Dance Class (1871) Edgar Degas Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Dance Class exposes the artist's admiration of ballerinas, a common theme evident through his work.

The impressionistic artist is often compared to the works of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. These three artists had a similar style based on their techniques and use of form. While Degas preceded to refer to himself as a realist painter with qualities he did indeed have, his work is now known as classic Impressionism that takes a twist on realism. Dance Class belongs to a collection of paintings by Degas, based in the same room. Another painting by the artist based in the same dance studio includes Dance Class At The Opera. It is believed that Degas gained the opportunity to attend these rehearsals, and was so captivated that he produced a number of pieces inspired by them.

Edgar Degas often adored including subliminal messages throughout his work. While he enjoyed showcasing the mystical beauty and presence of ballet, he felt the need to add even more into his work. Degas often depicted the behind the scenes of performances, in works such as Dancers Backstage, Two Dancers Entering The Stage, and Dancer In Her Dressing Room. Dance Class belongs to this common theme as the artist is giving his viewer an inside knowledge as to what truly occurs in preparation of the show. Dance Class allows the viewer to take a look at the immense work that takes place to produce a recital. The viewer is let into the secret world of performers, and all of the work that is put into create an artistic performance.

Dance Class showcases roughly a dozen ballerinas in a studio. The walls are coloured in a warm golden-brown colour. A large brown door is placed near the right wall of the room. There is another large opening in the adjacent wall where a group of ballerinas practice amongst one another. There is a light source coming from the left side of the room, which seems to be a large window illuminating the room. While the viewer's gaze does not fall towards one item in room in particular, the viewer is able to make out a story based on. The setting. An older man with white hair sits on the stool of the piano to the left of the painting. He is dressed in a carbon black suit and is playing a violin. In front of the man, a young ballerina performs under the music playing. She prepares her dance as she points one foot behind her and places the other at a side. The young ballerina drops her hands to her side, while she stares at the unknown in front of her. Three other ballerinas surround her as they hold on to the bar practicing.

One of the ballerinas holds onto the bar as she arched her body backwards. Another ballerina leans against the bar as she stares at ballerina arching her back. To the right of the two women, another ballerina faces the wall as she crosses her feet in opposite directions in front of one another. Behind the man playing the piano stands a group of girls looking into the ballerina. One of the girls leans against the piano with her arms crossed with one another leaning. Her body language showcases that she is indeed judging the performance of the other ballerina. A few others stand near her as they talk amongst one another.