There may well have been influence from Edgar Degas within this painting, for he produced countless numbers of portraits of ballet dancers within his career. Degas would feature them practicing their craft in all manner of different postures and groupings, and Toulouse Lautrec must surely have come across some of these depictions whilst living and working in Paris. In this painting he features a single dancer who appears deep in thought. The young lady has particularly long, slim legs which would be ideal for ballet. She has pink leggings, with petite shoes. Her hair is tidied away for pragmatic reasons whilst her midrift is covered in a white dress which hangs from the back as she contemplates her next dance. Toulouse-Lautrec incorporates angled lines across the floor boards to provide some perspective, but otherwise keeps the background very limited in detail.
This artwork must surely have been a study for a later, more complex piece. The artist would not have sold something as half finished as this, and clearly is trying to perfect certain elements, such as the posture of the dancer and elements of her clothing. A more complete piece would have at least developed the background onwards in order to make the item ready for sale. He regularly prepared in this manner, focusing on particular parts of more complex compositions separately, and then bringing everything together at the end.
As mentioned, Degas took this type of content just as far as it could go, with some of the best examples from his career including the likes of Ballet Class, Dance Class and Blue Dancers. He worked tirelessly to perfect these depictions, studying the female body in great detail in order to accurately capture some of these dancers as they moved around the stage. The resultant paintings are delightful displays of feminine beauty, and capture the classic atmosphere of late 19th century France. Impressionist art captured Toulouse-Lautrec's imagination and he incorporated many of its styles within his own approach, albeit with some of his own ideas too.