In this painting, we can already see a strong Impressionist influence on the final workmanship and aspect of it. It is done in a monotype technique combined with pastel, a method that was very singular for that time. In 1877 Degas had already spent a couple of years improving his technique and stepping away from the academic style that marked the early years of his career and had also spent some time obsessed with the ballet subject matter.
One of the interesting things of this monotype piece is that unlike most of the paintings of spectacles and shows, we don’t have a view from the spectator or the audience, but from the orchestra pit. On the bottom, it is possible to observe the top of the heads of the musicians and some double basses necks framing the scene. The instruments are painted in dark wood and contrast with the candid color that lights up the stage. There are no details of the faces of the musicians, but they are all turned to the conductor, placed on the right side, off-scene.
The ballerinas on stage are divided into two groups. Three of them dance to the left of the picture. Their dresses are portrayed in a more pastel pink tone, and they have white flowers as details on their heads and dresses. The ballerina that is standing in front of this group is striking an ‘en pointe’ pose. They would be the main attraction at this moment of the spectacle.
The crowded group of ballerinas on the right has white dresses and red details in them, very similar as seen in other pieces of Degas, like Dance Class at the Opera, rue Le Peletier. Their hairs are not put up and properly tied, suggesting that this piece portrays a rehearsal rather than a final presentation. They are grouped up and lined in a diagonal queue up to the background of the stage.
Behind them, a sort of tropical landscape is painted on the back of the stage. The landscape is a dark forest filled with trees and dark trunks. In the middle, it fades away in a yellow tone, with some tropical brown tree tops disappearing into the horizon. The subtlety of the technique represents perfectly a beautiful landscape but makes us aware that it is just a representation painted on a background wood or cloth.
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