Ballet for Martha Making Appalachian Spring

Jan Greenberg, 1942-

Book - 2010

Tells the story behind the creation of "Appalachian Spring," describing Aaron Copland's composition, Martha Graham's intense choreography and Isamu Noguchi's set design.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j792.8/Greenberg Due Apr 24, 2024
New York : Flash Point 2010.
Main Author
Jan Greenberg, 1942- (-)
Other Authors
Sandra (Sandra Jane Fairfax) Jordan (-), Brian Floca (illustrator)
1st ed
Item Description
"A Neal Porter Book".
Physical Description
48 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), ports. ; 28 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 46-47)
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Dance. Music. Set. All of these elements contribute to the experience of Appalachian Spring, an American classic that continues to thrill audiences. But authors Greenberg and Jordan are less concerned with presenting the ballet (although readers do get a strong sense of it) and more interested in how such an extraordinary collaboration came to be. How does an idea go from a jotted note on choreographer Martha Graham's pad to a fierce triumph? In crisp yet patient sentences, the authors begin with a vision: a story to be told in movement and music, an American pioneer tale. Composer Aaron Copland takes his cues from his knowledge of Graham's powerful yet simple dance style. A Shaker hymn leads him to the music, which in turn ignites Graham's choreography. But one more element is needed. Enter artist Isamu Noguchi, whose set design is as spare and strong as the ballet. The collaboration continues as the dance becomes fully formed, opening triumphantly in 1944. In this book, too, disparate elements come together. Matching the mood of Graham's moves, the writing is pared down but full of possibilities. Floca's ink-and-watercolor artwork nimbly shifts from the prosaic (Copland reading Graham's script) to the visionary (a bride and groom on the open prairie) to the several-spread finale of the ballet itself. The book as a whole beautifully captures the process of artistic creation. The extensive back matter that concludes is welcome, but what readers will surely want after putting this down is to see and hear Appalachian Spring for themselves.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Greenberg and Jordan (Action Jackson; Christo and Jeanne-Claude) continue to carve out their art-focused niche with this inspired book about collaboration. The now classic 1944 ballet, Appalachian Spring, serves as a fine model, showcasing three great artists: dancer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copland, and set designer Isamu Noguchi. Readers see the fascinating creative process unfold, from Graham's germ of an idea about American settlers to the ballet's opening night. They will also gain insight into each artist: "The movements are not always pretty. Not everyone likes Martha's new way of dancing. Audiences have booed her performances, but Martha never lets that stop her," and "Aaron's music suggests the movement, fires the dancers' imaginations, dares them to do more." In spot art and full-bleed scenes, Floca's (Moonshot) muted, elegantly composed watercolors capture Noguchi's avant-garde set ("spare and angular, like Martha's way of dancing"), and the posture and movement of the dancers. Capturing the drama of dance, music, and stage design in a two-dimensional format is no easy feat, but this team does it with a noteworthy grace of their own. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-If Martha Graham's choreography for "Appalachian Spring" was a "valentine" to the world, as critics wrote in 1944, then this book is a love letter in return. Simple, poetic prose tells the story of the creation of one of the world's most-loved ballets and compositions, and Floca's graceful watercolor illustrations take admirers through every part of its development. Written in the present tense, the narrative has a sense of drama that carries readers along as if the events were happening in real time. Fascinating details about the collaboration among Graham, Copland, and Isamu Noguchi (set design) are well documented in the lengthy "curtain call," notes, and resources pages, which read like a fantastic set of liner notes. Floca varies the illustrations from vignettes to bird's-eye views to landscapes and expertly capture the fluid movements of the dancers. The page layouts are well planned to create the most movement and interest. The authors researched extensively but found a way to crystallize all of the information into a gem that is approachable for young readers. More than anything, this work emphasizes the value of collaboration and celebrates the work that Graham, Copland, and Noguchi did to bring together the performing and visual arts. Readers may be inspired to go to Russell Freedman's Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life (Clarion, 1998) and should be encouraged to check out one of Leonard Bernstein's definitive recordings of "Appalachian Spring" and a video of the ballet.-Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

When choreographer Martha Graham asked composer Aaron Copland to create the music for a new ballet, she knew she wanted their finished piece to be a story, "a legend of American living." Later she asked the sculptor Isamu Noguchi to design the set, and from the collaboration among these three artists the iconic ballet Appalachian Spring was born. Using spare, concise sentences, the authors echo Graham's approach to dance: like the movements in her choreography, nothing is wasted, and in such exactness lies the beauty. Greenberg and Jordan are careful to explain that Graham was an uncommon kind of dancer crafting a different type of ballet: "The movements are not always pretty. Not everyone likes Martha's new way of dancing. Audiences have booed her performances, but Martha never lets that stop her." Floca's fluid, energetic line-and-watercolor illustrations echo the plain boldness of Graham's choreography and make readers feel almost as if they were present at the inaugural performance of Appalachian Spring at the Library of Congress in 1944. Those familiar with Copland's score will hear the variations of the Shaker hymn he wove through his music-"It's a gift to be simple, it's a gift to be free, it's a gift to come down where you want to be"-as they turn each page of the recapping of the ballet. Further information about the artists, a bibliography, and notes round out this remarkable book. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.