This informational book details the creation and collaboration between creators of the Appalachian Spring ballet. The creation of the ballet starts with the idea from Martha Graham, who wants to use her innovative choreography style in a ballet. She approaches world renowned composer, Aaron Copland and with her grains of ideas, he writes what turns out to be a beautiful piece of music that tells the story of a pioneer woman and husband. They eventually collaborate with a Japanese-American sculptor who creates simple and elegant stage settings to further enhance the ballet. The book uses quotes and describes the long hours of work everyone put in to create this masterpiece.
Upon first impression, I felt the illustrations in Ballet for Martha were beautiful, but when I compared the illustrations to the photographic versions, they were outstanding. Not only did the story capture the true process of the writing of Appalachian Spring, but the illustrations are en pointe with the 'real life' images, as you can see below. The book itself is a beautifully written text that informs and educates the reader and appeals to a wide range of readers. I think this book could easily be used with a 1st grade student as it could with a high school student. The appreciation would be of different things of course, but since children start dance classes at very young ages, a child could easily be interested in the pictures and story.
Appalachian Spring, the modern dance that celebrates the wedding of a Pioneer Woman and her Husbandman, is a brillantly conceived and enduring paean to American frontier life. It premiered in 1944 with choreography by the innovative Martha Graham, music by Aaron Copland, a child of Eastern European immigrants, and sets by Isamu Noguchi, the Japanese-American sculptor who voluntarily went into a World War II internment camp. The award-winning Greenberg and Jordan tell the story of this collaboration, which began when Copland composed music he entitled "Ballet for Martha." Through the use of active sentences in the present tense and brief quotes, the authors convey the excitement and drama of the creative process and the triumph of the ballet. Floca, a multiple Sibert Award honoree for his prowess in depicting the technical worlds of spaceships and lightships, here uses watercolor and pen-and-ink in a glorious depiction of modern dance movement, with its quiet hand gestures, dramatic leg kicks and the swirl of dancers "fluttering, skittering, reaching up to the sky." A stunning achievement. Archival photographs embellish the biographical notes at the end--a lovely touch. (bibliography, notes) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
Greenberg, J. (2003). Ballet for Martha. New York: Neal Porter/Flash Point/Roaring Brook.
Unknown. (2010, July 15). Ballet for Martha Review. Retrieved May 8, 2011, from Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/childrens-books/jan-greenberg/ballet-for-martha/?spdy=2010