My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey

by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Author) James E Ransome (Illustrator)

My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
"In James E. Ransome's realistic pastel portraits, Battle, his family and his teachers all seem lit from within." --The New York Times Book Review

"An ongoing success story for all readers and especially Ailey's worldwide legion of fans." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he'd study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn't until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement--first from martial arts, then for ballet--became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey's Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert's leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance.

Featuring illustrations brimming with vibrant color and swirling motion, this biographical picture book from husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lisa Cline-Ransome includes a foreword from Robert Battle himself as well as a bibliography, suggested further reading, and an author's note.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by choreographer Alvin Ailey. He envisioned a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his "blood memories" of his home state of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Since its founding, the company has performed in seventy-one countries on six continents. It's repertory includes works by Mr. Ailey and ninety other choreographers, and new works are commissioned each year. Judith Jamison succeeded Mr. Ailey as artistic director, and in 2011, she selected Robert Battle to be her successor. Learn more at AlvinAiley.org.

Publishers Weekly

The Ransomes chronicle the struggles and triumphs of African-American ballet dancer turned artistic director Robert Battle, who contributes a foreword. Despite a sometimes difficult youth--he was born bowlegged, was shuttled among several family members, and wore leg braces until age six--Battle went on to become a renowned performer. Fluid pastels depict Battle's early influences, from practicing the Moonwalk and karate to being inspired by an Alvin Ailey performance with "dancers in all shades of brown." While the text can get bogged down in the details of the people and places in Battle's life, it's still a glowing, inspiring tribute to his perseverance and passion. Ages 5-10. (Oct.)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5--The latest collaboration from this talented husband-and-wife team spotlights the childhood and career trajectory of the current artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Battle was "'no bigger than a loaf of bread, '" he was adopted and raised by his loving aunt and uncle and their adult daughter. Surrounded by spirituals at home and church, the boy was initially prevented from moving to the music due to painful, metal braces worn to straighten his legs. When the braces were removed, he gained strength and confidence through martial arts and then ballet and other styles. Cline-Ransome charts the young man's progress from an arts high school in Miami to Juilliard. Her narrative conveys salient details, such as the names of teachers, dance companies, and pieces, as well as Battle's emotional highs and lows. Evoking the master of the dance painting, Edgar Degas, Ransome's deft use of acrylic strokes makes readers aware of key moments in Ailey's signature piece, Revelations. Interspersed among full-color scenes of Easter bonnets and the Miami neighborhood are spreads depicting energetic studies of the dancer in motion, first as a child and later as a muscular, toned adult. This informative yet concise package includes a foreword by Battle (accompanied by photographs) and author and illustrator notes. VERDICT This story of the man who went on to assume the mantle of dance leadership will motivate aspiring dancers or choreographers and will be particularly meaningful to boys of color.--Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

 
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome have collaborated on many award-winning picture books for children. These include Before She was Harriet, a Coretta Scott King honor book; Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the first Black-and-White Jazz Band in History; Satchel Paige, which was an ALA Best Book for Children and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal. They live in the Hudson River Valley region of New York.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781481422215
Lexile Measure
970L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
October 20, 2015
Series
-
BISAC categories
JNF007050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Cultural Heritage
JNF018010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JNF039020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Performing Arts | Dance
Library of Congress categories
United States
Choreographers
Dancers
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Battle, Robert
Orbis Pictus Award
Recommended 2016 - 2016

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