Degas’ little ballerina and her sad story

The images of the impressionist painter, Edgar Degas, made of ballet performances in Paris, are the most classic of the plastic arts. Like many, he was fascinated by the world behind the scenes, without the prejudices of the time. For this reason, he asked to attend classes, shows, and rehearsals, developing a knowledge of the art of dance that involved daily, difficult training, which was disguised by soft gestures and smiles.

By recording the 1800s, Degas captured the period of dance where men were less prominent, with male figures represented by teachers, not dancers. In fact, in this period, in which Coppélia was created, male roles were even danced by women dressed as men.

For Degas, the most intimate moments, seen from the wings, were more interesting and the dancers were virtuosos, but real people, quite different from the fairies and spirits who used to play in ballets of the time, like Giselle.

Ballerinas such as Marie Van Goethem inspired paintings and sculptures that are still admired today. The little Belgian artist was a neighbor of Degas and joined the corps de ballet of the Opera Ballet at the age of 11. It was Marie who landed the famous La Petite Danseuse sculpture. It also inspired the paintings The Ballerina with the fan, Ballet Class, and Ballerina Resting.

The sculpture that made her immortal was presented in Paris in 1881, that is, 140 years ago. The artist wanted to show how a poor street girl could still dream of a brilliant career on stage. However, the public did not appreciate the fact that something so trivial was being displayed as art. Disappointed with the bad publicity, Degas removed the sculpture from the exhibition and hid it in a closet – where it was kept for forty years until it was rediscovered in 1956. Since 1985 it has been part of the National Gallery of Art.

Marie’s story was just as sad. To pose for Degas, who paid 6 francs, she was often late for rehearsals and classes. So soon after her sculpture was finished, she was fired from the Paris Opera. Without many options, she ended up in the world of prostitution, a very sad ending for someone who still enchants so many generations. His sister, Charlotte, however, managed to stay in the company and ended her teaching career at age 53. Marie’s fate is unknown after she was arrested for theft.

If it weren’t for Degas’ gaze, much of the classical dance universe would not be immortalized in the imagination of so many people. Too bad the backstage was so sad…


Deixe um comentário

Preencha os seus dados abaixo ou clique em um ícone para log in:

Logo do

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Sair /  Alterar )

Imagem do Twitter

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Twitter. Sair /  Alterar )

Foto do Facebook

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Facebook. Sair /  Alterar )

Conectando a %s