Degas' Dancers - the current exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. - permits visitors to admire and interact with his main muse: ballet. Over his lifetime, Degas created more than 1,500 paintings, pastels, and drawings of dancers - more than any other artist.
Transfixed by the beauty of ballet, and the commitment of its dancers, Degas drew dancers in rehearsals, in studios, and on stage. As a 19th century subscriber to the Paris ballet, he was permitted backstage access to the ballerinas, which aided his study and art. Degas' art emerged from these private moments. He rarely depicted ballerinas in performance. And if the gauzy skirts and pointed shoes are enough to inspire you, the final gallery in the exhibition includes two mirrors and a ballet barre, mounted at hip height. You may have the urge to stretch your limbs, like the tiny dancers before you. And in doing so, life imitates art.