PAINTING THE MOVEMENT: DEGAS AND THE BALLET - Russian Masters Ballet Camp
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PAINTING THE MOVEMENT: DEGAS AND THE BALLET

With his paintbrush ready and a clear goal: to capture the trail that leaves the movement through the stage. That is what Degas must have had in mind when he was at his atelier, with a new ballet scene in his retina waiting to become immortal when he embodied it in the canvas.

Although ballet was not the only motive that appeared in his works, we could agree in the fact that it was the topic that marked his career and made him a referent in his own time; the truth is that the first time that ballet dancers appear in his artistic production they do it in a timid way, secondarily and at the end of the composition.

It seems that when Degas was painting The Orchestra at the Opera, in which the musicians are portrayed, he realised that something interesting was going on in the stage and he could not resist himself to paint it too, just at the back of the painting in this case, but becoming the principal theme in the rest of his works.

The painter depicted the ballerinas in all sorts of possible situations, extracting the essence of this discipline of ours: sometimes the young ladies are dancing on the stage, sometimes on ballet lessons, sometimes they appear backstage, sometimes sit down on a bench looking exhausted, sometimes getting ready for the next exercise… Degas was able to appreciate the beautiful and not so beautiful moments that lived the dancers from the Opera of Paris, capturing these instants as if they were photografies.

On the contrary of other impressionists that used to paint outside doors in order to catch the effect that light had on the world, Degas encloses himself and the light that illuminates his ballet paintings is indoor light. Nevertheless, here is where the mastery of this genius shows up: Degas paints the effect of the light in the movement. And what greater movement than the one performed by a ballet dancer floating through the stage?

We now conclude our little tribute to the painter that devoted his time and talent to portray the ballet, something that not many visual artists have done, which converts Degas’s paintings into unique and special pieces, mainly for ballet lovers.