Last Saturday I had the opportunity to pose for a children’s art class, which is always a fun, jaunty time. And as all art models know, this is not a nude booking obviously! And that’s fine. It gives us the opportunity to don a fun costume, wear a crazy hat, poncho, or feather boa, or just pose in our street clothes. The kids are cool with anything.
So I was scooting around the National Academy in my ballet outfit- really just a leotard, pink tutu, tights, slippers, and legwarmers, and hair up in a ponytail. Just before class started, as I rushed down the hall toward the bathroom, I was stopped by some of the adult women at the Academy, who were quite charmed at the sight of me in ballet gear. “Claudia! You look lovely! What a pretty outfit!”. It was very sweet. Also, the sight was such a departure for those ladies who, after painting and drawing me many times over the past three years, have become so used to seeing me in the nude they could probably do me from memory at this point!
Anyway, it made me think about how inspiring the image of a dancer can be for those who are artistically inclined, and how much it delights the imagination. It must be something about the colors and fabrics of ballet clothing, combined with the movement, elegance, femininity, the expressive gestures, and the overall ambiance of a dance studio filled with ballerinas at practice. Classic and timeless.
Nobody did dancers better than Degas. And if you dare to disagree with that statement you’d better take it up with my mother, because she is an enormous admirer of Degas. She indoctrinated me at an early age to see his artistic gifts and recognize his sensibility. And it worked. I like Degas a lot, especially his dancer pieces.
This is one of my favorites, Dancers in Blue. Not only is it beautiful, but it demonstrates what a master of composition this guy was. And what an eye for perspective. You know what my eye is like? I can draw that dimensional cube we all doodled in the 4th grade, remember that? Well, that’s where my talents begin and end; the 3D cube in my elementary school notebook. Pure genius!
But Degas could depict several people within a space – dancers, instructors, piano accompanists, etc – and the picture never looks cluttered or chaotic. If anything, the space is always perfectly assigned. Organization and harmony – a couple of things I could use more of in my life!