Saturday, March 23, 2013

Synchronicity: When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky by Lauren Stringer

When Stravinsky composed music all by himself, his piano trilled an orchestra
with violins and flutes, trumpets and tubas...
with the ringling and tingling of cymbals and bells...

When Nijinsky composed dances all by himself,
his torso floated--a swan.
His legs leaped--a deer....

Stravinsky was an acclaimed composer and conductor, whereas Nijinsky was a much ballyhooed ballet dancer.

But they had one thing in common: they both had dreams of creating something extraordinary and different.

And then the two of them met at the right time and place in musical history.

The world was moving into a new era: there were time- and space-bending inventions--the airplane, automobile, telegraph and radio--and complex new forms of art and architecture were being created. Even women's skirts were growing skimpier. Everyone was in a rush to be modern.

And when Stravinsky met Nijinsky, sparks of creativity lighted up the staid world of classical ballet as well, and the result was the premier of The Rites of Spring in 1913, with folkloric, non-traditional dance set to the sound of the new musical expressionism.

Some people hated it! They were nettled by the new.
They stood on their seats and shouted, "BOO! BOO! BOO!

And some people loved it!
They stood on their seats and shouted "BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!"

And music and dance were never the same again.

Lauren Stringer's When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) has also premiered this month to rave reviews. Her strong, twisting illustrations perfectly capture the sense of Stravinsky's wildly crashing music and Nijinsky's fabled leaps in the iconoclastic ballet she describes so well for young readers.

"Music and dance made entertaining and joyous," proclaims Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal adds their own star of approval to the accolades.

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