November 18, 2017

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Danza! by Duncan Tonatiuh | SLJ Review

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redstarTONATIUH, Duncan. Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México. illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh. 32p. bibliog. glossary. index. Abrams. Aug. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781419725326.

Gr 3 Up –Amalia “Ami” Hernández (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, Hernández 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 folklórico. Hernández and her fellow dancers gave wildly successful performances throughout Mexico that motivated her to create her own dance company, El Ballet Folklórico de México. 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 Folklórico 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 Hernández is a vivid celebration of Mexican culture, art, and life and a timely release in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Hernández’s birth.–Natalie Romano, Denver Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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