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I have been meaning to go see the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art for months now, and have never found the time, or the right person to go with. I finally made it last weekend, and was so taken aback at what I had the great opportunity to admire!
Having danced almost all my life, and being a lover of the ballet and the stage myself, I felt like the Degas exhibition will be just my cup of tea! Before settling on being a classical singer, I have always wanted to be a dancer, and find ballerinas the most gorgeous beings on this planet! I some times put on my tights, leotard and shoes and dance around my flat… (This may be too much information..)
Anyway, fact is, I was super excited to see Degas’s take on dance and his perception of it. I couldn’t book my tickets online for some reason, so I arrived 20 minutes before the scheduled opening at 10am, and thank gosh I was there so early, because we were third in a line that grew to way over 70 people before the doors even opened!
I wasn’t that excited, thinking that there would probably be 20 art enthusiasts huddled around one painting, and it was a little bit like that in the first room, but as we moved further along, the crowed seem to spread out more!
Born in Paris in 1834, Edgar Degas was exposed to a rapidly changing city and revolutionary art. He became a leading figure in the Parisian impressionist group, sharing his fascination with art and photography. I found it especially amazing to see the birth of film in his work. In his late years, Degas took picture of ballerinas in movement and used them in his own pioneering compositions.
I was a little bit surprised to find that Degas didn’t burn his sketches, ’cause some of them, I feel I could have drawn. (Not that I am in any way an artist, I used to be a passionate painter back in the day) The leg proportions were a little off and some ballerinas seemed to have one arm more than double the size of their other arm… To be fair, they were his sketches, and I’m sure he never meant for them to be on public display at the Royal Academy of Art.
His early paintings and pastels depict ballerinas behaviour and surroundings. As a viewer, one almost has the feeling of being in a private classroom, in the wings or very close to the stage.
As Degas grew older, his painting seemed to become more calm and still. Ballerinas are shown in full motion in his early years and simply sitting on benches or resting in his late paintings. I felt like moving through his life story by looking at his work. When admiring the beautiful girls, dancing in gorgeous costumes, I understand why Degas was so in love with the ballet.
Even though Degas does not seem to know an awful lot about the technical aspect of ballet (the dancers feet are often horribly depicted and very flat, and some of the ballerinas he drew had a posture, any ballet teacher would have cried out loud), I fell in love with his paintings at first sight.
It reminded me of how much I love dancing and how much miss it! I dug out my ballet shoes as soon as I got home and put them on, just to see whether my feet still fit them. Of course they do. :)
The Degas and the Ballet Exhibition is on at the Royal Academy of Arts till December 11th 2011! It is absolutely worth a visit! Make sure you purchase a ticket online before you go, or arrive super early to avoid any kind of waiting in line!