Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico's Folkloric Ballet

by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author)

Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico's Folkloric Ballet
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Amalia Hernández, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folklórico de México.

As a child, Amalia Hernández saw a pair of dancers in the town square. The way they stomped and swayed to the rhythm of the beat inspired her. She knew one day she would become a dancer.

Amalia studied ballet and modern dance under the direction of skilled teachers who had performed in world-renowned dance companies. But she never forgot the folk dance she had seen years earlier. She began traveling through the Mexican countryside, witnessing the dances of many regions, and she used her knowledge of ballet and modern dance to adapt the traditional dances to the stage. She founded her own dance company, a group that became known as el Ballet Folklórico de México.

Using his signature illustration style, inspired by the ancient art of the Mixtecs, award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Amalia Hernández and the formation of the Folkloric Ballet, one of the most famous and successful dance companies in the world.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Tonatiuh tells Hernández's story with careful attention to detail and with obvious admiration for the subject... His digitized, hand-drawn illustrations are striking. They showcase, in his signature style based on Mixtec art, the beauty and grace of many different dance styles.

Publishers Weekly

Tonatiuh follows his picture book biographies of Diego Rivera and Jose Guadalupe Posada with a vibrant introduction to a Mexican artist who made her mark in the arena of dance. Inspired by the danzas she saw performed on the streets of Mexico City as a child, Amalia Hernandez went on to study ballet before being exposed to modern dance. Eventually, she became a choreographer and founded a company that sought to pay tribute to Mexico's past and present, fusing her study of traditional dances from across the country ("She paid special attention to the steps, the music, and the outfits people wore") with top-notch production values. Employhis his customary brand of Mixtec-inspired collage, Tonatiuh makes expert use of photographic bits of lace, cloth, and hair to bring warmth to the dancers, who dip and turn on each spread. A closing note and glossary provide additional context and insight. Ages 6-10. (Aug.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3 Up--Amalia "Ami" Hernandez (1917-2000) didn't expect to break with tradition. It was assumed that perhaps she would become a schoolteacher like her mother. But when she saw dancers in a town square while on vacation with her family, she knew what she wanted to be. Her parents nurtured her love of dance, and she benefited from studying under some of the world's best ballerinas and teachers. Always disciplined in her practice and technique, Hernandez became a seasoned dancer and later a teacher and choreographer. She was inspired by the fusion of modern ballet and the traditional dances of her native Mexico. Drawing on her knowledge of indigenous danzas, as well as art, music, and architecture, she established a truly unique concept: el ballet folklorico. Hernandez and her fellow dancers gave wildly successful performances throughout Mexico that motivated her to create her own dance company, El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Traveling first in Mexico and then around the globe, the company became the face of innovative and artistic modern Mexican dance for the whole world to admire. Tonatiuh's Mixtec-inspired illustrations capture the movement and vibrancy of El Ballet Folklorico and pay homage to the artistic vision of one of the world's most beloved dancers. VERDICT Part biography and part homage to the history of Mexican dance, this essential, first-ever children's biography of Amalia Hernandez is a vivid celebration of Mexican culture, art, and life and a timely release in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Hernandez's birth.--Natalie Romano, Denver Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Duncan Tonatiuh
Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His books, including Diego Rivera, Dear Primo, and Separate Is Never Equal, have received many awards over the years. He currently lives in San Miguel with his wife and children but travels to the US often.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Harry N. Abrams
Publication date
August 20, 2017
BISAC categories
JNF007010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Art
JNF007050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Cultural Heritage
JNF007040 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Music
JNF007060 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Performing Arts
JNF038070 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | Mexico
Library of Congress categories
JUVENILE NONFICTION / Biography & Autobiograp
JUVENILE NONFICTION / People & Places / Mexic
Hernaandez, Amalia
Folk dancing, Mexican
Ballet Folklaorico de Maexico

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