when stravinsky met nijinsky

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet and One Extraordinary Riot by Lauren Stringer

This is the story of how two Russian artists collaborated to create a revolutionary new ballet, The Rite of Spring.  When the two artists met one another, each of them started to change.  Stravinsky’s music changed and Nijinsky’s dance changed.  They inspired one another to try something entirely new and created a ballet based on Russian folk dances and folk songs.  Even at rehearsal, some of the musicians walked out, but enough stayed so that the show could go on.  When the ballet was first performed, the crowd was split.  Some people loved the new music and dancing, others were shocked and hated it.  The crowd took to the streets to continue to express their anger and appreciation.  This is a great picture book biography that captures the magic of creativity that results when two masters collaborate on something brave and new.

Stringer’s writing takes a complicated story and distills it to the most important points.  Young readers will quickly understand that the two men brought new ideas out of one another, finding each other inspiring.  Her art also speaks to the collaboration of these two men, using flowing lines and deep yet soft colors.  She inserts elements from the art of the time, referencing movements like cubism in both her text and art.  The end of the book has photographs of the two artists and dancers in the ballet.  It also has a longer look at their collaboration. 

A great choice for art and music classes, I’d recommend listening to The Rite of Spring with the group too.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.