-narrator” is far more developed than “Kast-as-character.”She recounts and analyzes her experience, rather than immersing the reader in the felt experience of the key moments of her life, as is more popular today. She constantly doubts her calling to dance, her passion, her skill as a choreographer, yet continues ti dance and to make work well into her forties. Yet as with most bereaved parents, the moment of loss is ever-present, and even at the end of her story, the simple admission that “there was nothing she could do” is a painful reminder of the limits of life, no matter how well lived. And this life was well-lived, indeed. Maggie Kast is an admirable woman and I am pleased to have been able to spend some time with her in this memoir.

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