Friday, October 1, 2010

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring

I meant to blog about Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring a while back, but I changed my mind because so many other people were writing about it. Well, they are still writing about, so I changed my mind again and decided to join in on the buzz that is swirling around this book.

I first found out about the book at the American Library Association (ALA) conference in June, in Washington, DC. I was browsing at the Roaring Brook Press booth and nearly jumped for joy when I saw the cover and realized that a book about modern dance (plus so much more) was about to be published.

I gathered up the courage to ask for an advance reader copy (which, for those of you who aren't familiar with that term, is basically a bound copy of galley proofs) and was delighted to be able to take one home with me. However, I'm still kicking myself that I didn't have illustrator Brian Floca, who was also attending the conference, sign it for me.

In brief, the book is about the amazing collaboration among choreographer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copland, and artist Isamu Noguchi to create the masterpiece Appalachian Spring. I won't go into detail here because so many other bloggers have written such compelling reviews of the book already. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • A Fuse #8 Production published a phenomenal review of the book, which includes images from the book and even a YouTube video showing Martha herself performing Appalachian Spring.
  • Carol Rasco at Rasco from RIF blogged about the book a few weeks ago. She mentions the Fuse #8 review but adds her own comments and gives a nice summary of the book.

Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, says "The dancers all read the advance copy of Ballet for Martha and were charmed, thrilled, blown away, delighted, etc, etc. We all love it!" The center went through some difficult times a few years back but seems to be flourishing now. You can check out its website for more information about Martha Graham's legacy and the dance company that still bears her name.

One thing that helped convince me to blog about this book today is that I found out that the St. Louis Symphony is performing Appalachian Spring tonight and again on Sunday afternoon. Music Director David Robertson apparently had some input into the book, and authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrator Brian Floca, and editor Neal Porter are all flying in for the performance. You can learn more about the connection between the book and the symphony in the St. Louis Dispatch.

The book's authors, illustrator, and editor are also appearing tomorrow morning at the St. Louis Public Library to talk about and sign copies of the book. For any of you who live in or near St. Louis, I hope you can make it. I know I wish I could be there!

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