'Classe de danse' by Edgar Degas

I have been reading homework assignments from last year. The 8th graders did a really good job on writing stories/interpretations about different artworks. The first one I have chosen is about an Impressionist painting 'Classe de danse' (The Dancing Class) by Edgar Degas. 

Written by Zita Lillik, class 8/b of 2015/16.

"Classe de Dance is one of the most famous paintings by Edgar Degas. The artwork which was painted in 1872 can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The picture is made with oil on cardboard. The thick lines on the piano and thin, slightly curved lines on the dancers' skirts were made by fast but careful brushstrokes. This technique gives the picture a soft textured look/impression. The dominant colours are brown, white and black, and that gives us the mood of those times where respect meant something. The left side of the picture is a little crowded however the focus is still in the middle, on the practising ballerina. The dancers' movements are illustrated realistically, one can completely believe the situation. The figures are small and they are the same size.

As I dance, too, the subject is familiar to me, that is why I chose this painting.The theme - dancers - was very important and determining in Degas' life and art. He painted women and dancers for about 25 years. He never admitted that his style was close to Impressionism, he preferred Realism. He copied Dürer, Mantegna and Rembrandt paintings when he was young. Trips to Italy to Operas and museums gave him inspiration and a guideline to his work. I have seen many Degas paintings and he used a similar style for many of his figures. 

When I look at this picture the word CONCENTRATION comes to my mind, I get the feeling I have while dancing. None of the dancers are badly behaved neither do they talk, they only concentrate on the next performance and each wants to learn something new from the others. The picture shows a moment but as you are looking at this picture you can imagine what they are going through. The more you look at the picture the more you can see how detailed it is, not only the main dancer but the ones in the background, especially the girl leaning on the piano on the left side. You can almost read her thoughts.

I believe that they are before a performance and the situation where everyone is stressed and focussed can be seen. Some are warming up, some are relaxing but one thing is common. They are concentrating. This is normal because they don't know what will happen and I think Degas painted this feeling perfectly.

In my opinion this is a really-really interesting picture, it is one of my favourites because it raises so many questions and it is full of mysteries. I think he caught the moment perfectly."