Degas and the Little Dancer


One of the pointe pieces Mary Beth and her company danced in the competition a couple of weeks ago and will dance again this weekend, begins with the girls posing inside a larger than life picture frame. They are set as if they were dancers in a painting by Degas. It's a beautiful piece that captivated my little girls. Because they'd heard the piece referred to by its stage name, "Degas," they've been tossing the artist's name around quite freely in the past few days. I decided it was time to pay a little more careful attention to who Degas was and how that real life dance number got its inspiration from an entirely different medium

I read to everyone younger than 15, boys and girls alike, the story of Degas and the Little Dancer. It's a based-on-true tale of a poor young girl named Marie who aspired to be the "most famous dancer in the world." She is enrolled in the ballet school where the famous artist frequently comes to paint. When she doesn't have enough money to continue classes, he asks her to pose. His eyes are failing and he's moved from oils, to pastels, and finally to wax sculptures. And the little dancer does indeed become quite famous, though not in the way she expected.

Marie degas

My children are pretty tuned in to art and the book captivated them. We played ballet music for a few hours while they let their imaginations run a little wild. They drew dancers and then chose to color in pastels or colored pencils. In the spirit of the statue, they wanted to "dress" their art in "real" clothes. So, we sewed some tiny tutus and glued them in place. Very sweet. 


Now, I'm looking forward to watching them watch their sister dance this piece again. And I'm going to try to get a picture to add here because I just so love that tableau.


~ Favorite Ballet Stories~

Angelina Ballerina

Ballet Shoes

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet

Ballet of the Elephants

Tallulah's Tutu

Do you have a favorite? I'll add it to the list:-)


For more about our Storybook Year, please visit here.