Degas’s longstanding passion for depicting ballerinas is perhaps best understood as an idiosyncratic take on Impressionism. The Impressionists were painters of modern life, recording the hustle and bustle in the bars and boulevards of Paris. The dancers of the Paris Opéra, many of whom came from an impoverished background and had a reputation for loose morals, belong to the large cast of “modern” characters found in Impressionist art.
BBC News report (video).
Ahead of the show's opening BBC London traveled to Paris to explore Degas's roots and his interest in conveying the human figure in movement.