‘Wash Post’ Kaufman Takes Home Pulitzer for Criticism

By: Jennifer Saba

Sarah Kaufman was on assignment in Mississippi when she got a call from her editor Marcus Brauchli at The Washington Post on Sunday night that she would be the recipient of Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

The Pulitzer board cited Kaufman “for her refreshingly imaginative approach to dance criticism, illuminating a range of issues and topics with provocative comments and original insights.”

Kaufman won for 10 pieces of dance criticism that drew inspiration from a wide swatch of subjects and territory: a popular YouTube video of a wedding party dancing down the aisle; the grace and precision of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk; and what people can learn from TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” among others.

On the genius of Cary Grant, she wrote: “It’s the movement that hooks us. It always does. Intuition? Training? Astute directors? Whatever its source, Grant knew a timeless truth: There is nothing we watch so keenly as the human body in action, because the way it moves tells a story.”

Kaufman studied ballet, tap and modern dance in her youth, and tries to keep a fresh perspective on the subject. She has been the Post’s dance critic since 1996. “I think it’s very important for critics to be independent and keep their own counsel and uncover new ways of viewing the art form. I try and do that with dance and broaden it out,” she said.

“I write for the reader above all,” she added. “I’m really, really excited to bring attention to the dance world.”

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