Ballet Dancers on the Stage


Edgar Degas ( French, 1834 - 1917 )

more object details

General Description

In the 1880s and 1890s, Edgar Degas became increasingly fascinated by the ballet, especially its physical demands on dancers. Instead of presenting ballerinas as light and graceful, the artist depicted them in the awkward poses between movements. The dancers’ arms (eleven total) overlap in a rhythmic play of form. Degas’s use of cropping and an unconventional vantage point gives the appearance of limbs detached from bodies. It is as though we are spectators in a balcony peering down at a performance. The dancers are garishly illuminated by the gas footlights of the stage. Degas’s mastery of the medium of pastel allowed him to suggest both the density of the tangled bodies and the airiness of their tulle costumes.

Excerpt from

Nicole Myers, DMA label copy, 2017.

Related Multimedia

Learn about Edgar Degas (1834-1917).

Web Resources

  • YouTube
    Watch this animated video about Degas's depictions of ballet dancers from the "Art with Mati and Dada" series.