Blue Dancers - Edgar Degas

By Kaitlyn Zaldana

The girls made of dance, swaddled in blue, anxiously await the ballet. While they rest behind the wine drapes, a different performance begins. Each girl sways to the rhythm of her own preparation hymn.

Perhaps one girl is leaning down to tie up her slippers, another is inspecting her dress for imperfections, the other is contemplating the fit of her costume, and another is rehearsing her everso tedious choreography.

Or, ponder the thought that these four girls are one and the same, consider that these sketches create a timeline of this dancer’s life in the wings of the stage. Edgar Degas was able to steal little captivating moments as his brush caressed his canvas that tell her story. He envelopes a gentle impression of what she devoted her life to by studying the dancer dozens of times. 

What if someone observed you and painted your essence? What little moments would your life be made of? It’s kind of mesmerizing to think that Degas transformed these seemingly ordinary tasks into a lively dance, I think it captures how beautiful and exquisite a person can be without even trying. This piece is also an ode to how with every snapshot of our life, there’s a little history and intention in the details that we often don’t think to consider.

If you take a step back and analyze each and every one of your quirks, what would you think? 

I hope I would find myself appreciating how I might lack the elegance of a dancer but I find grace in creative thought and music. 

Maybe I’d learn to love how I trip over thin air because it never fails to ignite a soft smile. 

I would likely take note every time I stare in the mirror and tilt my head, wondering if I like the way my clothes drape over each and every curve. 

I’d definitely notice how my lips gently curve every time I hear my favorite line in a song. 


The impression I would get of myself is an ordinary, imperfect being that finds elegance in her humanity, and I believe that is exactly what Degas wanted to capture from his art. What makes Degas’ work so unique is that he never painted celebrated dancers, he painted background dancers that didn’t have an itch for fame. He took the time to capture people who didn’t have the attention of the whole world. All he wanted from his art was to depict the study of great masters in a canvas full of motion and life. 

Tags: Analysis