When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot
By Lauren Stringer
One hundred years ago, the Ballets Russes debuted a ballet so radical, the audience disintegrated into an angry, brawling mob. On that day in 1913, The Rite of Spring, brightly illustrated in Lauren Stringer’s children’s book, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, changed the course of modern music and dance. The author’s account offers kid-friendly descriptions of the ballet’s raucous, dissonant score, its angular choreography and the dancers’ primitive skipping and stomping. “They will jump ’round in circles and their feet must be muddy! Can you make a mud sound?” Vaslav Nijinsky asks the composer in a passage from the book.
Perhaps most effectively, Stringer’s story highlights the power of partnership. Before they met, Nijinsky and Igor Stravinsky each made their own work, but their product proved much stronger when they combined their efforts. In a studio or K–12 setting, the story can serve as a jumping-off point for collaborative projects in the classroom. And an in-depth author’s note, with archival photographs and artist biographies, augments the book for older dancers.