I am super jealous of art gallery visitors in Washington, D.C., who can see the “Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint” exhibit.
The last gallery even includes two mirrors and a real ballet barre, mounted at hip height along one mirror. When a dancer from the Washington Ballet reached the end of the exhibit, she couldn’t resist stretching one leg on the barre.
“You can’t just walk past it,” says Morgann Rose, a principal dancer with the Washington Ballet. “I see a ballet barre, and I have to do something — [it's] kind of an addiction,” she laughs.
Rose recognizes herself in the painting that is the focus of the exhibition, Degas’ Dancers at the Barre. “Every day begins at the barre — stretching, slowly moving your body, warming yourself up,” she explains.
These morning rituals are familiar to every dancer. Septime Webre, dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the Washington Ballet, describes the start of the day with veneration. “The studio is a temple,” he says.
I don’t know if I could pick a favourite ballet-inspired Degas work if I tried. Maybe this one:
But I’ve always liked “Four Dancers” too:
“Degas Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint” is on display from October 1 to January 8 at the Phillips Collection.