The Dance Class

7:00 AM

Degas, The Dance Class, 1873

"The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality: of human beings, facing outwards like the Seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure: stepping slowly, methodically, sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognizable shape: or breaking into seemingly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle: unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance."- Anthony Powell

Edgar Degas, a French painter, was known for his dance subjects. He is also considered a founder of impressionism. However Degas disregarded the term "Impressionism" and called his work "Realist". He was taught in painting historical and classical art. But he soon switched to more modern subject matter and used his classical technique in his work, becoming a "classical painter of modern life."

The Dance Class was created in the middle of Degas' career. The diagonal of people pushing towards the dancer by the music stand is the major flow in this scene. Also the touches of red, the man wearing the coat in the background, the other man in the middle-ground, and finally the red carnation in the dancer's hair, pushes the eye foreword.

The viewer obtains a sense of stress and hurriedness from the dancers in the background and in the foreground. If you draw your attention to the dancer in the middle, the gracefulness of her arabesque calms the viewer. As your eyes progress to her hands, you can feel her reach. Her head leaning back, you can breathe in with her, making the painting feel strong, and composed in the middle of chaos.

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