Ballet Recital - Dega's Ballerinas

Zoe-Pascale has been taking what I would call serious French ballet for two years now with Madame Lillian, a former Paris Ballerina who takes her work seriously. The theme this year was Dega's paintings of the ballerinas


Dancers were Degas's favorite subject. Ballets were very popular in Paris and young girls dreamed of becoming famous ballerinas. But it was hard work and not very glamorous. The young girls weren't even called students. They were called rats.


Degas understood how hard the girls worked. He spent hours watching them practice at the dance studio. Degas was fascinated by their gauzy costumes and the movement of their bodies as they twirled and leaped across the floor. He painted many of his ballerina scenes with pastels, a chalk-like crayon. With pastels, he could work more quickly than with oils. They didn't need time to dry, and the colors were very bright.


Degas also showed the dancers resting. They waited on the sidelines, adjusted their costumes, yawned, and scratched their backs. This outraged the critics. They were used to seeing only "beautiful" portraits of famous ballerinas. Degas's portrayals were disturbing. But he didn't care what critics said; he recorded the scenes as he saw them.


Madame Lillian did a phenomenal job of recreating each painting with a dance using the girls of all ages. The costumes were beautiful and Zoe felt very proud of herself.