Pirouettes, Passés, and Pastels- Dana Kapaska

This gallery displays images of groups and individuals engaging in acts of dance from many different periods of artistic culture through the centuries. 

Young Country Girl Dancing was painted by Francois Boucher. The painting depicts a young, barefoot maiden in the act of dance. She delicately raises her skirt to make her movements easier. Boucher uses a variation of thickness in his lines to complete the work. The lines are organic and curved to flow with the figures positioning. This painting lacks major colors, and mainly consists of a gray scale and light, pastel blushes. The value of the image as a whole is fairly light as well as the saturation of minor hues. The young woman is the only figure in the painting, therefore, making her the focal point of the image. The tilt of her face provides balance to the image in contrast to her raised dress. The contrast provides emphasis on a dynamic movement within the piece and allows the audience to see that she cannot remain still in her current positioning. There is a rhythm to the image produces by the blush hues repeated throughout her garments. There is also a repetition of heavy shadow work along her arms/ torso, which is repeated in the folds of her skirt. Boucher combines these elements to create a dynamic piece of expression.
Female Dancer with a Tambourine was painted by Thomas Rowlandson, depicts a woman in a joyous pose, holding a tambourine surrounded by a billowing skirt and an observant audience. The dancer appears to be on a type of stage with the audience surrounding her from all angles. Her dress is adorned with a blush bow at her waist and feathers in her hairstyle. Lines are consistently thin and organic. The lines delicately flow with the skirt of the figure and are replicated through the foreground of the audience through the background audience. There appears to be a lack of lines encompassing the bow. While there is a lack of variation of colors, the overall tone is warm. The warm tone is shown in the peach coloration of the skin tone; both in the dancer and audience. The tone is also shown in the blush coloration of the bows, shoes, and feather tips. There is a red hue, lacking saturation, but high in value, in the handle of the tambourine. The saturation of the hues grows stronger as the eyes rise from the bottom. There is an emphasis placed on the dancer from the torso to the tambourine. This selection of the painting is highly composed of the hues described above, therefore attracting the eye to the dancer in the painting. The extreme upward gazes of the audience in the foreground predicts that her dance may be scandalous as they appear to have their gaze fixed far lower than her tambourine. There is a repetition of shadow work through her skirt, the shadow work is not accompanied by lines and assists in a dynamic sense of her skirt. These shadows are also apparent on her sleeves, in her hair, and among the audience. There is also a repetition of circles through the image. In the audience (foreground) there are many pairs of glasses and the occasionally rounded nose. The dancer's appearance consists of circles on her shoes, the necklace of beads, the bracelets of beads, and upon the tambourine as cymbals. The repetition of circles are also continued loosely in the audience behind the dancer, however, the line work is fairly delicate and needs close observation.
The Star is a pastel and ink print by Hilaire-Germain- Edgar Degas. Edgar Degas was born as Hilaire Germain. The drawing depicts a dancer as the main figure on a dark valued ground with some minor figures behind her. The dancer is seen in a difficult pose and is maintaining her grace through the challenge of the dance moves. There appears to be a lack of lines definitively expressed in the image, the only notion of lines are the organic forms expressed in the shapes composing the bodies of the figures. There are a few lines on the floor of the stage, the dark lines fade out, representing the floor boards of the stage. The colors of the drawing are composed of dark valued hues and vary in saturation. The ground of the image is high in saturation to place an emphasis on the dancer in the foreground. The dancer herself is low in saturation and high in light value, excluding her flowers adorning her garment. There is a gradient of a darkening value as the shadow approaches the top of the figure. The colors are mainly pastel and are similar to the delicacy and grace the dancer possesses. The tutu of the dancer radiates from a high saturation to a low saturation. There is an emphasis on the dancer in the foreground, the emphasis is created by the scale of the dancer in contrast to the other dancers in the background of the image. The emphasis is also created by the red flowers adorning the bust line of the main dancer in focus. There is a repetition of whispy lines and strokes, this allows for the dancers to be viewed as though they are in constant motion. The whispy strokes allow for the audience to imagine that the dancer did not stay in the same position long enough for Degas to capture a perfectly rendered image. There also appears to be a mist like a form of the dancers, this may be other dancers not fully formed. In any case, it adds a dynamic element to the drawing. It keeps the eyes of the viewer moving through the piece.
Swaying Dancer by Edgar Degas was painted to depict two groups of dancers; one in action, the other waiting in the wings to perform. The dancers performing are wearing cool colors, mainly green with warm accents. While the dancers waiting are wearing warm colors, mainly orange. There is a clear focus on one dancer, where her full body is visible while there are multiple dancers surrounding her, without faces and full bodies. The lines in the image are delicate and thin, surrounded by large amounts of color. The color of the dancer in focus is composed of pastel greens and blues. There are accents of orange upon the garments. The green coloration is light in saturation and value. There is a contrast of colors in the image, the green hues are complementary to the highly saturated, orange hues in the background. There is emphasis placed on the central dancer by the harsh contrast of colors and positioning of her body in the image frame. The repetition of the dancers' positioning allows for a rhythm to be established. The replication of the orange hues in the central dancers' garments also provides a sense of rhythm.
Dancing by Manuel Cabral Aguado Bejarano was painted, depicting a single maiden dressed in white with a red sash around her waist. The woman is raised on a platform or stage, surrounded by what appears to be the remnants of a party or celebration; empty alcohol bottles, plates, and shawls draped over chairs. In the background is a large amount of greenery. The lines of this image vary in thickness and style. In the background and the woman, the lines are organic and curved. In the table and more technical aspects, the lines are very geometric. The colors displayed in the image are mainly considered neutral and cool. The contrast of the colorations is apparent in the woman. The woman is mainly white but has a highly saturated, red sash and shawl. There is am emphasis placed on the dancing woman by having her raised on the platform above the ground. Not only can she be seen raised above the ground and other space, but she is also adorned with colors that are complementary to the greens of the background. The liveliness of the remnants suggests a rambunctious event had occurred before this act of dance. Her hands are also seen in mid-clap as to count out a beat.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance, depicting a room full of people. Most of the people appear to be poised and regal. There is one figure that is dancing wildly in the middle of the floor with a partner, flailing her legs. The lines in the image are highly organic and thin. The lines contour to the elaborate dress of the time of Moulin Rouge. As for colorations, the ground can mainly be associated with cool colors, seemingly green with slight orange contrasts. The fashion of the time was structurally extravagant but in terms of hue, quite neutral and high in saturation. The interesting elements of color are expressed by warm colors, beginning with the pastel pink dress in the foreground, continued in the red stockings of the dancing woman, finally receding to the suit and hair of the man in the background, to the left. These elements of coloration provide linear perspective to the audience as the intense colors recede into the distance. There is emphasis created by the positioning of the woman dancing, along with her stockings. The woman's apparel does not measure up to the attire of the others around her. The colorations and dynamic movement presented by the woman allow for the eyes of the audience to pinpoint her location in the image. There is rhythm created by the warm colors spread in a receding fashion. There is also repetition in the attire of the men in the image, all are wearing top hats and coats with tails.
Georges Seurat's painting Le Chahut depicts a musical show upon a stage. The dancers are in a line (right of the image) while the orchestra is in the foreground. The lights of the stage balance the dancers, but to the left of the stage. The lines in the image are very thing and organic, however, the image consists of heavy shadow work along many of the lines to create a dramatic effect on the scene. There is an overall warm tint to the image, reciprocated in the top layer of the skirts of the ladies on stage. The rest of the colorations and hues in the image are low in saturation and low in brightness, creating a neutral color scheme. Emphasis is created in the image by the stage and raising the performers above the orchestra. The angle in which Seurat composed the painting produces the perspective of the audience, who would be focused intently on the dancers. Repetition of the dancers, alternating gender, but maintaining positioning creates rhythm in the image. The pattern can be juxtaposed by the lights around the stage, continuing the theme of repetition.The angle of the neck and head of the bass in the orchestra also replicates the angle of the legs of the dancers, continuing the pattern.
Nudes (Women Dancing in a Ring) by Francisco Iturrino displays a group of nine women intertwined in an act of dance.The composition consists of the women, a sky and grass. The lines in the image are thin and accompanied by shadows where appropriate on the female form. The lines are organic and rounded, as expected on a female body in the early 1900's. The colorations of this image are interesting in regards that color theory is used to produce specific pigments when examining closely, there are hues of purples, yellows, and greens on the skin of the women. The grass is composed of varying shades of saturation and values. The same is true for the sky, which hides orange, yellow, and green hues. The emphasis is on the grouping of women, this can be concluded by the large blocking of colorations, shapes, forms and use of lines. The diverse positioning of the female figures will never attract the eye to the same location when gazing at the image.There is rhythm created by the repetition of curvatures of lines and forms of the human body. The hair styling of all of the females is very similar if not exact, this repetition also creates a consecutive rhythm of the painting.
Flamenco Songs and Dances by Julio Romero de Torres depicts a young lady, as the focal point of the image, dancing. The woman is surrounded by four other individuals, all important to the balance of the image and meaning. The line work of the image is slightly thicker than the line work of the other images discussed previously. The lines are still organic and curved, following the female form and dynamic movement. The color of the image is low in value and mixed saturations. The main figure has a gradient of saturation from waist to toe, gaining in intensity. The other figures remain mainly neutral, with the exception of the saturated skirt of one of the individuals in the background. The emphasis is placed ion the standing woman with her arms outstretched. The emphasis is created by a differentiation in hues as well as the directionality the other figures are facing. The gaze of the others is centered and upon her or gazing at the audience. The positioning of the main woman suggests a flowing style of dance or one of great passion for creating the movement expressed in her garments.
Charles Demuth's painting In Vaudeville (Dancer with Chorus) depicts a male dancing in front of a cast of females. The male in a suit of all black, while the females wear red. The background of the image is blurred and unrecognizable as having any strict forms. The lines in the image are thick but visible due to the choice of colorations surrounding them. Most of the lines are surrounded with low saturation hues with a high brightness value. This allows for the lines to appear more noticeable than normal. The color palette is mainly warm, as expressed by the red hue of the women's dresses, and the warm yellow background. The male of the image is neutral with high saturation of blacks. The emphasis is placed on the male due to the contrast in colors surrounding him. His figure and form stand closer to the audience than the others around him. This is caused by the bold saturation of black on his suit. Rhythm is created by the repetition of body placement. It appears that many of the angles seen from the male figure are replicated in the female figures behind him.
Credits: All media
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