Stravinsky inspired Nijinsky.
Nijinsky inspired Stravinsky.
Together they decided to dream of something different and new.
When I was about four or five years old, I was taken to see The Nutcracker, and like any kid, I promptly fell in love with ballet, pirouetting my way through the house for weeks afterwards. But instead of contributing to my new games of pretend by buying me a tutu, my father bought me a Tchaikovsky record,
explaining to me that this was what the “real ballerinas” danced to. And listening to it, the imaginary world in which I danced gained became something else again—something amazing and visceral and magical.
Too often we forget, while bombarded with pop culture, that preschoolers are still at an amazing time in their lives, when everything is still new and there is no sense of what’s cool or not, beyond what their instincts tell them.
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky is fantastic, not because it’s a learning experience or an immersion in high culture, but because . . . well, it’s fantastic.
The story itself, of how a famous composer and an equally famous dancer came together to create a unique work of art, is clever and interesting and surprising in ways that young children will undoubtedly respond to (the first performance of their Rite of Spring actually caused a riot!); and I love that the author isn’t afraid to introduce new vocabulary that kids may initially be unfamiliar with. But Lauren Stringer’s stripped-down storytelling, boisterous sound effects, and amusing dialogue that reflects the excitement of both characters makes for a wonderful read-aloud for even kids not quite old enough to fully understand every nuance of the story.