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Paris. Cafés, amis et impressions
Paris, Opéra Garnier
Edgar Degas. 1874
My father loved art. Even as a child,
I used to go with him to the Opéra, in its old premises in rue Le Peletier,
the beating heart of Parisian cultural and social life, at least until the unfortunate fire that destroyed it... I loved portraying dancers and horses; I wanted, in fact, to represent light on moving subjects. The opportunity to study the whirlwind of dance live was given to me by a friend who worked at the Opéra.
My interest was not so much in the dance itself as in the long preparation work that the dancers and choreographers had to do to prepare a performance. For this reason, I focused on the representation of the moments of pause, between one lesson and another, or on the exhausting rehearsals and I described the tired faces of the students. I was, yes,
a spectator at the Opéra, but I was fascinated above all by the world that went on behind the scenes. It was here that I could observe what was happening on a daily basis. It was always here, among other things, that the dancers were at their most genuine; they would tie ribbons in their hair or stretch out and yawn. One of the first works
I dedicated to the dancers was The Dance Lesson, where I portrayed the girls, almost bored, in front of the inflexible teacher. It took me three years of work and I had to make many sketches before I was satisfied with the final result. For me, beauty is found in spontaneous gestures, in the naturalness of expressions, but my works were anything but spontaneous; I devoted dozens of preparatory sketches to them...
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