On Facebook, a friend of mine posted this brief video of a 14-year-old-guitarist:
Watching the young musician and reading the description that says she played it “effortlessly” set me to thinking about that word. Since I was her age, I have admired people who made things that were really hard look easy. My idea of grace has, ever since, been exactly that—making the effort invisible.
The actor Paul Newman once described in an interview an encounter he had with Spencer Tracy. Newman was a young actor; the director of a movie allowed him to hang around the studio set in LA while Tracy was working. One day, Tracy approached Newman and said, “They tell me you want to be an actor.” Newman mumbled an affirmative answer. Tracy grasped him by the shoulder and said, “Don’t ever let anyone catch you doing it.”
You couldn’t see Tracy doing it in this courtroom scene:
And when Newman got his turn, he followed Tracy’s advice. Here is Newman in court:
THE prime example of making art look effortless is, of course, the dancing of Fred Astaire. In his movies, his dances are shown with only one or two cuts. Unlike more recent films where most dance sequences have more to do with editing, Astaire’s movies show him in performance. To achieve this, Astaire did not just show up one day and wing it. He typically rehearsed for three months before getting up in front of the camera. He put day upon day of effort into perfecting dances that were going to be seen only on film, where they could be edited and re-edited. But Astaire practiced them until he could dance them this effortlessly:
To me, this is the very essence of grace. (That's Eleanor Powell with him, by the way; no slouch she!) Enormous work has gone in. The performers have invested such heart, such determination, that the effort disappears, and all that the world sees is the unselfconscious art.
Annamaria – Monday, by the grace of Leighton