Degas’ Dancers


Ballet is an art form of grace and precision, of using movement to express. Initially created in the 15th century courts of Italy, it has spread around the world and is a highly competitive art form today. One of the most prestigous of all ballet companies to date is the Paris Opera Ballet.


Edgar Degas, born in 1834, is a famous artist from France. He is most famous for his painting, drawing, and sculpting of the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. His work adapted the art of dance to a new medium in painting.


When you look at his art you can see how he tried to capture the movement of the dancers in the stillness of his paintings. While during his life his art got mixed reviews, today his adaptations of the dance art form are known around the world.


Of Degas’ sculptures, the most famous is his Little Dancer, Age 14. Little Dancer was inspired by Marie van Goethem, a young dancer at the ballet, and a model for Degas.


Degas’ Little Dancer, and the story of his sculpture has inspired many adaptations as well. Tiler Peck is the actress in the above photo, that played Marie in Little Dancer, a musical at Kennedy Center in 2014.


Books have been written about the Little Dancer as well, like this one by Laurence Anholt. While young aspiring ballet dancers might not know who Degas is, this book adaptation was a hit with little ballerinas.


Even professional ballerinas pay tribute to Degas’ Little Dancer. Misty Copeland (featured above and below) says that she sees her younger self in the Little Dancer.


Misty has posed for many adaptions of Degas’ work.


Degas’ adaptations of the Paris Opera Ballet dancers have become a timeless source for adaptations themselves.

Want to learn more? links to photos/more info: 1 2 3 4 5 6


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