The Dance Class is an artwork that was created by a famous French artist Edgar Degas in 1872. This painting is from the group of Degas’ projects about the theme of dance and ballet techniques, in particular.
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Among the existing variety of impressionists’ works, The Dance Class by Degas is probably one of the most interesting and strong projects. As well as his other artworks, The Dance Class was performed by oil on canvas. There are no bright colors on the painting but strict and concerned choices to prove the nature of ballet as an art form – calm and definite. In addition to properly chosen techniques and materials, the artist was able to create a story with the past, the present, and the future.
Looking at this work, it is possible to say that Degas was passionate about ballet and not only the stage performance itself but the events that happened during training and rehearsals. There are several female ballet dancers and two men (one in a white suit seems to be a ballet master, and another could be an orchestra man because of the conductor’s stick in his hands). The ballerinas look exhausted probably because of the amount of work done before. Still, they are confident in their actions and ready to follow their goals. There are no extra or unnecessary people or movements – just what it has to be during a ballet rehearsal.
In this painting, Degas wanted to underline the importance of a working process. One ballerina performs a dance, another is sitting on the chair, several women follow the performance, and several young ladies are rehearsing and warming up. In other words, each person is occupied with something, proving that ballet is not the place to rest or entertain but to work hard and regularly.
There is no much space on the artwork, which suggests that it is not a real ballet studio but a temporary room for training before a performance. Due to the presence of the arch in the middle of the room and the high ceiling, it is possible to guess that it is a part of an opera house. The role of the ballet master is to instruct and check the choreography of every ballerina. He raises the hand, meaning that the man allows beginning the performance and supports the chosen direction. The role of the second man remains unknown, but his presence in the room makes the viewer think about his role in the process.
I base my interpretation of the work on what I actually see and want to see in the painting. I enjoy the possibility to learn better the ballet art and the processes in which ballerinas and choreographers have to be involved. In my opinion, it was not enough for Degas to choose a theme and introduce it using oils. His goal was to memorize a process and make it available to other people, who do not have a chance to grasp the details.
In general, my judgment of an artwork depends on two major criteria: the possibility to introduce a story and enhance people’s creative thinking and the quality of painting, including the size of the canvas and the chosen base. Degas succeeded in both cases and managed to create good and interesting artwork. Despite a number of people and activities, his Dance Class has one common goal and message to people that is to respect and enjoy the art of ballet.