In 1913 Paris, two Russians, Igor Stravinsky the composer and Vaslav Nijinsky the dancer/choreographer, took the western European art world by storm when the Ballet Russes premiered The Rite of Spring on May 29th. This book, composed with much alliterative, musical language, and onomatopoeia, tells the story of the friendship and collaboration between composer and dancer. Focusing on the changes to their work and personal styles that resulted from their meeting to the culmination of their efforts, the ballet The Rite of Spring, the story conveys their composition process in a lively, upbeat fashion, with a percussive vocabulary. Children may be surprised to learn about the commotion the composition caused, and the riotous ballet is sure to catch their attention. Vibrantly colored illustrations, inspired by Matisse and Picasso, of the musical notes, instruments, and dancers depicted, enhance the tone of the story and complement the text well. Stringer trusts readers with a challenging and exciting account of the transformative power of visionary, risk-taking art.
If you're feeling inspired after reading the book, try making up your own dance to the music. NPR Music is inviting "professionals and the public alike to take the last minute of Stravinsky's inimitable score — in an exceptional performance by conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra — and create a new video to go along with this music." Follow this link for more information, or to see some of the submitted videos. Happy Dancing! Happy Spring!