For anyone who grew up wanting to be a ballet dancer, there is a stunning exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts that will bring those childhood dreams alive: Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement.
The extensive collection features more than 85 paintings and sculptures of dancers, many of whom were ballet dancers based at the Paris Opéra during the late 1800s. Edgar Degas was known as the Painter of Dancers and he was fascinated by the study of movement, especially that of dancers bodies.
His works show ballet dancers rehearsing in the studio, performing on stage and preparing off stage. Degas interprets them in such an intimate way that you feel you are also in the room.
Some of my favourite pieces include Dancers in Blue and Three Dancers, as well as Degas’ famous bronze sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. The latter is based on a series of 20 drawings of a live model from different angles – a technique known as photosculpture.
Degas also experimented with photography, which was a fairly new medium at the time, and three of his only known photographs are displayed at the exhibition.
Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement at the Royal Academy of Arts until the 11 Dec 2011. Book tickets