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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The Russian artists Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky were popular in their time: Stravinsky for music, Nijinsky for dance. When their radically new ballet, The Rite of Spring, was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1913, the reaction was so polarized, there were fistfights and riots! Brilliant or disastrous, the performance marked the birth of modern music and dance. S ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  273 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Read this to my 5-year-old, and then found a video of The Rite of Spring (a 10-minute excerpt anyway), which made the story 100X more interesting for her. Books about music should be accompanied by music!
She was mad that the first audiences didn't like the ballet, and vowed to protect people from meanies like that when she is grown up.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Top notch alluring and rich illustration. Also, interesting tale, a real story of Russian creatives--a composer and a dancer--whom inspired each other to create from their friendship. And the author did both the texts and the art, wow! i am impressed 👏
Matthew Hunter
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tells the story of the creative partnership between composer Igor Stravinsky and dancer/choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. After meeting in 1911, the two artists collaborated on the famous ballet "The Rite of Spring". They created something new, and newness can be controversial. Just ask the audience members who rioted in the streets of Paris following the first performance in 1913. How cool (and unfortunate) is that!?! Art matters.

Lauren Stringer's illustrations are beautiful and vibrant, perfect f
Edward Sullivan
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stravinsky and Nijinsky create the ballet, The Rite of Spring.
Stephanie Bange
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Composer Igor Stravinsky dreamed of making something new and different; ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky shared a similar dream. In 1911, the two met and inspired each other to create different art based on themes from traditional Russian music and dance. Their initial collaboration resulted in a brawl in the audience due to its mixed reception.

Stringer's acrylic art is inspired by the 1910s, using themes, style, and colors from that time. They swish and swirl across the page, capturing the flavor
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, art
Talks about how The Rite of Spring changed both music and ballet, and the art in the book draws a lot from the visual art of the period as well, especially post-Impressionism and Cubism. (I don't think it really shows the differences in what was normal and Rite of Spring, but it does talk about the folk dance and music that Stravinsky and Nijinsky drew on.)

I thought this was most appropriate for ages 5-8; it would be cool to use with lessons related to art history in elementary school.
Lynn  Davidson
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stravinsky - a music composer - and Nijinsky - a dancer composer - were well-known for their individual art. When they met, they created something new and different. Audience members at the first performance of The Rite of Spring either loved it or hated it, and riots broke out to which the police had to be called. But the change had happened, and their influence was already set in motion.
Well-told story beautifully illustrated. Extra interesting information is on the back two pages.
Ro Menendez
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
‪How Stravinsky and Nijinsky met and collaborated to create never before experienced music and choreography will provoke readers to realize the powerful effect music, dance and change can have! #bookaday ‬
Maddie Russell
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Igor Stravinsky felt that his compositions were lacking something; Vaslav Nijinsky felt similarly about his choreographies. When the two artists collaborated to create the ballet, "The Rite of Spring," their piece took their audience by storm. Although some were strongly opposed to the revolutionary piece, others wholeheartedly embraced their creation; regardless, they had formed a masterpiece that would not be forgotten.

Media: acrylic on watercolor paper, by Lauren Stringer

The playful, almost
Klaudia Janek
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libres
Highly Recommended [return][return]In this non-fiction picture book, the reader is introduced to Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky. The author introduces Stravinsky as a famous Russian composer and Ninjinsky as a famous Russian ballet dancer. The two decided to collaborate and create something new that the world had not seen or heard yet. It was so different that “at rehearsal, some of the dancers declared it a mess and one or two musician walked out.” The world premier of the Rite of Spring t ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I had heard of the riot caused by the performance of The Rite of Spring, but I did not realize that it was a ballet as well. This was a lovely story about friendship, creativity, cultures and traditions. This also includes a bit about the visual arts of the time. The lads were intrigued and were drawn in by the story.One thing that bugged me was that it sounded like it was trying to rhyme and have a rhythm, but I never could get it to flow.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Minnesota author, Lauren Stringer's meticulously researched "When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot" is beautifully written and illustrated! This ode to the arts was a joy to read.

In 1911, composer Igor Stravinsky met dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Eventually, the two collaborated in the creation of the ballet, "The Rite of Spring," which was first performed on in Paris in 1913. This very new and unique ballet literally let to a riot after
A century after the ground-breaking ballet, The Rite of Spring, made its debut in Paris, this picture book describes the creative partnership between composer Igor Stravinsky and dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Daringly, they drew upon Russian folk songs and dances to compose music that the musicians could play by "drumming their feet and beating their drums/ to rollicking chords and rhythms offbeat" (unpaged). The audience members were shocked and rioted in the aisles and streets as m ...more
100 years after the debut performance of The Rite of Spring and its ensuing riot comes this fabulous picture book by Lauren Stringer, bringing to life this collaboration between two amazing artists. That their work changed the world of music and dance is made clear through bright, vibrant images that were influenced by the work of the likes of Matisse and Picasso, both contemporaries of Stravinsky & Nijinsky.

The text is perfect for reading aloud. Notes at the end list some of the details in the
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
The picture book based on fact is becoming more and more common these days - possibly to appeal to educators whose new Common Core standards necessitate making their reading lessons do double duty in another content area. Lauren Stringer's When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky is not the best product I've seen in the genre, but it is solidly good. The use of language is wonderful and does the perfect job of invoking the loud, drum-heavy work of Russian composers, along with the focus on turns and jumps i ...more
Clare Rossetter
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4th-6th grade or above
Recommended to Clare by: Dr. Peggy Sharp
This is a great picture book introduction to two creative men, one a dancer and one a composer. Ms. Stringer does a great job of using words to create both the images and sounds of the ballet and the orchestra. She is particularly good at showing how the two influenced each other. "When Nijinsky met Stravinsky, his dance began to change, his torso trumpeted a melody... and his feet began to pom-di-di-pom like timpani." "Then Stravinsky met Nijinsky and his music began to change, his piano piroue ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nijinsky, the dance choreographer, and Stravinsky, the music composer came together to collaborate on a production which received mixed reviews and may have sparked a riot. The title page has a clever opening of the curtain, and from there we see people at work, what they produce and what inspires them. This book has large painted illustrations of varying sizes, and hints of the old and the new. A two page opening in the middle of the book offers a peek at the audience, orchestra, and the stage ...more
Holly Mueller
When Igor Stravinsky, the composer, met Vaslav Nijinsky, the dancer, a new kind of art was created. The pair brought to life an unforgettable and controversial performance in The Rite of Spring. It even inspired fistfights in the aisle of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in 1913! Audiences expected graceful dances and melodious music, but what they got was loud and high bassoon notes and heavy, jumping dancing. The pair was criticized but also admired with its bold challenge of the traditional sta ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Rhythmic text and energetic illustrations describe how composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Ninjinsky worked together to create The Rite of Spring, a ballet that revolutionized the world of music and dance when it premiered in 1913.

This is a lovely introduction to early 20th century classical music and ballet, but this book might need a little hand-selling and adult support. The topic is a bit specialized and niche-y, and most young readers won't have enough background knowledge of
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
My only complaint about this book is that the subtitle is in such tiny font on the cover and on the title page because it really highlights what the story is about. I suspect that even many adults won't know a lot about this event and it really has an amazing significance. I did love the book! The text is clear and very accessible for children. The wonderful rhythm of the text makes this a great book to read aloud and the sense of their creative collaboration comes through so well. The illustrat ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of Stravinsky and Nijinsky and the making of The Rite of Spring. It was a different kind of music and a different kind of dance (for a ballet, it was vastly different than Swan Lake). The illustrations include some cubist-style pictures to show how different and disconcerting some found the new ballet.

There's a cute dog and cat on most pages that you can hunt for. Also, look for the animal shapes and instruments from the beginning of the book again at the end.

It would be fun to listen
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
A picture book that details the collaboration of Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky on the ballet The Rite of Spring which rocked the world of both music and dance and lead to a riot on premiere night.

Text is simple and poetic, which makes it a great read aloud title. Illustrations were rendered in acrylics and incorporate styles that were rising in popularity during the time period in which this book takes place.

Following the story are extensive notes from the author that cover the inspiratio
Christine Reardon
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bob-2013-14
A stranger than fiction story about THE transformative moment in 20th century classical music, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky shares the sense of excitement the two artists must have felt about their work. An excellent choice for reading aloud, though preferably not at bed time because young listeners want to pound their fists and stomp their feet after hearing it. The illustrations perfectly capture the frenetic mood of the story, incorporating some cubist techniques and copies of famous painting ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very well-researched with excellent readers' notes in the back. Definitely go hand in hand with music!

I met the author/illustrator at a conference. She read the story to us and pointed out the little gems she tucked in the illustrations... many of them mimic art popular at the time; the curtain fabrics are patterned similarly to fabric used in the ballet costumes; in one picture Stravinsky is hanging on to Nijinsky while he stands on a chair, shouting the beat/counts for the dancers because the
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
When Stravinsky met Nijinsky, it seems that new ideas were born, and they created a new ballet to The Rite of Spring. In the book, the author says they took "Russian folk dances and Russian folk songs, they squared them and flattened them, twisted and cubed them, turning them into something different and new!" And the audience that night at the first performance fought and yelled at each other, some outraged, some enthralled. There is more to this story in the back matter, but it's no surprise t ...more
Abby Johnson
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
What happens when two artistic geniuses work together? A riot, apparently! This is the story of how composer Stravinsky collaborated with dancer Nijinsky to create The Rite of Spring, an entirely new sort of ballet. It would be great for fine arts units (and perfect for a group going to see The Rite of Spring), and it's a great illustration of how collaboration and creativity can have innovative results. Don't overlook it for STEAM programming, is what I'm saying.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Another great picture book about creative people -- this time Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky, who collaborated so beautifully on ballet projects. This book is specifically about "The Rite of Spring," which was so different than anything people had heard before that they literally rioted afterwards. The book inspired me to pick up a recording and listened to it again. The illustrations are a gorgeous blend of music and dance, and the text is deceptively simple. Worth looking through time and ...more
David McCarthy
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bit more than 100 years ago, Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky, inspired by the folk songs and dances of their native Russia, changed modern music and ballet forever with their revolutionary "The Rite of Spring." I first learned about this in college, and would not have thought the story could be told in a picture book for children. But Lauren Springer, using rhythmic language and vivid illustrations, makes the extraordinary collaboration between two very different men seem perfectly natural ...more
The dramatic story behind the creation of The Rites of Spring. Audiences varied reactions (from rioting and booing to loving it) will probably surprise young readers.

Illustrations are acrylic on watercolor paper. Very fluid and expressive figures, and I like the inclusion of the music notes on different pages -- lots of rounded edges (and font is rounded too.) Occasionally a slightly surreal quality. Lots to look at here!
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Good illustrations. I expected there to be more about the riot given the title (the actual illustration of the riot was suuuuuper cute). The end notes were as interesting as the actual story and kinda made me think that the book underestimates its reader -- like, if a kid's gonna intentionally pick up a book about The Rite of Spring, they're gonna be a little more aware than the book gives them credit for. Still, it's a solid little picture book and enjoyable. ...more
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LAUREN STRINGER is an artist, author, and theatrical designer living in Minneapolis, MN. She received her BA in Art and Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and continued her art education with the Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program in NYC. She has exhibited her paintings and sculptures in museums and galleries across the country. In 1991 she received th ...more

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