Only the third person to direct the esteemed and much-loved American dance company, Battle represents a strong line that celebrates African-American music, faith, and dance.
Much as the spirituality and power of the African-American church infused Alvin Ailey’s signature work, Revelations, with beauty, sorrow, humor, and pride, so attendance at a performance of that dance work inspired a young African-American boy from Miami to pursue a career in modern dance. Cline-Ransome recounts Robert Battle’s childhood struggles and his loving, supportive family in a warmly written narrative. She follows his meteoric career to New York City, studying at Juilliard, dancing and choreographing for modern companies, and finally following Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison to become director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Her collaborator (and husband) uses pastels in full-page bleeds to depict both family scenes and practice sessions in studios. A double-page spread showcases the joyous and often encored last movement of Revelations, while panels and pages of colorfully outlined sketches evoke the precision and drama of dance movement. An especially beautifully conceived image is on the cover, capturing Battle in a moment of intensely emotional concentration.
An ongoing success story for all readers and especially Ailey’s worldwide legion of fans. (foreword by Battle, author’s note, illustrator’s note, bibliography, further reading, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)